Friday, September 18, 2009

My Sister, Who's a Sister, But I Don't Call Her Sister

This is Sister Maurice (on the right) not with her sister but with her dear friend Sister Rose (who is not her sister but is a Sister). Got That? They've been friends for 50 years...amazing. The retreat at the Wilson House was very nice. Met some nice people. I loved Sister Maurice..she knows what she's talking about, she's clear, down to earth, she's very funny, she's kind, old school and reminds me of my grandmother but with a sense of humor. What evoked the most emotional response from me was her discussion on self worth and self esteem. Self esteem is our perception of self worth. Self worth never is given to us. We are a child of the universe, no less than the moon and the stars. I think this weekend revealed to me that I do not value my self worth. I have never in my life thought of myself as having low self esteem but since her discussion brought up a lot of emotion for me I think I need to look at that. I think perhaps I have been confusing humility with self esteem. Most of the time I honestly just don't think I'm worth it. But that's not being humble that's devaluing my self worth. The only way for me to reflect my self worth and improve my self esteem, I must continue to work on my relationship with my Higher Power. So as long as I'm working my Step 11 on a daily basis, I should be okay.

The other big takeaway for me was her note that peace at any price is not love and that we must break the silence. Silence signifies acceptance. That will be a tough one but she gave us some concrete tools to break the silence and to handle what's "pitched" at us. I haven't tried it yet but I have passed it on. I also really enjoyed hearing Sister Rose's story as a member of Al-Anon. Other than the few al anon blogs I read here, this was the first time I heard someone's story (who is not an alcoholic) and it gave me a much needed perspective on how my husband must have felt and maybe still feels. It'd be cool if he wanted or was willing to check out AlAnon but I don't see that happening in the near future but it certainly helped me. And it is all about me.

This weekend I go on another retreat of sorts. Camping with the girls. We'll go up north to a really nice lake and state campground. Kayak and Cook...really looking forward to it. It's supposed to be sunny and nice...the last hurrah of the summer. My friends are not alcoholic but they've been very supportive in my journey and though I'm sure they'll be drinkiing wine I'm sure they won't be drinking as much as I was when I was active.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Great Joy

I am getting used to my empty nest. Truth be told I like it. But what I also really enjoy is hearing the neighborhood children play. My husband and I are surrounded by young families with lots of children. They play most frequently in my neighbor's yard. Our yards abutt each other, there are no fences or separation and we long ago told them not to worry about their young children being mindful of boundries. Our yard's just sitting there not getting much use...ball playing days are the children frequently use our yard as second base, etc. To the point when my nephew was visiting and my son took him out to toss the ball, little Rosie asked my son to please go away, what was he doing in her yard. He explained that it was his yard..but we're not sure if she understood.

We have a huge, wild forsythia in the back..very overgrown...just enough so that the neighborhood boys have built a secret hideaway fort. I fondly remember playing in the woods across the street when we were growing forsythia is as close to the woods as these kids are going to get. But nothing gives me greater joy that to overhear those boys plot and plan while I sit reading on my deck. Then to hear them called for gives me hope. Some things never change.

Friday, September 11, 2009

This is where I'll be this weekend. Another retreat at the Wilson House in Vermont. This time hosted by Sister Maurice. I've heard wonderful things about her so I'm looking forward to strengthening my spiritual practice. One thing I know is that I have no mental defense against the first drink. My defense is spiritual in nature and the more conscious contact I practice the better my chances are of staying sober.

I am going with my friend that I wrote about yesterday. I appreciate all of your comments. It helped to firm my resolve of what the right thing to do or not do was. This trip was not meant to be...but my husband and I will enjoy a different trip in the spring. And as far as the money goes, its out of my hands. If I get it back I will be very grateful but if I don't I will chalk it up to experience and a lesson learned. I could never accept the money from my friend. And just to clarify, she didn't lure me into this trip under false pretenses. She was where she was and I knew where she was. So I went into this with full knowledge and understanding. My post yesterday was more about where I sometimes go in my head and how grateful I am that I don't have to stay there anymore. I'll let y'all know if and when the money comes back. I did receive an email that he was "almost positive" they'd found replacements for us. It's the "almost" that gets me. Keeps me in limbo which is where I was yesterday. Today I am not in limbo.

