Thursday, February 25, 2010

Musings about the unmanageability of my life

In the past few days my body has physically broken down, and I got a high fever. I tried to take the day off from work, and indeed I did not leave the apartment, but my phone rang off the hook. Crisis after crisis occurred and I was called to give direction or feedback on what to do, how to handle the crisis.

I took a two hour nap, but I also cleaned the apartment twice, cooked three meals, and did the dishes 4 or 5 times. I also broke up numerous fights between my daughters and listened to three drama meltdowns from my 14 year old daughter.

I was also told by my husband - who has done nothing about getting the things out of our old house we lost - that he is not going to help in anyway get the rest of the things out of that house, nor get it ready to turn back over to the owner. This responsibility will fall squarely on me. His response when I stated that I really needed assistance in completing the task? "Just tell them to take us to court."
This does nothing to help me.

I am just overwhelmed. My life became unmanageable from the moment I first drew a cognizant breath. I am powerless over anyone taking responsibility for anything that is their problem. I am powerless over the alcohol that is constantly making my life so much more difficult, even though I never drink a drop of the nasty crap myself anymore.

I am very tired.

I am losing my will.

Hopefully this is making room for HP's will. If not, I have no hope.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Gratitude and Creature Comforts

This January one of my best friends had a fire in her home, and although it was confined to one room, there was extensive smoke damage. As a result she got rid of her bed. My husband and I moved the old bed into our bedroom and we are enjoying lying on a bed that does not hurt our backs. Our old bed was rough, but the kids want it, so we are putting it in their room. Now hopefully the 4 year old will be able to sleep with her sister instead of crowding and cramping me to the edge of my bed and severe back and leg pain each night. I am not noticing any major smoke damage or smell or whatever, so I am hoping this will help my daily back, hip and leg pain.

Just got off the phone with a coworker, adding more to my to-do list for tomorrow at work.

Despite having the flu, I was not able to take a day off work. And won't be able tomorrow either. But coworker is taking three days off to go to Florida on a vacation. I am trying not to think too hard about that.

So I am grateful I have a job, even if I have to work between 60-90 hours a week.
I am grateful there is a roof over my head and my children's heads for this month.
I am grateful my car has not gotten repossessed at this time.
I am grateful I was able to get a small advance from my boss today to buy gas for the car and food for my family.
I am grateful that I am still able to work to try to support my family despite ongoing chronic health issues and worsening health.
I am grateful that I got to take 45 minutes break from work today to take my 4 year old to the library so she could attend story time and make a craft - an owl backpack!
I am grateful that she was able to stay on task the entire time and complete the craft with minimal assistance from me, and that she thanked the librarian afterwards. I am grateful she was very polite and acted so pleasantly. Like a little lady!
I am grateful that I have electricity, water and even Internet access!
I am grateful that I am going to sleep tonight.
I am grateful that my husband did some dishes today and helped me with moving the bed into our apartment.
I am grateful my exhusband is taking the 14 yr old for Spring Break.
I am grateful I live within a 10 minute drive of a park with a waterfall and beautiful brook running through it, so I can pass my love for hiking on to my children.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Sometimes a meeting can cure anything.

Tonight I am grateful I got to go to my Monday night home group meeting. It was a long hectic day at work, so I was glad to get there. I have been feverish, achy and had a sore throat all day, so it was nice to get to sit down and listen to some ESH. Tonight's topic was patience, and I needed to hear it. Not that anyone shook my world with any ideas, but to understand that others also struggle with this, and perhaps even more than I do.

I am also grateful for the "spiritual awakening" moment I had yesterday afternoon and evening. It was a warm, sunny day, (high 60 degrees F) and I took the kids to a park that has some waterfalls and brooks running through it. Waterfalls rejuvenate me somehow, they always have. I also love mountains. They center me somehow.

In doing this, I realized that I am not indispensable to any group, whether it be work or my family or anywhere.

And I also realized that if I keep doing nothing but working, never taking a day off, I am not going to live much longer. And when overwork kills me, there will still be more work, and other people to do the work.

This is both sad and liberating.

When I get like this, I dream of running away, becoming a writer, and not ever looking back.

And there is some small part of me that asks:

What would be so wrong with that?

Saturday, February 20, 2010

First things first

Today was another one of those days where I gave my all, and it was not good enough.

Instead of feeling inadequate however, it afforded me several conclusions:

1. I work harder than anyone I ever met.

2. That work is not worth my life.

3. I no longer am willing to make this trade.

So I came home. I am going to ignore my phone tomorrow and take my first day off since October. If there are any emergencies, someone else is going to have to handle it. Life can go on without me.

And if I don't stop letting myself get stressed out with all this drama, created by others, it will have to go on without me permanently.

So I came home around 9pm from work. And proceeded to have what felt almost like an anxiety attack. And then I put on a nightgown, took my anxiety medication (which I have hoarded from last year when I had insurance coverage), and proceeded to watch a Harry Potter movie. Now I'm in bed on the laptop.

It's time to reassert my boundaries. And stick to them.

It's time to try to save my life.

Before it's not worth saving.

Friday, February 19, 2010


Today has begun like most of the other days this week: harried, full of others miscommunicating and looking for someone else to blame, and I am isolating from it all.

