After a lovely weekend, it was time to make the three-hour drive back home. I know this drive well. I take the same familiar route almost every weekend.
I headed out west on a beautiful day. Puffy, white clouds floated through the blue sky. There was a hint of rain on the horizon ahead.
Brand new green grass waved in the rolling fields. Spring flowers were scattered everywhere -- in the fields, in the trees. It was a gorgeous spring day and a delightful drive.
I rounded a turn, dipped down into a hill, and climbed upward. Upon reaching the hill's crest, the clouds in the distance suddenly seemed uncomfortably dark, close, and foreboding.
The hint of rain showers gave way to a storm. The storm was heading my way, and I was heading its way. We would soon meet on the road.
The closer I got, the darker the clouds seemed. Bold strikes of lightning ripped through the sky. Thunder rattled my mirrors. Wind tore through the trees.
I considered taking a detour. But even if I did, I would still be stuck driving in the storm.
I considered turning around. But even if I did, the storm would have followed me.
I considered stopping. But even if I did, I would be stuck in the storm and making no progress.
So I steadily traveled on the trusted route that I knew would take me home. First, there were only a few sprinkles. But then as quick as a switch, an unforgiving torrent blasted the road.
I was nervous while driving through the storm. I was scared of the storm itself. Nature is a force best left unchallenged. I was scared of the other drivers around me. Traffic is a hazard best left untrusted.
I kept driving. The rain would start to ease, but immediately pour down again. I wondered how long this storm would last.
But slowly the lightning became less frequent, the downpour eased to harmless sprinkles, and the wind became gentle once again. The clouds brightened and thinned to reveal the beautiful blue sky hidden behind them. It had been there all along. Hidden, but there.
And once again, brand new green grass waved in the rolling fields. Spring flowers were scattered everywhere -- in the fields, in the trees. It was a gorgeous spring day and a delightful drive, again.
I realized my experience driving through the storm is very similar to weathering life's storms. There is always the instinct to turn away from the trusted road when I find myself in undesirable situations. But I know the way to go.
When weathering a storm, I must keep doing the next right thing: "And this too shall pass."
Sober since April 6, 2006
Monday, April 21, 2008
Monday, March 31, 2008
"Still more wonderful is the feeling that we do not have to be specially distinguished among our fellows in order to be useful and profoundly happy. Not many of us can be leaders of prominence, nor do we wish to be. Service, gladly rendered, obligations squarely met, troubles well accepted or solved with God's help, the knowledge that at home or in the world outside we are partners in a common effort, the well-understood fact that in God's sight all human beings are important, the proof that love freely given surely brings a full return, the certainty that we are no longer isolated and alone in self-constructed prisons, the surety that we need no longer be square pegs in round holes but can fit and belong in God's scheme of things -- these are the permanent and legitimate satisfactions of right living for which no amount of pomp and circumstance, no heap of material possessions, could possibly be substitutes. True ambition was not what we thought it was. True ambition is the deep desire to live usefully and walk humbly under the grace of God."
I read this the other day at a meeting. It's what I'm trying to think about during my day.
Just checking in. I'm still sober, still employed, still looking for a job in another city, still engaged ... not much changes around here except for my attitude and outlook.
There are ups and downs but it all averages out well.
Sunday, March 09, 2008
Thursday, February 07, 2008
need a job? apply directly to the website, apply directly to the website, apply directly to the website
Apply at fifty thousand websites, and maybe you'll get a call back within the next year or so. At least, that's how it feels sometimes. Most employers won't take paper applications anymore -- it's all done online, which reduces the face-to-face interaction that many job seekers would like. First impressions used to be personal. Now they're Word documents. I'm just one of a million résumés floating around in cyberspace. Plus it's not exactly encouraging to read that the US lost 17,000 jobs last month. I get to compete with those people too.
But I am grateful that I can meet this opportunity head on (pun intended), without retreating to a bottle. When I graduated from college, I was drinking. I only applied to two or three places within a four-month span. I was afraid to apply because I was afraid of rejection. When nobody responded to my applications, I gave up the job search and got a job in retail. I had to apply online for that job too, lol!
So now, I've lost count of how many applications I've completed within the past month. I usually find one or two each day. I don't fear the rejection anymore. I choose to see it as "God doing for me what I cannot do for myself" -- eliminating the jobs where I don't belong. It's not so bad when looking at it that way.
I can't wait to relocate. I really want to be with my fiancé. I just wish one of these employers would respond to my application. Or perhaps, I need to apply to the "right" place ...
You know, I didn't pray for patience for a reason. I don't like lessons in patience. I don't want lessons in patience. But maybe we just learn what God wants us to learn, when He wants us to learn it. "Not my will but Yours be done."