Lastly, I leave you with my favorite image from 9/11/01. It symbolizes the devastation of that day as well as the hope. The incredible loss of innocent victims. The bravery and service of our firefighters, the passengers of Flight 93, and our country as a whole. To quote Charles Dickens..It was the best of times, It was the worst of times.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Taking a Trip, Not Taking a Trip

So I've got this dilemma. And I just now looked at my part in it and I feel much better. A friend was planning to join her boyfriend on a trip to Ireland/London in October. She had concerns because the theme of the trip was pub hopping. In our conversation about the trip, I said wouldn't it be fun if my husband and I went. She and I could veer off the pub parts of the trip to do meetings/siteseeing and my husband would have enjoyed having a friend to explore pubs with. Not to mention finally getting overseas and seeing the world. I loved how the trip was planned and I didn't have to do anything but pay my money and pack my suitcase. Easy. Well, not so easy after all. My friend and her partner broke up after 10 years. It had been coming on her part for a long time and she finally was able to make the decision. That's what sobriety will do to you not to mention meeting someone else. Make you stronger.

So now the allure of the trip is tainted. We don't know anyone else going except for the jilted lover. She's definately not going. He's devastated and we don't really know him either. Going now would be very uncomfortable. And my husband was never fully on board in the first place. He has a fear of flying (well not flying exactly but he's claustrophobic). We talked it over and felt that for this kind of money and this kind of trip, we don't want to be uncomfortable and would prefer waiting until the spring when our daughter studies abroad in Germany. We could incorporate a visit with her with our desire to travel. But we've got a $1,200 deposit into this. Supposedly there were people on a waiting list but we still haven't got our money back. I'm a few emails into it...the possilbility of getting it back hasn't been ruled out so I'm hoping and praying. Trying to think positive. I'm trying not to focus on the money but its hard. If we don't get it back a trip in the spring may be impossible. And if we aren't going to get it back should we go anyway? We'd have to come up with even more money to take a trip we don't want to take. Maybe we should just make the best of it.

When my friend first made this decision, she said she'd cover our losses if it came to that. I told her not to let our participation in the trip affect her decision, we'd cross that bridge when we came to it and I meant it. Seemed like the right thing to do. Now that the decision has been made, I want my money back wherever it comes from. I'm an innocent bystander. Collateral damage. Is it fair for me to want my friend to cover this if we don't get our deposit back? It was her decision after all and she encouraged me to do this trip. And now that we're at the bridge there is no mention of it. Well, last night she said she'd sell a kidney to get my money back to me. I don't want that. It's a wait and see moment and its hard to wait. But I'm doing my best to do the right thing.

My part..I acted impulsively. I knew this relationship was on shaky ground but my desire to go on a trip with my friend (and not my husband alone) outweighed the concerns. My excitement at doing something I've wanted to do for awhile combined with the possibility of meeting some online friends totally overrode reason. I steamrolled my husband into taking this trip when he was ambivalent. I knew the relationship was on shaky ground. It's like putting your money into a failing bank. That's what I did. I have to keep my focus on my part and not the part of others. Their motives and behaviors have nothing to do with me. So when the fear crops up, the resentment creeps on the sidelines...she should have, he could...if it were me, I would....I've got to stay where I am. I did and now what.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