I am going to take deep breaths, try to calm down, and try to get through the training that I am going to teach here in about 20 minutes.....

Serenity Now, isn't that what Mr Constanza and Kramer used to say????

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Blood from a stone

This is how I am feeling today. So far this week I have worked almost 60 hours (and have to work tomorrow and Saturday), and feel like there is no end in sight.

I have been getting lots of calls for people wanting money. It's not that I don't know I owe money. I know I do. It's not that I don't want to pay off my student loans and the car, but I have such a limited amount, that I have to decide what to pay with the small income. If I pay the car loan and the rent, I can't pay the utilities. And god forbid if I buy groceries. Forget clothes and toiletries. I guess I am wondering how other people do it. With the current schedule I can't really get another job (although I have been applying for whatever is hiring). I have also been trying to save money by spending as little money as I can, buying the cheapest groceries, skipping all medical care (except had to fork over $50 to see the therapist last week for 45 minutes), and basically driving as little as I can.

And although I know I shouldn't, I still feel pangs of bitterness that through all of this, my alcoholic can still afford his booze.

So how does one save money in this economy? How does one make money in this economy? When an education and hard work aren't enough?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Another long day....

Today was another long day at work. I started working from home on paperwork and phone calls around 8am, and I just sent my last fax and took my last call a few minutes ago, at 11:30pm.

There was alot to do today. And by working I forgot about my depression and the stress of all the things that are falling apart in my life.

I am sorry to admit this is why I am a workaholic too. It is nothing for me to work days like this, or a series of days like this. It's Tuesday and I have already worked 26 hours. And I am salaried, so I *don't* get paid by the hour.

Work is an escape.
It is where I get my esteem.
And it;s where I can get patted on the back for my perfectionistic, control-freak tendencies.

Like a good and grateful Al-Anon, I can admit all these things now.

So when I look at shortcomings, I have to admit this is one of my shortcomings.
I have to admit the truth.
No matter how well this character defect has served me, it has also brought me alot of resentment and problems.

Today I was able to do what I have to do, and I am not resenting it. Not when it was happening, and not now. This is a gift.

I am happy I was able to get what I got done, and happy to have a job in these economic times.

Finally, I am happy to be home, watching Letterman, typing in bed on my laptop. My laptop is back working (after $250 to replace the hard drive) and we have internet after me paying the $140 bill, plus the $25 reconnect charge.

I am happy I am learning to stay in the bedroom and stay away from my alcoholic who is either drunk or manic, or both, for the second day in a row and is acting loud and bizarre and argumentative.

I am trying not to think about being trapped in my own home by this situation.

This is what I am going to do: read until I fall asleep and then let myself sleep until just before 8am, if possible, and then drive my car to the office instead of leaving it for the alcoholic, so I am not trapped anywhere or dependent upon him to get anywhere.

Try to take care of myself.

Find that next right step.

1, Found an online OA meeting last night and really enjoyed it. Got some ESH and shared some ESH.
2. Found an online Al-Anon meeting last night, and was so happy I did. I still really prefer face to face (f2f) meetings, but when I'm snowed in or unable to face leaving the house, I am so grateful that online meetings exist.
3. My daughter, Tara
4. I have a job
5. I'm able to lie in bed right now.
6. Taking time for a shower this morning, and enjoying the lavender and jasmine shower gel!
7. Caffeine, and going to Starbucks this morning with my boss (he paid again!)
8. That my daughter is still up to see me (since I have been gone all day) and is watching Stupid Pet Tricks with me.
9. My HP, and the people whose blogs I read who inspire me to remember gratitude.

There must be more, but I am getting too sleepy to be coherent...

Monday, February 15, 2010

Snow days and blue days....

There is something about a snow storm that folks aren't ready for.

Overnight we got slammed with the edge of a clipper system (delivering 3 to 6 or 6 to 9 inches, depending on where you are and who you ask), on top of last week's 4 inches of snow, which was on top of the 3 inches and then 2 inches of the week before.... Long story short, our town is running low on salt and today being a federal holiday, they decided not to treat the roads until later. This gave me the fun experience of having to turn around (and get stuck!) on my trip to work this morning, and drive back home.

Something about being back in the house and having limits imposed on my ability to go out and get away from my kids and my husband kind of makes us all a bit stir crazy. Since moving to the apartment, we have no room to get away from each other and just be in a more serene place without all the interruptions.

We are living in basically three rooms here, and it is a far cry from the house we lost.
It has forced us to confront how we don't really get along, and don't really have much in common except living together.

And it has been interesting that we are already holing up in our respective spots in the apartment. The 14 yr old in one bedroom, me in the other, and my husband in the living room.

Not that I've gotten a diagnosis of seasonal affective disorder, but it does seem that this winter has been harder on me. I miss sunlight and warmth. I need space to move around in. And right now, outdoor space is too cold.

So no, we're not in the midst of the snow corridor, but it has been enough to clip my wings enough to cause some anxiety.

