Clean & Serene

Every time I see that phrase, it strikes me as kind of ironic. I mean, of course I’m “Clean”. My life has been built around staying that way for many years. But “Serene”? Um, well…

One of the Promises goes like this: “…we will comprehend the word serenity…” In my early sobriety, I kept a dictionary close by, in order to be sure of what words meant. My comprehension of the word serenity went as far as the definition of Webster’s. I adjusted the promise, for my own truthfulness and entertainment, to “we will know how to spell the word serenity.” THAT promise has come true, for certain. As far as deep-down knowing of serenity, it’s been fleeting at best.

The natural disasters going on all over the world, just this month, are enough to put even the most laid-back person on edge. Just today hurricane Irma wiped a few islands off of the map, and is making her way up the length of Florida. Hurricane Jose looks to be revving up to follow her path. *Note: this post was originally written in 2017*

Ever since we moved from the Gulf Coast back to Indiana, 16 years ago, I’ve been wishing we could go back to Pensacola. Only in the last week or so has not being in Florida been good with me. I’m very grateful that I haven’t forced my self-will on our location, lately. I have to remember to keep God in charge, because the hard lessons of “getting my way” in the past have left deep scars that I don’t want to forget.

I am blessed greatly to work with people every day who are on one end or the other of their Recovery. The Old Timers are deep wells of wisdom, and the ones just making it to day #1, again, all have things to teach me.

Thank God, I am open and willing to learn. Today.

I am in a position to re-examine my views on mental illness, religion, spirituality, relationships, and the human spirit, on the daily, as I carry the message.

That being said, I haven’t felt like I had much to share, here, lately. I know some reading this will know just what I’m talking about.

So, here I am, in the place where writing my thoughts comes most easily…the laundromat. I hope that I can “pay it forward” to the world today, because He has been so good to me.

…and, now, 2+ years after the initial assembling of this post, life has indeed shown up, more harshly than I’d ever dreamed that it would. I know that, even still, I am deeply blessed.

Serene? Not so much.

Contented? As often as I can manage to keep myself grateful, and focus on God’s daily grace and mercy on me.

So, again, the choice is mine. Today I choose gratitude and grace toward my fellow travellers.

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Memorial Day Ramblings

Recovery from addiction is about so much more than just not drinking or using. It’s about making a connection with the ONE Who has all power.

When you still act like a thug, or a whore, or a gangster, player…well, just keep coming back, work the steps, and stick close to your Sponsor. Some people say “everybody’s selling something”. What are you selling?

The “lifestyle” of addiction takes many people to their deaths, may e even more easily because they *THINK* they’re good.

The difference between being “sober” and being “dry” can be subtle, but deadly. I’ve been around long enough to see both. Usually people who *just don’t pick up* will turn to other things to take the place of their drug (or drink) of choice, things like food, sex (or non-stop, revolving relationships), shopping, or something else that’s not as obviously detrimental as what they used to do.

Sobriety is a physical, mental, emotional and spiritual thing. Not necessarily in that order.

There are so many hurting people, every where you turn.

Without the relief I found in drugs and alcohol, albeit temporary, I never would have lived long enough to find the Solution for Living. In order to find a long-term solution for alcoholism/addiction, I had to stop using AND then address the mental illness and Complex-PTSD that I’d acquired along the way. One day at a time.

Sound like a tall order? Maybe. But if it’s your only hope, and you make up your mind to hang around with people (aka “stick with the Winners”) who are DOING IT, then it’s absolutely doable.

This weekend, I’m grateful for the men and women who gave their lives fighting for our freedom.

I’m also thinking about the ones who made it back home and NEED their community to support them. Veterans have an unnecessarily high rate of addiction, and (because it’s what alkie/druggies often do) premature death, whether by overdose, alcohol poisoning, SBC, or something else…avoidable.

IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE THAT WAY.

I aim to continue making a difference. By the grace of God. It’s all I can do.