I don't know how to write this without sounding, well.... jealous. And I'm not jealous but I do feel uncomfortable. And I've had trouble figuring out why. So jealousy could be the cause but I don't think so. There is a small group of women that I have become friendly with in AA. They are the ones I socialize with, go on retreats, have tea, etc. outside of the rooms. They are all going through enormous is my sponser who ended her 17 yr marriage, the other a close friend who ended her 10 yr relationship, another friend is having all kinds of job, home and relationship changes as well, and one is talking about moving up north where she'll feel more tapped into her community. I only share the major part of their specific issues to exemplify that these are major changes I'm talking about. And while other men are involved in the relationship issues they are not the causes of them. I appreciate that they consider me a friend as well as a fellow AA member that they can talk to through these things. On the other hand, my world has not changed with the exception of the empty nest. I guess maybe the issue is that I can't identify. I have the same marriage, the same home, the same job, the same weight, etc. The only thing that isn't the same is that I am sober.

What I need to keep up front is that they have all been sober much longer than me...I can't have their sobriety and the life choices that come along with that...I can't hurry up, I can't have 20 yrs when I have 2 yrs, I can't change things I'm not ready or even know if they need changing....I can only be where I am. But I guess I feel like I'm being left behind. That's not reality though. That's the twisted thinking in my head. So I'm happy in my calm peaceful way...trying to stay a steady course and leave drama behind. But doing that around giddy romance can be difficult.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

My Baby

Yesterday was my son's 19th birthday. We moved him into his college dorm on Tuesday. I was very thankful that he was willing for us to come back to take him to breakfast for his birthday. Usually we do dinner but it was a good compromise. The last year has been a rough one for me emotionally with him. He has a lot of disdain for me and while I know some of it is developmental and a part of separating, I also know that a lot of it has to do with my alcoholism. I have not made my amends to him yet. In the last few months it became very important to me to make my amends to him before he left. I saw behaviours of his that I hoped the amends would perhaps soften. And at the very least, it would not be hanging over my head, this most important of amends.

I started to prepare, talking it over with my sponser, but there never seemed to be an opportunity. Honestly, he hasn't been around much between his work schedule, soccer schedule and time with his friends. He joked that he was preparing us for when he left. When the time did present itself he was so focused on what he needed to do to get to college, I began to feel that my reasons for making amends to him were more about me than about him. That if I was focused strictly on his needs I would allow him to process leaving home and start this new chapter in his life without the burden of whatever that amends conversation would bring. I know for sure it would bring tears from me as much as I would try not to and this is a young man that does not suffer tears or emotion well. So maybe I chickened out or maybe I have finally become willing to more thoughtfully approach situations that used to baffle me. Not act from my own self-centered needs and wants. My M-O, as many alcoholics, is to want something done NOW. Immediate gratification. Another opportunity will present itself, and it will be the right time. He will be settled into his new life and I will be ready. So I think in the end, in examining my motives, I am fairly certain that I was not acting out of fear (though to be honest it was there), but I was more taking the self (my self) out of the equation and thinking about what was best for my son. That's what mother's do. But that is not to say that I am not going to make my amends at the next opportunity. It will happen and the sooner the better.

Friday, September 4, 2009

I thought I had an Epiphany

So just to carry on from my full moon musings....I had come to the conclusion that even though I felt shaky that ultimately, and I do believe this is true, my life is between me and God. When I experience difficulties, while it may help and be nice to go to a sponser, a trusted friend, a therapist, a meeting, etc., ultimately I must be with God to take the next step. Then...last night we read in Step Five of the 12 x12...
The second difficulty is this: what comes to us alone may be garbled by our own rationalization and wishful thinking. The benefit of talking to another person is that we can get his direct comment and counsel on our situation, and there can be no doubt in our minds what that advice is. Going it alone in spiritual matters is dangerous. How many times have we heard well-intentioned people claim the guidance of God when it was all too plain that they were sorely mistaken. Lacking both practice and humility, they had deluded themselves and were able to justify the most arrant nonsense on the ground that this was what God had told them. It is worth noting that people of very high spiritual development almost always insist on checking with friends or spiritual advisers the guidance they feel they have received from God. Surely, then, a novice ought not lay himself open to the chance of making foolish, perhaps tragic, blunders in this fashion. While the comment or advice of others may be by no means infallible, it is likely to be far more specific than any direct guidance we may receive while we are still so inexperienced in establishing contact with a Power greater than ourselves.
And its true, that's exactly where I was going with it, rationalization, wishful thinking, delusion and arrant nonsense. Epiphany, Shmiphany. You get what you need. It's very true.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Golden Key