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
My boyfriend and I got engaged :)
I haven't posted much because I've been so busy. Engagement and wedding planning etiquette has always been uncharted territory for me. Some ladies plan their weddings during their childhood and teenage years, but I was pessimistic and afraid to hope for good things. Me, a bride? Ha! Never.
But now that an actual wedding is on the horizon, I am discovering that there is so much to do. It's a good thing we are planning a spring 2009 wedding!
My fiancé moved to a city 3 hours away last fall. So I'm looking for a job there. I'm not having any luck yet. It's discouraging, but that's okay.
I've never been engaged before. I've lived here in this town since I was 6 years old. I've lived in this house with my parents for 15 years. This is my first time to leave their house. It's also my first time to move to a new city.
New relationship situation, new living situation, new city, new job. There is some amount of fear in all of that. It's not a bad thing -- it's just a big change.
We've gone to some AA meetings in the new city. I like them -- everyone is really nice. The meetings there are similar in structure and atmosphere, so there is no "culture shock". They have an Alano club that hosts meetings every day at various times. That's great since I don't know my way around town yet -- I can go to one place for all of my meetings.
Thanks to all who emailed and posted comments. I will try to write when I can. Still staying sober with God's help, one day at a time.
Thursday, December 20, 2007
I'm grateful, very grateful.
I was walking my dog the other night, and something dawned on me. His ability to forgive and love is amazing.
While we were walking, I realized that he didn't care about the things I did a few hours earlier that hurt his feelings: I took his half-destroyed toy (choking hazard) away. I "shushed" him for barking. I scolded him for stealing a sock from the laundry.
He's very expressive, so it was plain to see that the chastisements hurt his feelings. He sulked for a few minutes, but he didn't hold it against me. He forgave me almost immediately. He was happy -- as if nothing had gone wrong.
I realized that when people upset me, I hold it against them. I'll harbor the resentment until I fall apart. I stay miserable the entire time.
But watching my dog reminded me that forgiveness brings happiness. He has no pride or ego -- he just has love in its most pure form. I think we are all born with that kind of love, and it's a good goal to love unconditionally like that again.
What a beautiful example.
It reminds me of the prayer, "God, help me to be the person my dog thinks I am."
Today, I'm especially thankful for ...
- being sober
- my family
- my sweet dog
- my job
- being able to buy gifts for loved ones
- being healthy
- learning new things
- God, because He sends messages in such obvious ways that they're easy to miss ...
Sunday, December 02, 2007
I went to a meeting about the 6th step today:
"Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character."
These defects are supposed to be highlighted when we do steps 4 and 5 (In the 4th step, we conduct an honest moral inventory of ourselves. In the 5th step, we confess the exact nature of our wrongs to God and to another person).
So it makes sense that after seeing our behavior patterns for step 4 and sharing them with someone for step 5, we would have the desire to become better people for step 6.
For the glaring and obviously harmful defects, we immediately feel the desire to change. But the other less harmful defects don't bring about the same sense of urgency.
Today, we read in the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions:
"Self-righteous anger also can be very enjoyable. In a perverse way we can actually take satisfaction from the fact that many people annoy us, for it brings a comfortable feeling of superiority," (p. 67).
If someone had asked me last week if I engage in self-righteous anger, I would have denied it. But after reading this passage today, I see that I've been using this defect for quite some time now, especially at work.
In fact, it's the only reason I haven't walked out the door yet. The job has become such an annoyance that it has almost become a source of entertainment. "I will be nicer if you will be smarter" is a subconscious mantra. I have felt this way at other jobs before ... I'm starting to see a pattern.
I'm grateful to be sober today ... and I'm grateful to be tired enough to go to bed too ...
Sunday, November 25, 2007
This turned out to be a weekend of gratitude.
I got to ride with my boyfriend on his motorcycle in the cold for the first time. The wind chill was about 25°F (-3°C) for the 150-mile (241 km) ride. That may not sound so bad, but man it was cold! I'm glad to have the experience. I've never been more grateful for a steaming cup of hot chocolate.
While we were out of town, we went to a meeting. They read Dr. Bob's story from the Big Book ("Dr. Bob's Nightmare"). The thing that really caught my attention was the prohibition part.
Around here, alcohol is prominently displayed in all gas stations, convenience stores, grocery stores, and markets. It's virtually everywhere. You can't avoid it. Newcomers have a really hard time with it and often share that they wish they weren't constantly bombarded with bottles every time they try to buy groceries or gas.
Well Dr. Bob was a guy who spent years trying to stop drinking, and then like a miracle, the government outlawed alcohol. Surely that would fix his problem. He was essentially given every AA newcomer's dream -- alcohol was removed from public view. But even so, Dr. Bob still found other ways to obtain alcohol and also started taking pills, which made things worse.