I have gotten the nerve up to seek counseling, and got a call today that they are able to shoehorn me in to see a nurse practitioner next week to get back on meds. This was not the easiest decision to make for lots of reasons. First, I am concerned that if it keeps getting worse, I will be forced to take medication my entire life. I also am concerned because I don't have health insurance, so the list of medications I can afford is very limited. And I am not sure I can arrange to see someone who can write a prescription for the meds, especially on an ongoing basis. There is layer upon layer of what is causing me to hesitate when it comes to turning to meds to help again.

On the other hand, 40 years is enough time for me to know that I need something more to help me beat this.

No matter how much my family or my alcoholic criticizes me, I know that I am my own worst critic. This does nothing to help me fight this.

One more thing the weather does is keep me from a meeting. Tonight I am going to look online to see if I can find a online meeting. Some way to get my meeting when I can't get to a meeting.

As I've been typing this I've had the A & E show "Intervention" on. My alcoholic came in and said, "Are you still watching this shit?" Meanwhile I keep typing.

Sorry for the meandering and pointless post. Maybe later I will be able to be more coherent.

I am getting ready to start reading Pia Mellody's Facing Codependence and Breaking Free. I hope they help. My sponsor has recommended them. I am hoping they will help me.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

It's almost Friday....

Today I worked very hard, and in fact, am still at the office after being on the road with work stuff most of the day. I have typed until I am *done,* and a bit dismayed that the blower on the furnace at work is not working so there is no heat. The fingers get stiff and cold, to say the least... but tomorrow is payday, and I can buy a space heater then.

I am feeling good because I got some good affirmation from my boss today, and we got alot accomplished. We traveled through about 1/3 the state and had a pleasant trip.

I came back to the office and made some calls and everyone I talked to was very positive. A person I work with told me that I had made her happy today, and answered her prayers. How often do we get to hear that at work, and know that it comes from the heart??? Awesome.

My alcoholic has gotten two additional shifts at work now, which puts him away for most of the weekend, every weekend. This will help my serenity, and hopefully give me some quiet time. I was discussing this with a fellow Al-Anon, who said this would upset her, as she hates when her husband is away because it "makes her a single parent." I was a single parent for 8 years, and I loved it. And I can handle my daughters most of the time. Sure, they drive me nuts, but hey, they are kids, and pretty amazing considering I have a 14 year old and a 4 year old sharing the same room!

Tomorrow night I have organized a "Fun Party" at work, with my cousin, whom I never get to see, as the distributor. Everyone at work seems to be looking forward to it. And it will be nice to see everyone having fun, and to see my cousin again.

Oh well, I think I need to go home and feed the girls and walk the dog. With any luck I will have Internet access at home again by tomorrow night and will be able to work more on this blog this weekend.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A different take on Step Twelve:

Pardon the strangeness, but today I am completing some final paperwork for a friend of mine who died early Saturday morning and so I am thinking about him.

Anyway, on to Step 12:

Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to {other addicts, alcoholics, others} and to practice these principles in all our affairs

The interesting thing is that the Steps are written in past tense. I have been to alot of meetings where much is made of this, and I have heard lots of different takes on it. Mainly I think it is because the writer(s) of the Big Book, Bill W., et al., are telling us what worked for them. They even say that in parts of the Big Book.

The Step is awesome.

First, it promises us a SPIRITUAL AWAKENING. When I first started in my program, Al-Anon, I was very skeptical about that part. But I was also convinced that my life was unmanageable, and I was at my rock bottom. I was losing my mind. Now, I see and feel more of a spiritual entity in my life.

Case in point:
I had just started working on my friend's paperwork not 45 minutes ago, and I opened the Pandora Radio website, which I listen to at work (if I am not listening to iTunes), and opened Beatles radio, a station I have customized for myself. The VERY FIRST song that came on, WITHOUT BUFFERING, was "In My Life" by the Beatles. I love this song, and want it played at my memorial service.

Here's the lyrics:

There are places I'll remember
All my life, though some have changed
Some forever, not for better
Some have gone and some remain
All these places had their moments
With lovers and friends, I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life, I've loved them all

But of all these friends and lovers
There is no one compares with you
And these memories lose their meaning
When I think of love as something new
Though I know I'll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I'll often stop and think about them
In my life, I'll love you more

Though I know I'll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I'll often stop and think about them
In my life, I'll love you more

Before working the Steps, I would have dismissed this, or not even noticed it. Now I just see it as a gift, a song that I needed hear and feel in my heart. Thanks, HP.

Here's what the Big Book has to say about the 12th Step:

Practical experience shows that nothing will so much insure immunity from drinking as intensive work with other alcoholics. It works when other activities fail. This is our twelfth suggestion: Carry this message to other alcoholics! You can help when no one else can. You can secure their confidence when other fail. Remember they are very ill.

Life will take on new meaning. To watch people recover, to see them help others, to watch loneliness vanish, to see a fellowship grow up about you, to have a host of friends - this is an experience you must not miss. We know you will not want to miss it. Frequent contact with newcomers and with each other is the bright spot of our lives.
-A.A. Big Book p.89

And from Chapter 7:

RACTICAL EXPERIENCE shows that nothing will so much insure immunity from drinking as intensive work with other alcoholics. It works when other activities fail. This is our TWELFTH SUGGESTION: Carry this message to other alcoholics! You can help when no one else can. You can secure their confidence when other fail. Remember they are very ill.

