Sober since April 6, 2006


Wednesday, August 22, 2007

she remembered me

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:

She always remembered me.

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 ...

From page 58 in the Big Book, in reference to working the 12 Steps:

"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 did not like their symptoms and the way these disturbed us ...

"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."
--Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, p. 47

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."
-- Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 66-67

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."
--Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, p. 88

I have more work to do ... so much more work.