It illustrates that the problem isn't with alcohol, it's with the alcoholic. It's insanity. When alcohol is removed, our natural tendency is to find other ways to continue self-destructive behavior. I'm not sure if the alcoholic's obsession is really with alcohol ... I think the obsession is with self-destruction.
Tonight, I went on my first 12-step call. I didn't know what to expect, but I'm glad I went. She talked about her obsession with self-destruction. The alcohol was just a tool. I hope she will soon believe that she is worthy of treating herself well and living a good life. Learning to love yourself is the hardest part.
I'm grateful to be sober today, and that I don't want to self-destruct.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
My favorite Thanksgiving picture.
Tonight's meeting turned into a gratitude meeting, which makes most people squirm in their seats and want to leave. I'm not sure why people are so aversive . I guess once you've heard one gratitude meeting, you've heard them all.
Sometimes it helps to hear someone else share about their gratitude. They point out things that I've taken for granted.
Like one of my friends can eat now. He had a tube in his stomach last Thanksgiving due to chemo. He couldn't eat for almost a whole year. I've never had that kind of medical problem, so that's something I take for granted.
Another friend is no longer having to coordinate getting her teenage son in and out of jail and into and out of treatment centers. I don't have any kids or family members in that situation, so that's something I take for granted.
And everyone really has something unique to say ... but I don't really feel like I have anything unique to contribute.
Looking back over the past year through this blog, I can see how I have changed. Some is positive and some is negative. I've learned what I need to do to grow and to be happy. But my thinking tends to be more cynical. (But I call it "realistic" ... the truth is, life is a mixture of good and bad things. In the end, it fulfills an ultimately good purpose. But the bad parts really suck.)
I'm thankful to be sober, to have my family, to have friends, to have a relationship with God, to have a job, to have a roof over my head, to have good health, and to occasionally have the clarity to find gratitude for things overlooked.
Monday, November 19, 2007
- to be sober
- that I still have my family
- that we all had a nice weekend
- that I got to have lunch with my wonderful boyfriend
- for the beautiful flowers my boyfriend gave me today. All of my coworkers' husbands got in trouble ... ("My husband hasn't given me flowers in years!")
- to get a refresher course on cooking dressing
- for my nice warm bed
- that I can look back in this blog and see patterns and trends in my behavior ... I realize the blog has been more about work lately and less about AA. Part of that is because work has become more important. As a result, I'm not as happy overall as I used to be. Hrm ... pattern?
- for God, because His plans cannot be derailed.
Friday, November 16, 2007
- I'm sober
- I get to go to my homegroup meeting tonight
- I get to spend the weekend with people I love
- Hopefully my parents will get to meet my boyfriend's mom this weekend
- I have a job to go back to Monday morning. It sucks, but it's better than nothing.
- God sees the big picture, and He's not freaking out
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
I love my job, I love the pay!
I love it more and more each day.
I love my boss, she is the best!
I love her boss and all the rest.
I love my office and its location,
I hate to have to go on vacation.
I love my furniture, drab and gray,
And piles of paper that grow each day!
I think my job is really swell,
There's nothing else I love so well.
I love to work among my peers,
I love their leers, and jeers, and sneers.
I love my computer and its software;
I hug it often though it won't care.
I love each program and every file.
I'd love them more if they worked a while.
I'm happy to be here. I am. I am.
I'm the happiest slave of the Firm, I am.
I love this work, I love these chores.
I love the meetings with deadly bores.
I love my job - I'll say it again -
I even love those friendly men.
Those friendly men who've come today,
In clean white coats to take me away!!!
Thank God for meetings ... I'm about to snap.
Actually, my boss is great. And her bosses are great. It's just the rest of the company (and the mean, cruel policies) that I can't stand.
I have one of those Human Resources positions where I constantly witness extreme disparity.
One minute, a clerk making $6/hour calls to ask why she wasn't issued any vacation for the year, because she hurt her back and our company doesn't provide Sick time to clerks. I have to explain that she didn't work enough hours to earn the vacation ... she missed it by a few hours. She complains, asks me how she's going to pay her bills, and hangs up scared.
The next minute, a millionaire executive calls to complain that he was only issued 4 weeks of vacation instead of 6 -- and how is that $250,000 bonus going to affect his 401-k? I want to beat the bloody hell out of him, and let the clerk throw a few punches too.
The disparity pisses me off. The policies are bullshit. They're designed to make the rich richer and the poor poorer. I simply can't put up with it anymore. It's wrong. It isn't fair.