Life will take on new meaning. To watch people recover, to see them help others, to watch loneliness vanish, to see a fellowship grow up about you, to have a host of friends--this is an experience you must not miss. We know you will not want to miss it. Frequent contact with newcomers and with each other is the bright spot of our lives.

The entirety of Chapter 7 is dedicated to Step 12.
Step 12 is how we shine for others so they will think there may be hope for the future.

We show some Step 12 whenever we help a newcomer or lead a meeting where newcomers are present.

Even sharing your book at a meeting with a smile can be the welcoming hand that someone needs to see these Steps are to heaven and out of hell.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Step Eleven:

Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood God, praying only for knowledge of God's will for us and the power to carry that out

I like this wording of the 11th Step - using God twice instead of the Him or Her pronoun. As I've shared before, I use the female pronoun alot in my thinking. It helps me think about my Higher Power outside of the old-time, fire and brimstone punishing Old Testament God. It helps me think of my Higher Power in terms of loving, gentle, forgiving, and personally caring about me.

This is what the Big Book of AA says about the 11th Step:

Step 11 suggests prayer and meditation. We shouldn't be shy in this matter of prayer. Better men than we are using it constantly. It works, if we have the proper attitude and work at it.
-A.A. Big Book p.85-86

And from the next Chapter, "Into Action:"

STEP ELEVEN suggests prayer and meditation. We shouldn't be shy on this matter of prayer. Better men than we are using it constantly. It works, if we have the proper attitude and work at it. It would be easy to be vague about this matter. Yet, we believe we can make some definite and valuable suggestions.

When we retire at night, we constructively review our day. Were we resentful, selfish, dishonest or afraid? Do we owe an apology? Have we kept something to ourselves which should be discussed with another person at once? Were we kind and loving toward all? What could we have done better? Were we thinking of ourselves most of the time? Or were we thinking of what we could do for others, of what we could pack into the stream of life? But we must be careful not to drift into worry, remorse or morbid reflection, for that would diminish our usefulness to others. After making our review we ask God's forgiveness and inquire what corrective measures should be taken.

On awakening let us think about the twenty-four hours ahead. We consider our plans for the day. Before we begin, we ask God to direct our thinking, especially asking that it be divorced from self-pity, dishonest or self-seeking motives. Under these conditions we can employ our mental faculties with assurance, for after all God gave us brains to use. Our thought-life will be placed on a much higher plane when our thinking is cleared of wrong motives.

In thinking about our day we may face indecision. We may not be able to determine which course to take. Here we ask God for inspiration, an intuitive thought or a decision. we relax and take it easy. We don't struggle. We are often surprised how the right answers come after we have tried this for a while.

What used to be the hunch or the occasional inspiration gradually becomes a working part of the mind. Being still inexperienced and having just made conscious contact with God, it is not probable that we are going to be inspired at all times. We might pay for this presumption in all sorts of absurd actions and ideas. Nevertheless, we find that our thinking will, as time passes, be more and more on the plane of inspiration. We come to rely upon it.

We usually conclude the period of meditation with a prayer that we be shown all through the day what our next step is to be, that we be given whatever we need to take care of such problems. We ask especially for freedom from self-will, and are careful to make no request for ourselves only. We may ask for ourselves, however, if others will be helped. We are careful never to pray for our own selfish ends. Many of us have wasted a lot of time doing that and it doesn't work. You can easily see why.

If circumstances warrant, we ask our wives or friends to join us in morning meditation. If we belong to a religious denomination which requires a definite morning devotion, we attend to that also. If not members of religious bodies, we sometimes select and memorize a few set prayers which emphasize the principles we have been discussing. There are many helpful books also. Suggestions about these may be obtained from one's priest, minister, or rabbi. Be quick to see where religious people are right. Make use of what they offer.

As we go through the day we pause, when agitated or doubtful, and ask for the right thought or action. We constantly remind ourselves we are no longer running the show, humbly saying to ourselves many times each day "Thy will be done." We are then in much less danger of excitement, fear, anger, worry, self-pity, or foolish decisions. We become much more efficient. We do not tire so easily, for we are not burning up energy foolishly as we did when we were trying to arrange life to suit ourselves.

It works--it really does.

As I mentioned in my last post, I was lucky enough to attend a BB Study meeting last week on part of the 6th chapter. This is just one way my HP puts information in my world at just the right time, when I am ready to hear it.

I needed to have someone share about what CONSCIOUS contact meant to them, so I could bring that idea into my life in the form of action.

I have to make an earnest and conscious effort to *communicate* with my HP. This doesn't mean to slap a wish list onto whether I am going to believe in my HP. This means to ask for help, but mostly help with what is my HP's will, not mine. After all, my will landed me in a place where *the process of recovery HAS to SAVE my life.*

The will of a Power Greater than myself is all I can really count on for saving me from my illogical thinking and damage I continue to do to myself and my life, as well as those around me. In other words, it can only get better if I let go and let God.

