April 22, 2018 (this day)

IMG_1383This is Carole and Angela Davis.  One of the cool things we’ve done in my attempt to do all the things I wouldn’t do when there was a dog waiting at home alone (with two cats, same thing).  Today, for the first time, I sat on my back stoop with a book and no dog.  Honestly, she always wanted in.  She was a house dog.  But I made her sit out there with me and enjoy the fresh air, darn it.  Until sometimes gnats would swarm her and I’d take her in.  This lack of dog still dominates my psyche.

Without her, I’m staying longer at work with less anxiety about doing so.  I was going to more political things until stuff happened.  I’m still pounding out the post cards.  I’ve written over 1000 for my candidate but he’s switched districts due to things and stuff so 650 went to the wrong district.  I know his chances of getting to congress are slim to none but it keeps me constructing rather than hating.

I’m walking more, trying to do one mile every other day.  I’ve lost six pounds in anticipation of my daughter’s wedding.  I gained two back over her shower/Easter/my mother’s visit, but those two are gone again.  At this rate I should lose another one or two before the big day?

I’m committing myself to two meetings a week – I often do that but not always, sometimes I’ve just gone to my home group.  That meeting is fine.  Carole marked 22 years sober the other day and in the next little while I should achieve 34 years.  I know I have some newer readers who don’t want to slog through this whole backlog – why not?  I went to my first AA meeting when I was 16 years old.  I achieved my present sobriety when I was 21, almost 22 years old.  So now, at 55, almost 56 years old, I will have 34 years sober.  I realize I am among the most fortunate of people, ever, and certainly certainly among the most fortunate of alcoholics, ever.

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Sharing My Experience in AA

To me it’s an integral aspect of the program and really maybe the first, most important aspect as it launched the program and made the system for sobriety spread from Bill to Bob to the The Man on the Bed (my favorite AA symbol).  Hearing the experience of others, others who are the same as me and who suffered the same as I had suffered opened my mind to the possibility of living as an alcoholic in sobriety.  And I have no doubt that living as an alcoholic in sobriety I have continued to benefit from others sharing their sober experiences with me.  It’s like continuing education for life for a very small, very special and very difficult subset of humanity, the alcoholic living in sobriety.

I’ve shared my experience here and in real life as an introvert in the extroverted world of AA.  It hasn’t been easy.  It continues to be difficult, actually.  But the “making me come out of my shell in order to survive” that AA made me do has been a benefit there and in the rest of the world.  I’m so fortunate that I immediately believed the people I met in AA when they told me they understood how I felt.  I was, remember, 16 years old, almost 17, and they…..weren’t.  But I believed them.

I must have heard thousands of stories by now and I must have shared mine thousands of times.  What a special miracle it is that by telling you I peed in a plant, I save my life and maybe yours as well.  It doesn’t debase me, although it is quite shameful.  It’s my message of hope, that life doesn’t have to be that way for me or for you.  As e.e. cummings wrote, “i who have died am alive again today.”

 

Happy Easter!

March 18, 2018 (this day)

I’m uninspired by my topics.  I had a post half started about expectations and how AA has taught me to expect to be let down by everyone and everything.  True enough!  But blah to write about.  I’m also uninspired by Step Four and the pieces of it I have to tackle and so I haven’t written.  Making myself do this now.

Things are good!  Politics are looking up with the special election in Pennsylvania.  My daughter’s wedding shower is next weekend and my mother will travel back with us to be at my house for Easter.  There’s a hint of spring and honestly, the crushing, crushing pain of the loss of my dog happens less often now.  Maybe three times a day rather than four?  I’m not yet happy for the freedom from her care that I’m experiencing, but I have been doing things like shopping and going to the movies and attending political events that I hated to do when she was home.  I see dogs barking in neighbor’s windows and I hate that I ever left her ……… So, still a long way from getting over that one.  What is the character defect?  I need to know, so that I can lessen it.

One character defect I do know about pulled me down a hole today.  Facebook, that repository of nightmares and dreams showed me that someone I grew up with lives in her parents’ house, the one she lived in when we were kids and I was consumed with jealousy.

I KNOW my life is beyond my wildest dreams, filled with wonderful people and places and things and activities and more than I ever wanted and much more than I ever deserved.  I deserve to be dead, I engaged in such self-destructive behavior only luck finds me here now.  And I KNOW that her life is probably far from what it seem on the Book.  I know.  But there you have it.

I, personally, have the answer to my own woes.  It is in the steps.  Maybe Step Four.  I should work it.

 

Disclaimer- jealousy, even grief, occupy tiny parts of my days.  I am for the most part happy, joyous, and free.

February 17, 2018 (this day)

IMG_1373I’m trying to knit a hat in the round which then will decrease too much for the circular needle(s?).  My goal to knit a wearable sock remains elusive.  Maybe this will help.

It’s cold, snowy winter where I live.  I want to use that as an excuse for something.  I’m volunteering for the congressional campaign of someone who I hope will replace my trump puppet congressman.  It’s a long shot, but at least I’m learning a ton for next time. I can’t imagine a time when I won’t care about politics.  Carole and I are the old folks of the campaign for sure.  But hey, the whipper snappers can’t ignore us because we sure do vote.