I understand that every company operates like this, but I wish I worked in a position where I didn't have to see it. Because when I see it, I want to do something to fix it ... but I can't. Nobody listens, nobody cares.
And that sucks.
I'm not cut out for this type of job. I hate it. I hate it. I hate it. I can't wait to leave.
Sunday, November 11, 2007
"A person starts to live when he can live outside himself."
When I read that quote today, it reminded me of the third step prayer:
"God, I offer myself to Thee - to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of life. May I do Thy will always!"
Living outside of self ... It's been difficult to do that lately, because I haven't been getting my way.
People don't treat me the way I think they should. Things don't go according to plan. I fall short of my own expectations. I'm afraid to be honest with my feelings. Uncertainty is stressful. The environment at work is demoralizing.
Yeah, other people are experiencing problems too. But what about me? That attitude is selfish and conceited ... but honest. It's the "bondage of self".
And I'm told that when I feel this way, I need to pray and get outside of self ... that is when a person starts to live.
Thursday, November 01, 2007
It's just been one of those weeks.
The repeating theme of every day is that no matter how hard I try or how good I do -- something always blows up in the end.
The stress is getting to me. I went to work shaking this morning. Had a headache all day.
When I came home, I started a project to make some curtains. I'm no seamstress by any stretch of the imagination. It took 45 minutes to figure out how to properly thread the sewing machine. And I had the instruction manual. Heh. So I'm no Einstein by any stretch of the imagination either.
After two hours of measuring, pinning, and sewing, I was done. Finally. I did something right after a whole week filled with failure.
The curtains just needed to be ironed to get the wrinkles out.
I recently bought a new iron, but I wasn't familiar with the dial yet. As I lowered the iron to the edge of the curtains, the nylon fabric floated up and melted instantly on the iron's surface. The fabric was ruined. I wanted to cry. Not again!
And that cycle of frustration has been repeating on loop all week. One thing after another, and it all adds up. I've never had so many things go wrong before.
They say "Life isn't about what happens to you, it's about how you react to it."
I didn't drink. I didn't beat anyone up. I didn't walk out on the job. I didn't insult or swear at anyone (out loud), though I really wanted to.
Nothing this week was ruined beyond repair. I turned right around and made things right. Sometimes it took some help from other people, which hurts my pride, but that's okay. Maybe that's why so many things went wrong ...
As for now, I have a headache again. It's time for bed.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Well apparently I've done a very good job at work. I received an excellent job review and lots of praise from my supervisor and bosses.
The impossible project they assigned to me is going well, despite the fact that I'm having to reinvent the wheel to make it happen.
I started to feel unappreciated though, when I didn't receive a salary increase with my job review. They said it was because I was promoted within the past six months, so I got my salary increase at that time instead. I didn't really like that answer, but I didn't say anything and went along with it anyway.
And then they issued the company-wide bonus checks yesterday. It's the big Annual Bonus Check. The magical check. The check everyone looks forward to receiving -- the Mark Grizwold fantasy bonus check (see the movie "Christmas Vacation").
Mine was for $25. Everyone else's was for much, much more.
I can't help but feel terribly insulted ... I didn't get a performance raise, I didn't get a bonus, and they assigned me a project that is too work-intense for them to do themselves, and too difficult for my coworkers to do. That should be worth something right?
I wanted to tell them to reverse that bonus check -- because it's insulting and I don't want it. That seems to be pride. But what's the difference between pride and standing up for yourself?
I'm not the kind of person to complain. But I really want to quit. I'm so tempted to walk away. But that would be irresponsible on my part without having another job lined up.
I don't like being angry ... I don't like making a fuss ... but I don't like being taken advantage of either.
I feel like I should say something. But I'm afraid that if I open my mouth, I'll say something regrettable. It's hard to find "balance" in something like this.
A year ago, I was so thankful to get this job. I felt so lucky to finally have a job. And although I'm still thankful to be employed, I'm resentful toward the way I'm being treated.
Maybe it's time to be thankful to get a job somewhere else.
Note Added: October 19, 2007
I went in for a one-on-one progress meeting with my supervisor today. I was considering telling her about how I felt. But so far I hadn't mentioned any disappointment to anyone.
My supervisor entered the meeting room, but then she was followed by another supervisor, the manager, and the director. It was either going to be very good news or very bad news.
They explained that everyone received bonus checks, but mine was small because I was hired a few days after the start of the 2006 financial year. And they didn't think it was fair that my bonus was so small due to a minor technicality.
They presented me with a "Thank You" card that they had all signed, and it contained a Visa gift card for $100.
I'm very glad that I didn't voice the disappointment I felt yesterday.
It's hard to know when to shut-up and when to speak-up. Maybe that's one of those things that comes with time?