Since I attended that meeting, I have made a conscious effort to start my day with quiet time and prayer and meditation. The one day that I failed to do this, I really felt the difference. I became instantly irritated as soon as the first person interrupted me (and my job is the type that I have to multitask with lots of interruptions). However, when I take time for prayer and meditation, I am able to stop and think BEFORE I erupt in anger or irritation. I am able to respond with more kindness and equanimity when interrupted for the thousandth time over the smallest thing.

So, you may ask, how does a non-Christian pray?

Well, I have a great respect for Jesus, I just don't count myself among his followers. I ask my HP to help me accomplish whatever I am supposed to do that day (and only my HP really knows that I am supposed to accomplish, so there is that too). I ask to be led to the right places and helped to do the right things. And I ask for my shortcomings to be removed - not by me, because I can't do it - but by my HP. If I just act as if, and try to do the next right thing, this falls into place. Or tries to, unless my will interrupts and disrupts the process.

And when that happens... more prayer and meditation.

I find gratitude helps me get in touch with HP when I am resistant or ignorant or just plain willful.

So, for tonight:

I am thankful for:

1. My daughter's sweet little voice as she plays silly in the next room
2. My dog's unconditional love and appreciation
3. This Program I have been led to by, yes, the alcoholic in my life, my husband, so I guess I am thankful for him too!
4. My older daughter sharing some anti-smoking and anti-alcohol campaign posters she designed for an assignment at school
5. My friends showing me some kindness and caring through the blogs and Facebook
6. Attending an Al-Anon meeting tonight and hearing words come out of my mouth that I did not know were going to come out, including asking to read a reading that I did not know I would, or plan on.... very neat experience!
7. My renewed decision to take better care of myself, including lying down to rest this afternoon and making better food choices
8. The possibility of a snow day tomorrow and the fact that I work a flexible job and my boss does not require me to drive in bad weather (he is from Cameroon in Africa, and does not like to drive in snow either!)
9. The fact that my apartment complex has an INDOOR POOL and if we are snowed in I have the option of taking the girls swimming to get them out of the house for some fun and good exercise
10. The chili I made last night was even more delicious tonight
11. Getting to see my mother and my niece and nephew today
12. Going to pick up the grocery staples we needed (milk, eggs, bread) after my Al-Anon meeting tonight
13. The presence of a borrowed movie, library books and TWO sets of speaker tapes in my apartment so I will be plenty entertained if I get snowed in
14. Internet access and my computer has a new hard drive, double the size of the old one, so it is working even better
15. Open AA meetings where I can learn how to live

Good night, and good gratitudes to you.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Step Ten:

Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it

This is what the AA Big Book has to say about Step 10:

How It Works

This thought brings us to Step Ten, which suggests we continue to take personal inventory and continue to set right any new mistakes as we go along. We vigorously commenced this way of living as we cleaned up the past. We have entered the world of the Spirit. Our next function is to grow in understanding and effectiveness. This is not an overnight matter. It should continue for our lifetime. Continue to watch for selfishness, dishonesty, resentment, and fear. When these crop up, we ask God at once to remove them. We discuss them with someone immediately and make amends quickly if we have harmed anyone. Then we resolutely turn our thoughts to someone we can help. Love and tolerance of others is our code.
And we have ceased fighting anything or anyone--even alcohol. For by this time sanity will have returned. We will seldom be interested in liquor. If tempted, we recoil from it as from a hot flame. We react sanely and normally, and we will find that this has happened automatically. We will see that our new attitude toward liquor has been given us without any thought or effort on our part. It just comes! That is the miracle of it. We are not fighting it, neither are we avoiding temptation. We feel as though we had been placed in a position of neutrality--safe and protected. We have not even sworn off. Instead, the problem has been removed. It does not exist for us. We are neither cocky nor are we afraid. That is our experience. That is how we react so long as we keep in fit spiritual condition.

It is easy to let up on the spiritual program of action and rest on our laurels. We are headed for trouble if we do, for alcohol is a subtle foe. We are not cured of alcoholism. What we really have is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition. Every day is a day when we must carry the vision of God's will into all of our activities. "How can I best serve Thee--Thy will (not mine) be done." These are thoughts which must go with us constantly. We can exercise our will power along this line all we wish. It is the proper use of the will.

Much has already been said about receiving strength, inspiration, and direction from Him who has all knowledge and power. If we have carefully followed directions, we have begun to sense the flow of His Spirit into us. To some extent we have become God-conscious. We have begun to develop this vital sixth sense. But we must go further and that means more action.
-A.A. Big Book p.84-86

I was extremely blessed (see how my Higher Power works miracles?) to attend a Big Book Study meeting of AA last week and we read the parts about Steps 10 and 11. Because of the sharings I heard at this meeting, I have actively tried to work Step 7 more thoroughly through daily prayer and meditation.

It has made a huge difference.

I have noticed that I am better able to sense when I am being mean or irritable or short with others. I have also been able to take time to try to take a nap today, and not be panicked about the things that are not getting done in the cleaning of my apartment. I have enjoyed cuddling with my 4 year old daughter and my dog today, in bed. And we all seem to be happier. At one point I was fussing at my daughter, and she just put her hands over her ears. That really was a slap to attention for me.

She can't listen to what I am saying because of how I am saying it.

How often has this happened to me, in my own life? My family members have given me wisdom over the years and I have not heeded it because it was accompanied with negativity or insults or hurtful words.

