Sponsorship

I’ll just leave this here.  I haven’t been successful in having a sponsor or in being a sponsor.  From all I’ve experienced and all I’ve seen, it means “special aa friend.”  Which is fine.  Everyone should have one.  But gone are the days when a sponsor pays for your hospital stay and puts you up.

“I have a sponsor, and my sponsor has a sponsor.”  And?  This must end somewhere, no? I hear that as a self-righteous boast.  It is not (in my experience) needed for a good long sobriety.

That is all.

The Spiritual Malady

Resentment is the “number one” offender. It destroys more alcoholics than anything else. From it stem all forms of spiritual disease, for we have been not only mentally and physically ill, we have been spiritually sick. When the spiritual malady is overcome, we straighten out mentally and physically.

 

I have always felt that resentment was not my “number one” offender.  I think, for me, it’s been fear, and a kind of resentment turned inward.  I see resentment and fear and part of the same thing.  I do experience resentments though, for sure.  Just not quite as often as fear.

This quote, from page 64 of the Big Book, precedes the fourth step inventory.  It’s saying to me that if I can dig out my character defects, I can stay sober and live well.  And from where I sit, with 34 years of sobriety, I can stay sober, and I do live well.  I live at least well enough to stay sober!

The promise that when my spiritual malady is overcome, I will straighten out mentally and physically….well.  Again, it is all true and all well as far as it goes.

Although I’m well enough, I’m not all well, and I do believe that the program and the steps still have promise of better living for me.  I read this passage, and a bit about it, and then I went to a Quaker meeting and sat silent and still for an hour.  I pictured my character defect of fear as a root that does deep within me, that I can dig out and destroy almost entirely.  A piece will always be alive, I know, but it can be a very small, tiny piece, one that doesn’t play an important part in any day of mine.

I am not spiritually, mentally, or physically “straight,” or well.  In fact physically things are tending to trend downward at my age.  But I can still do more to be more straight and well in each of these areas.  I hope the fourth step I’m working on will be a step in that direction.  This passage spells out that the spiritual comes first, before the mental and physical.  I’ll try to keep that consciously in my mind as I go forward, especially when times are tough and I’m having an excess of negative emotion.

Spiritual Awakening

I didn’t post in September and that’s probably the first whole month I missed since I started.  Just starting to to address the topic of spiritual awakening seems daunting, but I decided to give it a go and to edit it as I got.  So I’ll add to it until I feel done and then move on.

 

First, what a promise!  What a dividend!  I cam to AA to learn how to drink without causing havoc.  Because I am an alcoholic, that wasn’t possible.  That was an awakening of sorts.  Maybe the “spirit” is the opposite of the physical, of the real, but I feel that mine took a giant step forward when it finally admitted the reality that I cannot chemically alter my reality safely, or with any kind of positive outcome.  But anyway it seems to me like an amazing offer.  Stop drinking and have your spirit awakened!  To be continued.

Expect A Miracle

Two aspects of this saying – expectation, and miracles.

I believe I remember hearing it when I first came to the program.  I liked the mystical implications as much as I did not believe in things unseen.  I don’t know what I expected, miracle-wise, but I can articulate my understanding of it today.

A room of sober alcoholics is a miracle.  I understand alcoholism to be fatal for many, and terrible for the rest who go through life drinking and drugging and trying to stop, or not trying to stop.  As I sit and write this I know that around there world there are gathered groups of sober alcoholics following the twelve steps and staying sober.  That is a miracle.

My personal miracle, aside from the one about being nearly dead and coming back to life through sobriety, is that at some point during my journey I started wanting it.  There was a day, and I didn’t know it at the time, when I changed my attitude to one where I wouldn’t take the pill, shot, gene therapy, or anything else that would take away my alcoholism because my sobriety, through Alcoholics Anonymous, is the best in my life.  It makes every other good thing possible.

Expecting this miracle?  I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.  I hope that this kind of expectation makes us ready, somehow, to receive it.

Turning it Over Again and Some More

I came to write about enjoying life in sobriety, having fun.  But I’m not really having any, and that’s a shame.  I’m very stressed.  My number one stress is my dog.  She’s 14 and has, the vet says, liver failure.  Taking her on vacation in June nearly did her in, but since then she’s been holding steady.  I’m failing to enjoy this precious puppy because I fear the ultimate break with her, the one when she leaves me forever.  That is a darn shame.  An old dog is, for me, a wonderful dog.  She’s so much easier than she was when she was younger.  She’s so much more mine because more time has gone by.  She’s happy and she seems fairly healthy for her age.  She’s enjoying life and I’m so torn up over its end.