Thursday, October 11, 2007
It's that time of year at work again. That wonderful time of year. Our jobs -- no -- our very lives -- exist for the sole purpose of making it happen.
The first half of the year is spent recovering from last year's event. The third quarter is spent in preparation for the current year's event. The fourth quarter is the event itself.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is now "The Busy Season".
The stress affects people in different ways. Some people leave the company, others drink, and others cower under their desks in a fetal position until it's all over.
There will be casualties in this fierce office warfare. But there will also be heroes.
A perseverant few will remain to fight on the front lines. They will brave the savage domestic battles for meeting rooms, parking spaces, administrative jurisdiction, and coffee. They will assist bewildered customers, beguile stubborn computers, wrestle renegade staplers, and supplicate jammed copiers.
The thrill of victory is theirs! They will make miracles happen!
They will all probably get laid off next year, but that isn't the point ...
The relevant point is -- this will be a schedule change for me. I will still be able to go to my regular meetings, but I might fall asleep through them. "Quiet time" will be non-existent. I will eat, sleep, and breathe "work" until next year.
In some ways, I welcome this change. In other ways, I dread it.
Either way, I am where I am for a reason ... and that's a good thing.
Thursday, October 04, 2007
I was finally able to make it back in to work yesterday & today. The cold I had last weekend turned into a sinus infection, which is disgusting and miserable, but not contagious. It was nice to be back at work.
They had a celebration at work today, and we were all supposed to report to the lobby at a certain time. I left my desk at the last minute and went to the lobby.
Suddenly, I was surrounded by hundreds of glasses of champagne. They filled half a dozen tables. People were passing the glasses around for a toast.
I felt alot of pressure to take a glass like everyone else. To everyone else, the champagne was as harmless as water. I looked into those bubbly glasses and thought about how nice it would be to take one. Surely one little glass wouldn't hurt.
But I didn't take a glass. My thinking made me nervous, so I slipped out the door and went back to my desk without anyone seeing me leave.
I felt ashamed that I was unable to stay. But the whole situation caught me off guard. I wasn't expecting to be surrounded by hundreds of glasses of alcohol, especially at a work function. Maybe if I had known about it beforehand, I would have done better.
Anyway, I'm grateful to be sober today, and to be alive. An acquaintance of mine (who was a very close friend of my boyfriend's brother) was shot and killed today. A disgruntled employee came into the workplace and shot several employees. Two lives were ended, countless lives were changed forever. Just like that.
It helps to put things into perspective ... all of my loved ones are alive and well today. Tomorrow is not guaranteed.
Today, I am grateful ...
- to be 546 days sober
- that all of my loved ones are alive and well
- that the police caught the murderer
- that I was able to work yesterday and today
- that I have a job, and people look to me for help
- for video games ... an old favorite of mine kept me well-entertained during my sick days away from work
- for the medicine the doctor prescribed for my sinus infection ... it seems to be working
- that I was able to pay off my car (no more car payment!)
- that God's plans are better than mine
Monday, October 01, 2007
"Problems cannot be solved by the same level of consciousness that created them."
" ... unless this person can experience an entire psychic change there is very little hope of his recovery ... once a psychic change has occurred, the very same person who seemed doomed, who had so many problems he despaired of ever solving them, suddenly finds himself easily able to control his desire for alcohol, the only effort necessary being that required to follow a few simple rules."
I'm afraid of change, but I need to change.
Sunday, September 30, 2007
Every time a door closes, another one opens.
A door closed for me, and I don't like what's behind the newly-opened door. I knew beforehand that this was going to happen, and I thought I could handle it. But now that it has actually taken place, I can't handle it. I absolutely hate the way things changed. I hate it, I hate it, I hate it.
Because I can't control anything but my own actions, I have to decide what to do next.
I'm torn between two extremes:
- mourn the loss excessively, as if my entire life is ruined forever; or
- cut my losses and decide that what I lost was stupid and never mattered anyway.
Neither extreme is really truthful. My life isn't "ruined forever", although it feels that way. And what I lost wasn't "stupid" -- it did matter, and it still matters, otherwise I wouldn't feel hurt.
There's an honest middle-ground somewhere. I've never been one for finding it. It's easier just to give up and take an extreme than to fight for balance over that complicated middle ground.
I'd love to go to a meeting, but I'm sick with some sort of cold/flu/plague thing that was graciously shared with me by a coworker last week. Being physically sick doesn't make this any easier.
In the end, it's all about acceptance and honesty. It's not about how I see it or how I want it to be, it's about how it is ... and I don't like it.
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can; and
Wisdom to know the difference;
Living one day at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He would make all things right if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him forever in the next.