It will take DAILY if not HOURLY inventory-taking of myself on my part to break the cycle of this shortcoming and take the sting out of my words to others.

Thank my HP that my youngest is only 4 and I can change my ways before she thinks of me as this shrill shrew forever.

Step 10 to me says that I will continue to work the 4th and possibly the 5th Step and then the 9th so I can continue to grow.

I know I have more shortcomings than I can ever address. I have to trust my HP to continue to bring these to my attention so I can work on them daily.

And the other piece - when I am wrong, I PROMPTLY admit it.

This is so hard for me. I hate to be wrong. (laughing out loud here) I mean, I'm in Al-Anon because I, in all my rightness, could not fix that alcoholic I married.

On the other hand, I named my blog The Not Right Writer. So on some level, I *know* I'm not right.

Admission of wrongs is very freeing. It lets me say, "Hey, this is not working," so I can go ahead and do something else.

If I do this on a daily basis, hourly basis, if I continue to take personal inventory, then I can do the next right thing the very next time. I can change my mind. I can make things better.

What a gift.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Saturday evening gratitude

This morning I was awakened earlier than usual by work-related things that had to be done, so I did not get a chance to do a morning prayer and meditation, and I felt it all day.
To address this, I am going to take a few minutes now to do so... Better late than never, and it will help me rest better tonight as well as be more positive to my children and husband.

Today I am grateful that I got to attend a meeting.
I am grateful that I LISTENED more and talked less so I could hear the voice of my HP in the sharings of my Al-Anon friends as we discussed STEP TWO.
I am grateful that I just happened to bring my Paths to Recovery book, and that was what the person leading the meeting wanted to use as readings.
I am grateful that I heard some words, "God did for me what I could not do for myself," today for like the 100th time, but I was able to really hear it and think about how it can apply to my depression.
I am grateful I went to an economical lunch of healthy vegetable -based soup and salad (tomato basil soup and shrimp/spinach salad!) with my Al-Anon group after the meeting.
I am grateful that a book I ordered on living a more simple life came in to the bookstore and I got to go pick it up. I am also grateful that my HP has used my losing my home to lead me to live a simpler life.
I am grateful that after the bookstore we went to Whole Foods and I did not buy anything, but I did look around and think how I could make changes in the shopping I do for my family to make things simpler and cheaper while actually raising our quality of life.
I am grateful I got some time away from my daughters today and then when I came home they have not fought with me or been cruel to me, or have I felt like I must yell to defend myself.
I am grateful that my husband worked a full shift today and then came home and made supper and served me in bed! I was very surprised and grateful for this.
I am grateful that I am going to rest this evening and I don't have to go back out again or drive anyone anywhere.
I am also grateful that there is a breakfast meeting down the road tomorrow morning, and I am planning on going.

Thanks for reading. I am grateful to the blogosphere for the wisdom I get from reading. I may not always comment, but I read the blogs I follow faithfully. Because they teach me so much.

Step Nine:

Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others

And from the AA Big Book:
Although these reparations take innumerable forms, there are some general principles which we find guiding. Reminding ourselves that we have decided to go to any lengths to find a spiritual experience, we ask that we be given strength and direction to do the right thing, no matter what the personal consequences may be. We may lose our position or reputation or face jail, but we are willing. We have to be. We must not shrink at anything.
-A.A. Big Book p.79

After Step Nine, in the Big Book, are the Promises. These are read at every AA meeting, and every time I hear or read them I feel a glimmer of hope:

The 12 promises are from pps. 83-84 of the Big Book.
If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through . . .

We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness.
We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.
We will comprehend the word serenity.
We will know peace.
No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others.
That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear.
We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows.
Self-seeking will slip away.
Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change.
Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us.
We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us.
We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.
Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fullfilled among us - sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them.

It says they will ALWAYS materialize if we work for them.

A few Al-Anon meetings ago, I mentioned that I was grateful for the AA Promises. I was informed by some oldtimers that we in Al-Anon have our own Promises. Sooooo.... extra credit to the person who can name the source and cite the Al-Anon promises.

Okay, Step Nine is, for me, in my immediate future. Steps Six and Seven have been eating my lunch, kicking my butt, and finally opening my eyes and heart. I have my list of persons harmed from my Step 4 and 5. So as I see it, I just got to get willing to face alot of those people and then I will begin Step Nine, the act of being responsible for my part to these people.

Amends can take many different forms. Sometimes they are an apologizing. Other times they are a recognizing and a payment of a debt. Other times they are just the openmindedness and good will to begin a complicated or troubled relationship anew so it can grow from healthier soil.

I almost made the typo there of saying "so it can grow from healthier SOUL." Very interesting.

Part of my Step 7 working is to know there are NO coincidences.

Rest assured, Dear Reader, that I will write more about Step 9 as I live it. For now, my only words are that I see it as a necessary operation to the soul. And this program has not led me astray yet.

(On a sadder note, I want to pause here for a moment of sadness, grief and gratitude. Tonight a friend had what appeared to be a seizure and quit breathing. He was revived by emergency services, and taken to the hospital. He passed away about 4 hours later. He will be missed. But I am grateful for having known him and being able to work with him. His simple love of life, enjoyment in the small things, and love and appreciation for those who cared for him was touching and both a gift and a lesson for me. Thank you, Sammy.)