According to Emmet Fox, the Golden Key is the means to help solve all kinds of problems and overcome all sorts of handicaps. It is simply this...."Stop thinking about the difficulty, whatever it is, and think about God instead." He says that all that is essential is to have an open mind and sufficient faith. That's where I think I am getting stuck. I've got the open mind...definately..but sufficient faith? I'm not so sure.

I wondered at the full moon last night, after a lengthy "conversation" with my husband in which halfway through I began to practice the Golden Key. God is with me, I kept repeating to myself trying to replace the thoughts and feelings I was having towards him. Not necessarily about the subject at hand, but as a good alcoholic I went way beyond that, more of whether or not I could live the rest of my life with this man. I stopped the thought and replaced it, I did. It helped. But I guess where I wonder about sufficiency is that, for me, part of coming to believe was accepting that I did not understand the "God of my understanding." I could not define my Higher Power, just that It Is. Be Still and Know that I Am. And I feel a certain serenity and peace most of the time with that. But is not understanding and just accepting enough? It feels shaky. I think of Ted Kennedy who had enormous faith, one whose life did not always adhere to the principles of that faith, yet he held on and managed to live a redemptive life that did a lot of good for alot of people. He perservered. He seemed to garner strength and courage from his faith. I don't feel strong and courageous. And I don't feel that my convictions are firm. I accept but I'm not sure I trust. But I'm open. I'll try it.

What I know for sure and what I say to newcomers all the time, is that this is a practice, we hear and see it all the time in the pages of the Big Book...practice these principles... practice implies progress..and progress implies growth. The answers will come if our house is in order. Situations that used to baffle us will suddenly become clear. I was a drunk and now I am not. I practiced what I learned in AA, followed suggestions, and committed to the process of the 12 steps. I am a sober woman...I have to start there.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Invitation

The Invitation
Written by - Oriah Mountain Dreamer

It doesn't interest me what you do for a living.
I want to know what you ache for
and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart's longing.

It doesn't interest me how old you are.
I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool
for love
for your dream
for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn't interest me what planets are squaring your moon...
I want to know if you have touched the centre of your own sorrow
if you have been opened by life's betrayals
or have become shriveled and closed
from fear of further pain.

I want to know if you can sit with pain
mine or your own
without moving to hide it
or fade it
or fix it.

I want to know if you can be with joy
mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness
and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes
without cautioning us to
be careful
be realistic
remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn't interest me if the story you are telling me
is true.
I want to know if you can
disappoint another
to be true to yourself.
If you can bear the accusation of betrayal
and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless
and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see Beauty
even when it is not pretty
every day.
And if you can source your own life
from its presence.

I want to know if you can live with failure
yours and mine
and still stand at the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon,
“ Yes .”

It doesn't interest me
to know where you live or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up
after the night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done
to feed the children.

It doesn't interest me who you know
or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand
in the centre of the fire
with me
and not shrink back.

It doesn't interest me where or what or with whom
you have studied.
I want to know what sustains you
from the inside
when all else falls away.

I want to know if you can be alone
with yourself
and if you truly like the company you keep
in the empty moments

Hard to believe that these are the thoughts expressed at a business university...its encouraging. Just emptied my nest and I am hoping to get back to blogging. I've missed it and I've missed my fellow bloggers. So I am hoping to make a gradual this venue which has been critical to my sobriety. I need it and I have felt something missing in these last days of a hectic summer. But I'm sober, I''m grateful and I'm at peace.