Saturday, September 29, 2007
I'm so sick this weekend, I need one of these hats:
And I have a resentment.
I caught some sort of cold/flu/plague thing from a coworker. Many people consider it rude to come to work when you're sick. But not where I work!
Because our cheap company does not provide adequate sick time, sick employees are always crawling into work sneezing and coughing all over the place. It's not an office -- it's a germ factory.
This pisses me off.
Sure, my coworker could have taken a sick day. But she would have to work ten 40-hour weeks to earn another sick day. 400 hours for one 8-hour sick day! What a ridiculous policy! I can't fault her for coming to work sick.
All of the employees are reluctant to use their sick time. They want to save it for a real emergency (such as hospitalization).
In my hiney whiney crybaby little opinion, companies providing lousy/nonexistent sick time policies should at least provide the following:
(1) Spray cans of disinfectant:
(2) Hand sanitizer:
(3) SARS masks:
(4) Biohazard suits:
Okay, so the biohazard suit may be a bit overboard.
At least the SARS masks are moderately fashionable. The style would catch on in no time. I guess I could start a fashion trend at work and start wearing one myself.
Overall, I'm just feeling disappointed. I missed out on alot of special things this weekend, and I'm frustrated.
My homegroup had a special "eating meeting" and speaker, I really wanted to go. My boyfriend moved away today, and I didn't even get to say goodbye. I had to use half a sick day on Friday -- it will take 5 weeks to earn it back.
Geez I feel like throwing a tantrum. It sucks to be sick. It sucks even more when it stops me from doing what I want to do.
Sunday, September 23, 2007
This weekend, I went on my first-ever camping trip. I went with my boyfriend and several friends from his clean & sober motorcycle club. It's very fun to ride with a group of people -- especially people who are also sober and in the program.
The ride was terrific. When you turn your back on today's worries, say a prayer with the group, mount the motorcycle, enter the wind, watch the countryside pass by, see the sights, smell the smells, feel the heat and cold, bear the stinging rain -- you have an experience unrivaled by anything else.
We wear earplugs to drown out the loud engines. And when you can't hear anything or talk to anybody for long stretches of time -- you're forced to navigate your own thoughts. I used to be afraid of that, but now I look forward to these opportunities of quiet introspection, as they are also opportunities to pray and let go.
When I let go, problems and difficulties don't seem so powerful anymore. Yesterday doesn't matter, and tomorrow doesn't matter. It's all about living in the moment and enjoying the moment. And on a motorcycle in a beautiful country on a beautiful day, there's alot to enjoy in the present moment.
Well, not only was the ride beautiful, but so was the campground. There was a rocky stream at the bottom of the hill. I enjoyed the watching the water flow through the rocks. The constant whisper of the water could be heard through the whole camp. It was absolutely beautiful.
Before bedtime, we built a fire and had an AA meeting. The topic was resentment.
The Big Book says on p. 66:
"It is plain that a life which includes deep resentment leads only to futility and unhappiness. To the precise extent that we permit these, do we squander the hours that might have been worth while. But with the alcoholic, whose hope is the maintenance and growth of a spiritual experience, this business of resentment is infinitely grave. We found that it is fatal. For when harboring such feeling we shut ourselves off from the sunlight of the Spirit. The insanity of alcohol returns and we drink again. And with us, to drink is to die.
If we were to live, we had to be free of anger. The grouch and the brainstorm were not for us. They may be the dubious luxury of normal men, but for alcoholics these things are poison."
In our meeting, we wrote down our resentments on paper, shared them with the group, then symbolically turned them over to God by tossing the paper into the fire. We ended our "share" by expressing gratitude.
And I have alot to be grateful for.
Overall, this whole trip was a very meaningful experience. For me, it really meant alot to be included in something like this. After all, I'm not a member of this motorcycle club. I'm just somebody's girlfriend. But they didn't just tolerate me, they welcomed me ... and it means alot to be accepted like that.
Today, I'm especially grateful ...
- for being 535 days sober
- having a safe trip
- going camping for the first time (it was fun!)
- having some quality time at the stream to watch, listen, and pray
- being welcome
- for the wonderful guy in my life who invited me in
- for my family and my job
- God, because I don't need to understand Him, since He understands me
And now, I will leave you with the stream I loved to watch at the campground. I could sit there for hours:
Monday, September 17, 2007
I was sitting through heavy rush hour traffic this morning on my way to work.
As usual, the slowpoke lolling drivers in front of me were all idiots, and the impatient tailgating drivers behind me were all maniacs.
Looking at the clock, I became fearful that I would be late to work. So I sat there and stewed. I HATE being late.
Toward the end of my drive, I looked out my window and noticed something I had forgotten.