Friday, February 5, 2010

Morning Meditation upon Gratitude

Hey HP,
Thanks for the note about taking care of my problems today. I needed that reminder. In fact, I seem to need it everyday. Think I should print it out so I can see it on the bathroom mirror? I thought so.
Thanks for a night of sleep. I appreciated getting to lay this broken shell down for a few hours.
Thank you also for the 1 1/2 hours of quiet I have had this morning. It has helped alot.
Thank you for a job that is flexible about when I go into work in the mornings. On mornings when I have pain, it takes me longer and being accommodated in that way helps me stay sane!
Thank you for my sweet little daughter. Thank you for her love and her positive energy, and the message you send to me daily through her: that as long as I try to do my best, I can be forgiven for the times I am irritable or unreasonable.
Thank you for the teenager. Thank you for showing me my shortcomings in the mirror that is her eyes. I place her in your care, because I am inadequate to handle her anymore.
Thank you for being there when I am talking and when I am giving you the silent treatment.
Thank you for being patient with my stupidity as I muck around and try to figure things out for myself.
Thank you for laughing gently and being indulgent with me as I figured out that all I have to be is willing. And thank you for accepting my willingness, no matter how long it took.
Thank you for the roof over my head, the food we have, and the friends I have in this world. Please keep taking care of them, You do so much better than I ever can or could.
Thank you for the readings you have given me, and the program that you led me to.
Thank you for saving my life when I was trying to waste it.
Thank you for giving me life when I didn't deserve or appreciate it.
Thank you for giving me an open mind and respect for all your people.
Thank you for being there.
Peace out.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Step Eight:

Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all

From the AA Big Book:

How It Works

We have a list of all persons we have harmed and to whom we are willing to make amends. We made it when we took inventory. We subjected ourselves to a drastic self- appraisal. Now we go out to our fellows and repair the damage done in the past. We attempt to sweep away the debris which has accumulated out of our effort to live on self-will and run the show ourselves. If we haven't the will to do this, we ask until it comes. Remember it was agreed at the beginning we would go to any lengths for victory over alcohol.
-A.A. Big Book p.76

This is the Step I take next. Me and my HP are still sitting on Step 7. Well, I am sitting and HP is smiling at me indulgently, much as one would at the child I am.

The deal is, most of the people I listed in my Step 4 are no longer in my life. Through death or being in distant geographic places. Those that are still in my life, well, amends are going to be difficult.

But that's okay. No one said these Steps would be a painless process. I can be rather dense, so sometimes I need to be reminded of my life lessons in a painful or difficult manner. That's okay.

Maybe I will wise up SOON so things won't have to hurt so badly?

(An aside: I was at a meeting on Monday and fighting the beginnings of a heavy depression. I commented that I was tired of people telling me what a strong person I am for having put with my alcoholic, or having lived through suicides of friends, or attempted suicides of friends or whatever, and I wanted the opportunity to NOT be strong. ???What was that??? When I look back on this comment, I think it is just me wanting to escape, and the only thing I keep trying to escape is myself, being me.)

Yesterday my boss took me and the other half of the management team out to lunch at a nice restaurant to thank us for all our hard work. We had some great conversation, and he said some pretty insightful stuff. One thing he said struck me and has stayed with me. He said that people should be able to deal with anything as long as people (others as well as ourselves!) are honest. And yet sometimes that is the hardest part.

This Step, Step 8, is about honesty as well as willingness. I have to look at who I owe amends to, and I have to be willing to make them. The Program is kind to us though, and saves the actual amends making until the next Step. In this, as in Step Six, I am being asked to be willing.

And how can I not be willing when I have already been literally saved by working these Steps up to this point?

As I mentioned in an early post, I was able to make amends for my immaturity and dependency to my grandmother on Sunday, June 7, 2009. In the early Monday morning of the 8th of June, she died. I was standing in my kitchen at my house, which I have now lost, when my mother called to tell me the news. A piece of my heart was ripped away when I heard her cries, and it is still gone and hurts still. But I have this program to thank because REGRET is not poisoning my grief. She knew I love her. She told me she loved me too.

There are others I was not able to make amends to. From the experience, strength and hope I have gotten from others in Al-Anon meetings with me, I know that is NOT too late to make amends to the people who have died. More than one person had told me about graveside amends, and about writing a letter, reading it aloud and watching it go up to heaven in smoke. Those people have passed on to another realm, and they know when we are sorry and when we have made our amends. Everyone does the best they can until they learn better, and I completely believe that people who have died know this truth better because they have passed on. (I have no idea if this makes sense, but I feel this strongly.)

Finally there will be those who I have to face and fess up to. I don't relish that, but I look forward to knowing that they will know I have done my best until I knew better, and now know better. I will look forward to the removal of regret.

Thanks for listening...
May all your dealings be honest, and not create an amends for later!

And from the Urban Dictionary....

Supposedly you can type your name in and get a little blurb.