Thoughts on a Friday evening

Today was a good day.

I went outside this morning, and the sun was shining, birds were singing, and it really FELT like Spring. (Spring and Fall are my favorite seasons, btw)

Then I decided to go to a noon (AA) meeting that I’d not attended before. It was in a remote little place, between towns, in a church I’ve driven past hundreds of times. I had no idea that, at any given time, there was a group of folks saving one another’s lives inside.

When I walked in the chair person was reading from a recent Grapevine, which always encourages me. I had an article published in that publication, many years ago, and so of course I have always been fond of “Our meeting in print”.

The room looked like it could ordinarily be used as a Rec room for the churches’youth group. I spied an Air Hockey table, a jukebox, and a small setting area on one side with comfy coiches and chairs. There was a kitchen on the other side, and the bar area had 4 kind’s of cookies and a coffee maker, along with the usual literature options.

It was as if I’d strolled into a pleasant memory. If you’ve never been to an AA meeting, suffice it to say that by simply walking into the room, no matter what else is going on, or whether or not you feel any kind of way about being there, you are welcome.

Sick and worn out? Welcome.

Stinky and unbathed? Welcome.

In need of psychiatric meds but managing to somehow keep your shit more or less together? Welcome.

Nobody walks into an AA meeting by mistake.

It was nice to see a majority of gray-heads at this particular place. I haven’t been to many meetings of late where many of the attendees had over a year sober, and this cup looked to be running over with sobriety. With the emotional roller coaster I’ve been living in, it felt like a gift from God to slip into a seat at the back of the room, and listen.

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The coffee was hot, and someone had brought some carrot cake, with cream cheese icing. It was almost as if I’d called ahead and put in my order.

I think going to a meeting on any day that I’m not employed is a Good Thing. I left that meeting feeling hopeful and happy. Some one once said that you could think of “G.o.d.” as

Group

Of

Drunks.

I know that whenever I’m in a group of people working on a spiritual solution for the problem of alcoholism  (or addiction, thank you), my God meets me there.

I’m a greatful recovering alkie/druggie, today, and my name is Abbie.

An Addict Fell in a Hole

pexels-photo-1601495_1553889831615AN ADDICT FELL IN A HOLE and couldn’t get out. A businessman went by and the addict called out for help. The businessman threw him some money and told him to buy himself a ladder. But the addict could not buy a ladder in this hole he was in. A doctor walked by. The addict said, “Help! I can’t get out!” The doctor gave him some drugs and said, “Take this. It will relieve the pain.” The addict said thanks, but when the pills ran out, he was still in the hole. A well-known psychiatrist rode by and heard the addict’s cries for help. He stopped and asked, ” How did you get there? Were you born there? Did your parents put you there? Tell me about yourself, it will alleviate your sense of loneliness.” So the addict talked with him for an hour, then the psychiatrist had to leave, but he said he’d be back next week. The addict thanked him, but he was still in the hole. A priest came by. The addict called for help. The priest gave him a Bible and said, “I’ll say a prayer for you.” He got down on his knees and prayed for the addict, then he left. The addict was very grateful, he read the Bible, but he was still stuck in the hole. A recovering addict happened to be passing by. The addict cried out, “Hey, help me. I’m stuck in this hole!” Right away the recovering addict jumped down in the hole with him. The addict said, “What are you doing? Now we’re both stuck here!!” But the recovering addict said, “Calm down. It’s okay. I’ve been here before. I know how to get out.” -Author Unknown

The moral of the story is that the best person to help someone struggling with a cunning, baffling and powerful ailment like addiction is someone who’s been there and recovered.

On anger and (lack of) acceptance, and of course, grief.

I worked today. It wasn’t unbearable. I have made a couple of friends there who help me to stay in the present, and find things to laugh about.

I have a co-worker whom I worked with briefly pre-the event, and then after, for a short time. I recently returned to that jobsite and she asked me how I’m doing with my son’s death and all…

…my honest answer is “I’m staying busy.”