The last time I said "goodbye" to my boyfriend, he kissed my window three times, leaving three "kissprints" on my window. I hadn't noticed them all morning until that moment.
Suddenly it didn't matter whether I was going to be a few minutes late to work. The idiots in front of me and the maniacs behind me could drive as they willed, and I didn't care.
Those kissprints didn't suddenly appear -- they were there for the whole drive. I looked straight through them without noticing them. But still they were there. How many other little blessings to I miss every day because I'm preoccupied with something else?
I sometimes tend to get bent out of shape over things I can't have or can't control, it was nice to be reminded this morning that there are reasons to smile -- all around me. They may be easy to overlook, but they are there.
Today, I'm grateful ...
- to be 529 days sober
- for my friends, loved ones, and family
- for the three kisses left on my car window
- for the unnoticed blessings yet to be discovered
- for the people at the meeting tonight, discussing the 9th step
- for the honesty of the people at these meetings
- for the ladies in AA
- to step outside and shiver from the cool breeze (it's been so HOT lately)
- to have enough
- to be sleepy at bedtime
- that God's ideas are bigger than mine
Sunday, September 16, 2007
Today, I am grateful ...
- to be 528 days sober
- for my family, loved ones, and friends
- cooler weather
- for a motorcycle ride on a beautiful day
- to see two friends get married
- for Italian food!
- for going out of town to see my boyfriend's new house
- to love and to be loved
- to once again learn that just because a situation may seem too difficult to handle, I can get through it without the world ending
- to God for His timing, because everything happens for an ultimately good reason, and WHEN it happens is also for an ultimately good reason. Of course it all seems wrong and impossible up front, but timing can be more easily appreciated in retrospect ...
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
"But it is from our twisted relations with family, friends, and society at large that many of us have suffered the most. We have been especially stupid and stubborn about them. The primary fact that we fail to recognize is our total inability to form a true partnership with another human being. Our egomania digs two disastrous pitfalls. Either we insist upon dominating the people we know, or we depend upon them far too much. If we lean too heavily on people, they will sooner or later fail us, for they are human, too, and cannot possibly meet our incessant demands. In this way our insecurity grows and festers. When we habitually try to manipulate others to our own willful desires, they revolt, and resist us heavily. Then we develop hurt feelings, a sense of persecution, and a desire to retaliate. As we redouble our efforts at control, and continue to fail, our suffering becomes acute and constant. We have not once sought to be one in a family, to be a friend among friends, to be a worker among workers, to be a useful member of society, Always we tried to struggle to the top of the heap, or to hide underneath it. This self-centered behavior blocked a partnership relation with any one of those about us. Of true brotherhood we had small comprehension."
I thought I had this part worked out, but lately I'm finding myself either trying to be the fly on the wall or be the center of attention. (Sometimes I want to be both simultaneously, if that makes any sense ...)
When my expectations aren't met, I want to run away and revel in self-pity. I have ideas about how I think people should behave. When they don't behave that way, it throws me off. And when I get thrown off, I obsess over it until I'm too tired to obsess anymore.
Right now I feel cranky, tired, and stressed. And tired.
Sunday, September 09, 2007
Well it's been a LONG few weeks. But things are going well.
Right now, my life consists of two main time periods: Weekends and Workweeks.
Two weekends ago, I flew halfway across the country for my grandmother's funeral. Her service was beautiful. I'm very grateful that I got to go. It was nice to see my extended family (cousins, aunts, uncles) again. I had not seen some of them since I was a little kid.
Last weekend, I got to ride out of town with my boyfriend on his Harley to see his family. It was my first 1,000-mile ride on the bike. I loved it! I also went to my first "out of town" AA meeting. That was cool.
This weekend, we rode with some motorcycle club friends. There's just something unexplainably fun about tearing down the road in a pack of roaring Harleys. It is also my sister's birthday -- she is very happy and had a good time today.
But as for the workweek, well, they're torture. Work has become increasingly stressful. I'm grateful to have a job, but sometimes it feels more like the job has me. Unfortunately, I have done so well that they keep adding to my responsibilities. But it's better than job hunting ... anything is better than job hunting.
To make workweeks more unpleasant, my boyfriend got a new job in a city 2 hours away, so I only get to see him on the weekends. He's been commuting through the week. But he's getting ready to move away ... I'm trying not to feel sad about that.
I find myself dreading the future. The Big Book says that as we work through the end of Step 9, "We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it." But I feel that way about the future -- I regret the future and I wish to shut the door on it.
I don't want things to change. They aren't changing for the better for me. It will be better for someone else, but not for me. But it isn't fair to expect every situation to fall into my favor. I guess I should find consolation in knowing that someone I love will benefit from it.