Work is also very stressful.  We are very short staffed, and that makes everything much more difficult.  My work partner, who I love working with and depend on heavily, turned 65 last month.  She’s probably staying a bit longer, but every day feels like the possible end with that.  And I could be enjoying her so much more.  We’ve been together a really long time and I’m beyond blessed and lucky to have had this amazing relationship.  But I’m torn up over its end.

I don’t know why my coping reserves feel so low right now.  Nothing major is wrong in my life, and I do so appreciate that fact.  I’m kind of floundering with how to have a real go at this problem, my attitude.

Looking at my alphabetical list of topics, after “enjoying life” comes the “exact nature of our wrongs.”  After Step Three comes Step Four.  Maybe some investigation will yield some clues and some clarity and path.  It always has before.

Emotional Sobriety

This sounded new age to me, but Bill W actually wrote about it link.

“How to translate a right mental conviction into a right emotional result . . .  it’s the problem of life itself for all of us who have got to the point of real willingness to hew to right principles in all our affairs.”

He goes on to say that the answer is in perfect love.  Not being dependent on any person or thing, not even AA, but upon God.  That loving others with no expectation of return is the true key to happiness.  And in AA we have a field ripe for harvesting.

When I was newly, temporarily, precariously sober, avoiding an excess of negative emotion was life or death.  I had to work the program and practice the positive thinking it teaches, or drink.  Now the drink is much farther away.  The emotions are much milder and more easily handled.  I think that sometimes I stay negative because I’m not so compelled to change as I was in the begininng.

“If we examine every disturbance we have, great or small, we will find at the root of it some unhealthy dependency and its consequent unhealthy demand. Let us, with God’s help, continually surrender these hobbling demands. Then we can be set free to live and love; we may then be able to Twelfth Step ourselves and others into emotional sobriety.”

I’m going to make an effort in the next little while to examine my disturbances and identify the dependency and the demand.

My current big, long, awful disturbance – the election.  I depend on the government to do many things and to basically keep me safe.  The government is currently, in my eyes, putting me in danger.

The day after election day someone I work with said something like, “Don’t worry, God is in charge.”  I don’t believe that, though I accept that it may be true.  When I think about my government-inspired fears I have to acknowledge that most people in the world are not so well-situated as I am.  I protest without fear of reprisal.  I tell half of my elected officials that I disagree with them, again without fear of reprisal.  I’m allowed to engage in activities that are meant to undermine and overthrow these particular politicians.  In many places in the world this would be a very dangerous undertaking.  Not here.

And I have to acknowledge that no administration kept me “safer” than this one.  Danger is always there, and I live most of my life not considering it.   Dependency identified.  Now what?

I’m volunteering to help a campaign that seeks to oust my terrible congressman, so that’s something.  I can’t fit the pieces together to say how this reduces my dependency, but it does serve to take my mind off of it, at least for a while.

Emotional Hangover (from step 10)

When a drunk has a terrific hangover because he drank heavily yesterday, he cannot live well today. But there is another kind of hangover which we all experience whether we are drinking or not. That is the emotional hangover, the direct result of yesterday’s and sometimes today’s excesses of negative emotion—anger, fear, jealousy, and the like. If we would live serenely today and tomorrow, we certainly need to eliminate these hangovers.

My emotional life is ruled by politics right now, and I’m just going to go with it.

I know I’m not doing it well when I dream about congress, or when thoughts of politics and politicians are the first thoughts I have waking up, or the things that run through my head when I’m trying to sleep.  I don’t feel that the negative emotions are excessive.  I think  anger, fear, and the like (disgust, dismay, despair) are appropriate and called for.  If you’re not terrified you’re not paying attention!  And I don’t live serenely.

I mean, I do live serenely, this just takes up too much negative space in my head and in my day.  I haven’t reached my goal of spending ten quality minutes with it.  I’ve seen people around me lessen their zeal.  I think I have lessened my newspaper reading, but only a little.  I’m not sure what an appropriate amount would be.

Other things.  I marked 33 years sober last week.  This number is beyond my comprehension.  I feel in this way blessed among all the alcoholics who ever lived.  Emotional hangovers, unpleasant as they are, are the only kind of hangovers I’ve had in all that time.  I remember cotton mouth, dry heaves, vague and fearful regrets.  I’ll take the emotional hangover because this hangover comes with hope and a plan to suffer less next time.

And viva la resistance!!