Mine's not little:

Terre 5 up, 1 down
buy terre mugs, tshirts and magnets
an earthy beauty that debates eloquently or ghetto,with or without facts, for fun and to force dynamic-diverse perspectives on the subject debated; the reflection of a bright gapped tooth smile on a yellow happy face; a momme who keeps it too real with her children-mistakes included so they are taught humanism; the color of the bright and yellow paint on Honey's wall; Krazy AzzAuntie;a pressence of opposition that provoke
violence in a vengeful manner;an independent person who loves to sing to music stuck on mental replay; a beautiful mind not afraid of existing in the constraints & safety of a snow bubble world of their own; aka Res Nullius; Suo Jure-;Ride or Die lover who never forgives bullshit! Radiant,
Mr. Right had a wonderful evening with his date because she was Terre.
happy defiante yellow vengence thought provoking debate loving earth strong willed bitch radiant radiantice
by Dixi Suo Jure Aug 27, 2008 share this

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

What keeps you hangin' on....

Last night after her bath, Tara (my 4 yr old daughter) cuddled up on the couch and fell asleep in less than 5 minutes. Ok, Letterman was on, and she loves Letterman, but after a full day of diva-dom, she just had to sleep.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Step Seven:

Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

The AA Big Book has this to say about Step Seven:

How It Works

When ready, we say something like this: "My Creator, I am now willing that you should have all of me, good and bad. I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character which stands in the way of my usefulness to you and my fellows. Grant me strength, as I go out from here, to do your bidding. Amen." We have then completed Step Seven.
-A.A. Big Book p.76

Notice the Big Book basically gives us a prayer? Yeah, I wanted more too!

But then I realized, I need to shut up and pray!

Prayer is one of those things that I don't do well. Well, I used to. I have felt my heart thrum with the beat of something Greater and More Powerful than I will ever be. I was raised Catholic, and was very influenced by my grandmother and grandfather (whom I have discussed here) whose favorite prayer was the Rosary. The last time I said the Rosary was at my grandmother's wake, and I was lulled and comforted by the words as well as the feeling she would have been so happy people were praying with her one last time.

The key word here is HUMBLY.

In Step Six, I had to think long and hard about why I was clinging to my character defects, and how they are serving me. When I realized that they were doing nothing but slowing me down and distancing me from what and where I need to be, I became less willing to cling to them.

This week I have been looking at another character defect of mine - depression.
How does depression serve me?
Does it get me out of work? No. But does it tell me when I need to stop and take care of myself? Yes.
It also teaches me that I am powerless over my emotions.
But feelings are NOT facts.
So am I ready to let it go?

Having lived this long, I have to scream YES.
Because if I don't let it go, it is not going to let me go.

And having lived through this, I know that I need to ask Something Bigger, Better and More Powerful than me to take it away.

And I need to do this humbly. As if I could reasonably be anything but.

So here is my 7th Step Prayer:

Sweet HP, I am now willing that you should have all of me, good and bad. I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character which stands in the way of my usefulness to you and yours. Grant me strength, as I go out from here, to do your wise wants, not mine. Amen.


I am so blessed to be able to read the wondrous and wise things people have been posting as comments to my last post.

I was in a dark place, and still am, to a degree. But in the midst of this, I made some choices I want to share:

1. I put one foot in front of the other and walked about a block or so to my home group Al-Anon meeting. When asked for topic suggestions, I spoke up. I asked for "This too shall pass." (Imagine my surprise when more than one person commented with this slogan as well!)

2. To get to the meeting, I had to walk over a bridge. I did stop on the bridge, but I kept thinking about my 4 year old daughter's face, and I kept walking to the meeting.

3. I stayed after the meeting and talked to my co-sponsor. (I call her my co-sponsor because she is the second sponsor I have, my first lives in another county now [I moved] and this one lives closer and attends meetings that I do. My first sponsor's path and mine cross less and less since I moved.) Listening to her wisdom always helps. She is a down to earth and wonderful, wise woman.

4. I went to run errands with a friend after that. I did not go straight home.

5. When I got home the alcoholic was manic and drunk and making no sense. Instead of making excuses for him in front of the guest that was there, I asked him what he meant. When he could not make sense, I told him that he was not making sense and does not make sense to me when he is drunk, so I would need to talk to him tomorrow when he sobers up. I did not engage further.

6. Earlier today I got a book by Dr Wayne Dyer - and then the wise, wondrous and loving Ms Hen asks me if I know Dr Dyer. I picked up "Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life" at lunch today.

7. I called and set up a mental health appointment for myself on the 9th of this month. I don't have health insurance, or much money, but this is another part of my recovery that I have to take care of. This is part of the taking care of myself that I can't ignore anymore.

So, this is my long-winded and winding THANK YOU and BLESS YOU to everyone who cared enough to read, and everyone who cared enough to comment.

I am no stranger to this hideous disease called depression. I have walked into this neighborhood more than once, and still it scares me to death.

Thanks for helping me see I am not alone.

Not a good day....

In the past I have made no secret that I have dealt with severe depression in the past.

It appears that it is back for another round.

If I had known that growing up, growing up, and existing was this hard, I never would have bothered.

The alcoholic continues to drink.

I continue to want to escape it all.

Step Seven may have to wait a few days.