Anyway, it's getting late ... I'm off to bed!
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
She lived halfway across the country, but that didn't matter.
Every Christmas, she sent us grandchildren Christmas cards saying "I love you". She wrapped little gifts by hand and carefully printed our names, tiny trembles in each letter. Although I was just one of many grandchildren -- she always remembered me.
Every birthday, she sent me a birthday card saying "I love you". As a kid, I had to learn the hard cold fact that most people will forget my birthday since it falls between Christmas and New Year. But every year without fail -- she always remembered me.
Sometimes, she would randomly send a postcard or note -- just to say "I love you". Even on ordinary days during the year -- she remembered me.
She did so much for me, but I did so little for her. I didn't call when I should have. I didn't send her cards. I didn't even know when her birthday was.
The last time we talked on the phone, she asked me to come visit her. Remembering my busy work schedule and the amount of time and effort a trip halfway across the country would take, I replied, "I'd love to -- but I'll need to get some time off work ... "
I never made that visit.
She passed away Monday night, with all of her beloved children at her bedside.
I'll be boarding a plane tomorrow morning to make the visit that I wish I had made many months ago.
Although I knew she was in the hospital for the past few weeks, I didn't call or write. Even after I heard she took a turn for the worse, I still didn't call or write. I never took the time or effort to reach out to her.
The one thing I can't get out of my head:
So if you have a friend or family member that you've been putting off calling or visiting -- don't put it off any longer. Take the time and effort. Make that call today, and make that visit today. Let them know you love them ... let them know you remember them. Just let them know.
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
"At some of these we balked. We thought we could find an easier, softer way. But we could not."
Balk. Like a terrified chicken. "BAWK!" (At least, that's how we characterize it in my home group ...)
I balked from going to a new meeting today. I drove for 35 minutes on beautiful country roads to attend this meeting, but I chickened out. I had been looking forward to attending this meeting for a week.
I'm always nervous to go somewhere new. And I'm always subconsciously looking for reasons NOT to go.
The drive was long. My radio sucks. So I drove in silence.
I don't know about anyone else, but whenever I have too much time alone without other things to compete for my attention, I get caught up in my head. I quickly found a million reasons not to go to the meeting.
Little subconscious worries suddenly blew up into huge fears, ranging from the absurd to the legit. My biggest worries concern things that have not happened yet -- things that only have a 0.0000001% chance of happening, but only if hell freezes over first. Regardless of probability, each worry beckons the insatiable question: "Oh no! What am I going to do about THAT???"
Then all of the insecurities that I ordinarily push out of the way popped up into the spotlight. Little things that embarrassed me lately replayed over and over. My self-confidence shriveled away and I felt like a complete and total idiot.
By the end of that 35-minute drive, I was tired, lonely, stressed, and feeling stupid. I didn't want to be alone. But I didn't want to be around other people either.
By the time I finally got to the meeting place, I turned around and went home. It felt like the easier softer way -- at the time.
I felt stupid for driving all the way out there just to turn around. This isn't the first time this has happened ... I'm supposed to learn from past mistakes, right?
Oh well -- it's just another lesson that whenever a decision needs to be made, the easier softer way can sometimes appear to be the most difficult way.
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
"We had to see that when we harbored grudges and planned revenge for such defeats, we were really beating ourselves with the club of anger we had intended to use on others."
Normally, I'm not a person who gives in to anger. I tend to lean more toward the depressive end of the scale. If I get angry, I'm angry with myself.
But the other day, I became angry in response to the actions of another person. I allowed myself to fume and stew, constantly reliving the issue and even predicting future issues with this person. This resulted in being hit with overwhelming waves of rage and hatred -- even about things that haven't happened yet (and may never happen at all).
I knew I needed to let it go, but I wouldn't. In my mind, this person deserved to be hated.
So I fumed. And I stewed. And I hated.
I knew all along that I was wrong, and I knew the answer, but I was not willing to accept it until my anger was exhausted:
"This was our course: We realized that the people who wronged us were perhaps spiritually sick. Though we did not like their symptoms and the way these disturbed us, they, like ourselves, were sick too. We asked God to help us show them the same tolerance, pity, and patience that we would cheerfully grant a sick friend. When a person offended we said to ourselves, 'This is a sick man. How can I be helpful to him? God save me from being angry. Thy will be done.'
"We avoid retaliation or argument. We wouldn't treat sick people that way. If we do, we destroy our chance of being helpful. We cannot be helpful to all people, but at least God will show us how to take a kindly and tolerant view of each and every one."
Now I'm exhausted, wondering why I allowed myself to get so bent out of shape. I knew the answer the whole time, and I only hurt myself in the process.
"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."
I have more work to do ... so much more work.