What that means, is:

I do everything in my power to think about ANYTHING except for the fact that my baby is gone. I struggle every single day to keep my mind in between the lines, knowing that any drifting toward the curb will surely result in careening over the guard rail into the valley of sadness and regret. Although I don’t feel a desire to do anything, I am compelled to…keep swimming.

There was a self-help book that came out, probably in the 80’s, and the title of it was “I’m dancing as fast as I can.” Lately it’s more like I’m sitting in a rocking chair, rocking as fast as I can, but the effect is probably about the same.

Added to the grief of my son’s death is the fact that I find other things in my life, things that may ordinarily be moderately annoying, to be ENTIRELY UNACCEPTABLE. That’s where I have to do some footwork. I know enough about grief to realise that my irritability could be grief, slipping out sideways. And for that, I am, as they say, responsible.

I was in a class recently with someone who just frankly chapped my ass. This person was (just my opinion) overly self-centered, obnoxiously attention-seeking, and, well, maybe narcissistic. As evidenced by the looks on the faces of others in attendance, it wasn’t just me who was finding this person’s behavior a challenge to tolerate. For all outward appearances, this person was in attendance for purely selfish reasons, which was ironic especially when the whole point of the class was learning how to better SERVE OTHERS.

So, I got to thinking (in between perceived offensive behaviors), working on a mini-4th Step: what is it about ME, that this behavior is having such an effect on my serenity?

I learned from the Old timers in AA, many years ago, that if a person is getting on my nerves, it may be that there’s something of ME that I see in them. 🤔 Hmm.

Or maybe it’s a trait that I used to have, evident in all its ugliness, when seen in someone else…🤔

A few days later, I was talking about this situation with a friend. I had no sooner gotten out of my mouth how much I felt like punching this person, and realising that I was giving them ENTIRELY too much free space in my head, when my friend said “It sound’s like (they’re) really hurting.”

It stopped me right in my tracks. Mid-rant, to be honest.

Hurting.

I know something about that.

In fact, just a short period before this ass-chapping situation began, I had, myself, opened my mouth and said something for which I was compelled to apologise, the next day.  (Yes, it took that long for me to hear my conscience, loud and clear. Don’t you judge me!) I apologised to person #1 for a shitty statement I’d made about person #2, because apparently I felt uncomfortable in strange surroundings and wanted to be sure that #1 would want to be MY friend rather than #2. Such an immature and hurtful thing I did. My only reason/excuse is that I’m hurting and sometimes it comes out of my mouth in the form of me being an asshole.

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So, I can see, today, from this vantage point, that perhaps the person chapping my ass was, in fact, myself. After all, aren’t I the one who decides how I frame my life experiences? Don’t I  choose whether I become angry or not?

Yeah. I’m still a doo-doohead at times.

Which leaves me here, tonight.

Let me preface this by saying:

I am not depressed. Also, I am not suicidal. At all.

But I was thinking earlier about the shift in my thinking, a.d.

I had been pursuing becoming an entrepreneur, a lifelong dream. I was learning how to think like a successful business person, just absorbing all those “positive” and “motivational” phrases and quotes. Things like

“My best days are before me!”

But, now, guess what. I don’t believe that. I can not believe that there are better days ahead than what are behind.

For too many reasons to mention, it’s just not something, barring MIRACULOUS moves of God, that I’m willing to accept. Mind you, I do believe in miracles and God has shown up and shown off plenty of times…but my feelings tell me that the best days of my life are gone.

This has NOTHING to do with the incredibly strong supportive folks around me. Please don’t twist this into being about them. It’s just how I feel. It will pass.

And don’t get me started on the Mom-remorse for not knowing how to (adequately?) help my younger son through this nightmare.

………………………………………………………..