It’s two months to the day the dog left us, and that is still terribly painful every single day.  I’m not yet relieved that I can work all day and campaign all night without worrying about her being alone.  And I can’t use her as an excuse to stay home.

My son will be 30 (or not) February 29.  My daughter is getting married and there are many preparations.  Life is very very good, and I’m content most of the time.

This isn’t very interesting.  I’m bored with it.  But it’s hard to sit down to it, so I’ll publish it and get back in the groove.

Step Four – Made a searching and fearless morale inventory of ourselves.

Creation gave us instincts for a purpose.  Without them we wouldn’t be complete human beings.  If men and women didn’t exert themselves to be secure in their persons, made no effort to harvest food or construct shelter, there would be no survival.  If they didn’t reproduce, the earth wouldn’t be populated.  If there were no social instinct, if men cared nothing for the society of one another, there would be no society.  So these desires–for the sex relation, for material and emotional security, and for companionship–are perfectly necessary and right, and sure God-given.

Yet these instincts, so necessary for our existence, often far exceed their proper functions.  Powerfully, blindly, many times subtly, they drive us, dominate us, and insist upon ruling our lives.  Our desires for sex, for material and emotional security, and for an important place in society often tyrannize us.  When thus our of joint, man’s natural desires cause him great trouble, practically all the trouble there is.  No human being, however good, is exempt from these troubles.  Nearly every serious emotional problem can be seen as a case of misdirected instinct.  When that happens, our great natural assets, the instincts, have turned into physical and mental liabilities.

I have always understood my insane drinking, my alcoholism, to be a misguided attempt to make myself happy.  An insane attempt to make myself happy.  One of my starkest memories from my drinking days was when an AA friend remarked, to my drunken self, “It doesn’t even make you happy.”

No, it didn’t.  But is used to!  And to it might again, if I could only get it right.

I know now that I was wanted and cared for and celebrated and protected as a child.  But the world is a dangerous place, even for children born into circumstances like I was.  My father died when I was six, and I’m sure it gave me a fear about losing my mother that most of the other children in my life didn’t have.

And there are other things.  My point at this moment is that I saw the world as dangerous, and the world was dangerous, even though I had every advantage and after all I did come through all right.  The fearfulness of that child, the normal misunderstandings of my child’s mind, and the dormant seed of alcoholism laid the ground work for my drinking nearly to death.

And isn’t aging, as I’ve been blessed beyond measure to experience, a creeping back toward that time when I may not be independent and I may not understand all that goes on around me?

December 31, 2017 (this day)

This year!

I am circling, circling that fourth step and I will leap upon it soon.

With several hours left to go, and no easy access to alcohol, I think it’s safe to assume that I won’t have had any alcohol in 2017.  The thirty-third year?  Nineteen eighty four was the last year I drank.

2017 was terrible in some ways.  Politically I have been more disturbed and devastated than is healthy.  I had a great year with my precious dog, up until the last two weeks.  After a few difficult hours she left me for the final time.  And I’m much more crushed than is called for.

I’m grateful to be alive, grateful to be here and go this mile.  But anchoress, glueless, my compass is gone.

Not really.  AA has showed me the way since 1984.  The dog was never endangered by my alcoholism.  Since she’s gone, I can say “never.”  I don’t like facing a new year without that anchor and that glue, but really today is just another day, and tomorrow is just another day, and a “new year” is an arbitrary marker.  It’s another chance to be even better.

December 25, 2017 (this day)

This should be my beginning of Step Four, but that will wait.  This is my report of Christmas, 2017.

My dog passed away last Sunday.  It was as good as it could possibly be without her living forever, or for the rest of my life.  I’m broken hearted.  Truly.

My daughter lives about 400 miles away, and I wasn’t going to see her because the dog was too old to take and too old to leave.  My wife and son were going to go see my daughter the day after Christmas.  But the dog died, and my daughter asked me to visit.  Because both she and we live in potentially snowy areas, we left home on Friday after work and left her house this morning, Monday morning, Christmas morning.  We – me and my wife and my son – are in a Holiday Inn about 150 miles from home, stuck in blinding snow.  We were very grateful to find a room here, but are fairly depressed, each in our own way, to be here.  On Christmas.

Dear readers I am sober.  The loss of the dog is huge.  She has been my constant companion for 11 years.  She was always glad to see me.  She was a very good dog and constantly on my mind if not in my presence.  I can’t believe she’s gone and I can’t believe I’ll ever be happy again.

I’ve had other dogs and I still have cats.  I have human children.  I’ve lost relationships in many ways but this one hurts like hell.

I don’t need to peruse my gratitude list.  My gratitude is infinite, and my experience with my dog was as perfect as it could be.  Even her death was as good as it could be.  I’m grateful, and I miss her, and I’ll never be the same.  I’ll go into 2018 without her and just now, like I said, I can’t imagine ever being happy again.