Much-Desired Result (Step Three continue

When World War II broke out, this spiritual principle had its rst major test. A.A.’s entered the services and were scattered all over the world. Would they be able to take discipline, stand up under re, and endure the monotony and misery of war? Would the kind of dependence they had learned in A.A. carry them through? Well, it did. They had even fewer alcoholic lapses or emotional binges than A.A.’s safe at home did. They were just as capable of en- durance and valor as any other soldiers. Whether in Alas- ka or on the Salerno beachhead, their dependence upon a Higher Power worked. And far from being a weakness, this dependence was their chief source of strength.

 

So how, exactly, can the willing person continue to turn his will and his life over to the Higher Power? He made a beginning, we have seen, when he commenced to rely upon A.A. for the solution of his alcohol problem. By now, though, the chances are that he has become convinced that he has more problems than alcohol, and that some of these refuse to be solved by all the sheer personal determination and courage he can muster. They simply will not budge; they make him desperately unhappy and threaten his newfound sobriety. Our friend is still victimized by remorse and guilt when he thinks of yesterday. Bitterness still overpowers him when he broods upon those he still envies or hates. His financial insecurity worries him sick, and panic takes over when he thinks of all the bridges to safety that alcohol burned behind him. And how shall he ever straighten out that awful jam that cost him the affection of his family and separated him from them? His lone courage and unaided will cannot do it. Surely he must now depend upon Somebody or Something else.
At first that “somebody” is likely to be his closest A.A. friend. He relies upon the assurance that his many troubles, now made more acute because he cannot use alcohol to kill the pain, can be solved, too. Of course the sponsor points out that our friend’s life is still unmanageable even though he is sober, that after all, only a bare start on A.A.’s program has been made. More sobriety brought about by the admission of alcoholism and by attendance at a few meetings is very good indeed, but it is bound to be a far cry from permanent sobriety and a contented, useful life. That is just where the remaining Steps of the A.A. program come in. Nothing short of continuous action upon these as a way of life can bring the much-desired result.

I can’t comment on the WWII aspect and I don’t know if there was any science behind these assertions.  I also seriously doubt my own ability to stay sober in a war and I’m extremely grateful that I haven’t found out how I’d do.

I can summarize my feelings about the rest of this text by saying that it’s my understanding that I turn my will and my life over to the care of a higher power by doing the rest of the steps.  By doing all of the steps continuously.  For me personally, that’s meant formally and that’s what I’m doing here, in this blog.  I started eight (?) years ago with Step Six because in my redoings I have usually stopped after five.  After twelve I went back to one and now I’m partway through three.

It’s no kind of hocus pocus.  It’s how I keep the program active in my life along with meetings and readings.

 

February 20, 2017 (this day)

I’m sick, and I think it’s hay fever, even though it should be deep midwinter in my part of the world.  It’s almost 70 degrees, sunny.  Spring bulbs are coming up.  It’s frightening.

Along with so much else these days.  I remember sitting in a political science class in 1984(ish) and realizing the danger of the nuclear weapons the world had produced by then.  Frightening.  There’s so much more now, and it’s so much more dangerous.  I don’t understand why some people in the United States don’t care if the bumble bee becomes extinct, and why their supporters don’t care.

In other news, nine days from now my son won’t have his 29th birthday.  He was a leap year baby!  Born to this alcoholic, never yet endangered by my alcoholism.  Given that, I should have more faith in miracles than I do.

Eleventh Step Prayer

Self-Centered Fear

It’s Friday and I’ve found I’m “alone” in management at work.  This is something that will increase in my life over the next ten years as my work partner of almost 20 years retires and probably won’t be replaced in the same capacity.  Really, I’m far from “alone.”  I work for a big agency with 20-30 staff people just at my site, and many managers above me readily available.  Still, hearing that my immediate manager will be off and my partner being off spark a fear reaction in me.  I will breathe a sigh of relief at the end of this day that I made it through, which is just goofy.

 

Trying to think of how to embrace this day enthusiastically and confidently (because I am competent and should be confident).  Thinking of the Saint Francis prayer because that’s the next piece of program stuff I should consider.  I’ve long visualized a “channel of peace” that extends from the heavens down to me.  But the darkness/light, despair/hope, doubt/faith rubric is hard for me except in the most dire of situations.  Today I want to bring faith to overcome my own doubt.  I am so blessed and so fortunate to have the ability to help people at least a little bit every single day at work. If I’m “alone,” “at the top,” my attitude will be the most important one here today.

 

Lord, make me a channel of Thy peace . . .

PS added this evening:  I nearly had to evacuate 60 individuals with multiple, severe disabilities and many many staff into the cold, cold morning, as a bathroom fan stopped working, heated up and started smoking.  Whew.

 

February 22, 2017 (this day)

img_0878A little bit better and a little bit better, inch by painful inch.

Carole and I had the dining room painted and wallpapered.  It was the last room we hadn’t painted since we moved in…..twelve years ago now?  It looks great, and with Konmari we’re getting rid of lots of stuff.  But not enough.  My work is good.  My daughter is buying a house, and that is both good and bad.  I’ll confess here that it breaks my heart a little how far away she lives.  Of course I’m grateful that she’s happy and healthy and that all it well with her.  It hasn’t always been and I take not one minute for granted.  But I miss her, and I can’t help wishing she was here and buying a house and having a baby…..That’s not my reality.  Step Seven tells me I’m not being humble, pining for things I don’t have.  So I aim to completely eradicate the pining, but I don’t think I’ll ever make it completely.