This is why I hesitate to write. I don’t have much to say that’s not wrapped up in shades of grief and mourning. If you see me on the street or in a store, you won’t know that these thoughts are my constant companions. I do my best to not thrust my heaviness of heart onto unsuspecting others.

But 3 days from now would have been Benjamin’s 26th birthday. 3 months and 2 weeks since he left us.

I suppose maybe someone will glean something helpful from this. Its really the only purpose for sharing these thoughts.

Thank you, if you’ve read this far. I am so very grateful for the kind and generous, emotionally available people in my life. If I can ask a simple favor, it is that you keep my family, Benjamin’s wife & friends in your prayers. 20160217_220356.jpg

 

 

 

What’s so happy about Valentine’s Day?

I have experienced many holidays as a single person (or worse-wishing I was single), with the accompanying loneliness that seems to be magnified by each “special” day. 

Here in the States, practically every holiday has become another way for the cards & gift businesses to get rich. God forbid you don’t decorate your trees & bushes with orange and green lights for Halloween, and giant blow-up rabbits for Easter! It goes without saying that any day that’s deemed a holiday on the American calendar, you will be expected to buy cards and gifts. 

And when you’re a single person, all this gift-giving can feel like a big foam finger singling you out: “LOOK! It’s a table for ONE!!” (Gasps) “Wonder what’s wrong with her? Nobody is eating with her!” …Followed by the pitying shaking of their heads and “tsk, tsk, tsk.” At least that’s how I felt. 

Of course in my mind the world was pointing and whispering because DUH it was all about me. I was always concerned about what “they” would think of me, and guess what? They weren’t thinking about me, at all! Most people seem to be too worried about keeping up appearances to realize that they’re just NOT THAT IMPORTANT to the passers-by on the street. 

Anyway. I wanted to write a post to say something about being unattached, or single on Valentine’s Day. I know it was horribly lonely for me before I began my journey into sobriety. I honestly didn’t know how to behave unless I had a Significant Other. 

Once I got clean & sober, I was focused on my baby and exhausted, so I didn’t notice the loneliness as much. 

The folks in the rooms talked about being lonely, and sometimes it was a sincere conversation, whereas other times it came from a Newbie who had a tale of woe, full of stories how she didn’t understand him, or she did him wrong; (you know, the stuff pretty much any old time country song was made of)…He (or she) would look around the room then down at the floor and say “I’m just so lonely!” Then he would look up slightly to see which of the women were taking the bait… Yeah, I’m not interested in that brand of loneliness, for this post. 

I began to feel the deep, empty-heart feelings of loneliness, and it wasn’t like it had  been before. I didn’t really want to have a “relationship” to keep me company, even though a person to become enmeshed with would certainly help to distract me from that hollow place in my gut. 

After working some of the Steps with a Sponsor I began to feel less heavy in my soul. When I completed 4 & 5, it was as if the pool of loneliness had been drained. Strange, huh? 

I talked to my Sponsor and my Higher Power about it, and this is what I realised: I wasn’t lonely because I was alone. I’d felt lonely for all those years because I couldn’t stand my own company! Pre-recovery (and even long after, to a much lesser degree), wherever I went, the radio or TV were on. 

ALWAYS.

 It kept the voices in my head down to a dull roar, for the most part. I’d noticed that about myself and wondered why it was, until I got past those Steps and learned that I’m actually NOT a horrible and worthless person. I began to get some acceptance of who I was and why I’d done those things. It became possible for me to spend time in the quiet. It was even pleasant!

So, for me, the “Universal Loneliness” that I was told plagued all of us alkie/druggies was really a treatable malady. The chemicals were just a symptom, and the solution was in the Steps. 

I hope that you had a great day today, whether there were cards and kisses involved, or whether you just spent a while with yourself.

I am learning to be content, whatever situation I turn out to be in. I know there are many ways to find peace & contentment once the self-induced anesthesia wears off. The Steps are the simple, practical way that has set and IS setting me free. 
Happy February 14th!