 

Three weeks into the new administration I have lessened my despair and heartache a little bit.  I’m taking constructive action and I’ll do that every day for the rest of my life.  Step Seven also tells me that I learn to be the way I should be through the pain of character building.  And while I do view character building as something worth while in and of itself, as the Step promises, it seems like nothing gets my muscles moving like heartache and heartbreak and despair.  So here I am.  Sober, grateful, and moving forward, inch by painful inch.

Baleful Results (Step Three continued)

We realize that the word “dependence” is as distasteful to many psychiatrists and psychologists as it is to alcoholics. Like our professional friends, we, too, are aware that there are wrong forms of dependence. We have experienced many of them. No adult man or woman, for example, should be in too much emotional dependence upon a parent. They should have been weaned long before, and if they have not been, they should wake up to the fact. This very form of faulty dependence has caused many a rebellious alcoholic to conclude that dependence of any sort must be intolerably damaging. But dependence upon an A.A. group or upon a Higher Power hasn’t produced any baleful results.

I’m struggling right now to regain emotional and mental equilibrium.  I’ve been protesting against many of my elected officials and I think I’ve found some good ways to do that for the time being.  I’d like to give part of my day, every day, to it, and leave it the rest of the time.  This I am not able to do.  I’m not sure what’s appropriate right now, what’s healthy and good for me and rest of humanity, really.  And how self-centered to think that what I do might result in anything!  I’m trying to be a drop in the bucket, today and every day.

And so, my program applied to this.  I should be dependent upon my higher power.  When things are bad in my life, I should double down on my program.  I’m not doing that.  I believe in some kind of abstract way that the answers are there for me, but right here, right now, it seems like the main benefit of more program would be less mental time spent on politics.  Which wouldn’t be a bad thing at all.

I don’t feel like this reverie has added anything to anything, but I’m leaving it here if only to look back on and to see how I coped without drinking.  I’m not drinking.

January 27, 2017 (this day)

Last week at this time I was staying awake to leave for the Women’s March on Washington at one in the morning.  When I first heard about the march I had said to Carole, “Let’s go.”  And Carole, being Carole, said, “Let’s get a bus and 54 of our best friends to go too!”  It was grueling, to say the least.  My daughter was there but I didn’t get to see her.  I live a good distance from Washington and I’m a very poor sleeper so I ended up literally not sleeping for days traveling there and back.  I remember the old AA adage that no one dies from a lack of sleep and I didn’t want to be the first.

It was very difficult, and I frequently got overwhelmed with sadness at the reason we all went there.  That said, it was uplifting and amazing and I’m energized to fight, fight, fight.

Every day I take at least ten minutes to fight this ridiculous president.  My idea is to make my call, write my letter, etc etc, and leave it, but I spend much more mental energy on it daily than ten minutes.  I want to cut that way down, because the mental energy I spend is not healthy or constructive.  I’ve subscribed to the New York Times on my Kindle in an effort to get informed and spend that energy in a constructive way, and to support the Times, which relentlessly bashes those who need to be bashed.

I’ve gone maybe my longest time without a meeting.  I couldn’t go to my Saturday night meeting, coming back from the march.  I wanted to go Monday but my stomach was too upset.  The rest of the week I didn’t try.  I’ll go tomorrow to my home group and I’m not really worried about it, just recording it here.  I’ve been sober for 32 years.  I plan, one day at a time to never drink again and to always be an active member of AA.  I just didn’t go to a meeting for approximately two weeks.

An AA friend wrote and deleted a Facebook post, but I read it.  She asked how all this worrying about things that haven’t happened yet goes along with One Day at a Time and other AA tenants.  It doesn’t, and when I see worry in myself I try to turn it into something constructive.  My ideal is fight serenely.  Because I am a good AA, but this is an emergency.  Changing the things I can’t accept if they are indeed changeable is a good thing.  AA gave me life and I’m living it.

Ego continued

In my previous post I quoted every place the Big Book and the Twelve and Twelve mention ego.  I don’t pretend to know what the common understanding of ego was at they time they were written, or what Bill W knew and thought about Freud or anything else.  To me, ego in those books seems to refer to myself, sometimes my high regard for myself.  The books also say that lots of us, when drinking and when we stop, have too high a regard for ourselves, or alternately, or at the same time, too low a regard for ourselves.  I’m especially struck by the passage that says, “Our eyes begin to open to the immense values which have come straight out of painful ego-puncturing.”

Drinking, I was more on the depressive side and apt to think very poorly of myself.  This too is a sign of an ego that needs to be punctured.  Whatever my problems, I was ultimately willing to risk my life and yours by drinking when I knew what terrible consequences resulted.  I didn’t, because I couldn’t, do any real work on myself, do anything meaningful to improve my life or to improve myself.

Now I’ve been sober for a long, long time.  I’m sure I have a better perspective on my ego, more humility and more of a sense of my right size and right place.  Yet I struggle mightily with this, especially now.  Applying this part of the program to my present unhappiness tells me, for one thing, that if I had a healthy ego, I wouldn’t be so badly affected by world events.  Angry, disappointed, heartbroken even, but not so crushed and shattered.  I believe in the value of ego-puncturing and at this point I truly welcome the pain that will bring me a newer attitude and a newer outlook, and I know I will be privileged way beyond what I deserve to experience this yet again.