What Happened When I Began to Meditate…I was Miserable

Today, I was in our Sunday 12 & 12 Meeting. It was time to read Step 11. If you have read the 12 & 12 you may be familiar with what the pretty long reading is about.

Step 11

2016-09-11-13-14-45 Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understand Him, praying for the knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

Personally, I don’t split hairs about a Higher Power in General. As many times as I walked around my car wondering how I got home, woke up in my bed, wondering how I got there, it was clear to me that I was not in charge of my own life for a very long time.  As Step 11 and much of AA Literature goes, I am not concerned that people say GOD or HE or HIM.  I am just pretty grateful something somewhere gave two shits about me when I didn’t give one shit about myself.  That’s my  “Keeping it Simple” way of thinking.

Meditation

There are several paragraphs that discuss Meditation.  I would consider myself a regular meditator.  Meditation came along for me about 6 months into AA.  I tried, I couldn’t sit. When I would sit, I would find myself with such negative thoughts, wanting to climb out of my skin- I figured I was just a person that couldn’t do it.

MBSR  (Mindfulness Stress Reduction)

I took a class (MBSR).  I read a book called  Full Catastrophe Living  by Jon-Kabat Zinn. It changed everything.  I learned that it was a struggle for everyone in the room to SIT there and breathe-do nothing.  The feeling in the room was similar to an AA Meeting even though it wasn’t.  People in a room with a common purpose. Each of us came there with our own reason to Meditate, our search for a solution.

The first days and weeks of Mediation are like the first 90 days of sobriety. THEY SUCK. Meditation is a like a mental detox.  Not every day is completely horrible.  But just like going to meetings, calling my Sponsor and working the Steps, it’s work.  And after a while I started to see results.  I feel calmer, I respond rather than react.  I can detach from situations.  I have perspective.  I believe that Meditation enhanced my program so I still do it. It is part of my life today.  My journey to the Happy, Joyous and Free Chapter of my life.

Who knew?

 

 

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No Wonder I Drank to Fit In

The Small Victories in Recovery

A couple days ago, I arrived at a Mountain Retreat nestled in farm country in Vermont. 20160516_054146 I won a contest that I entered back in January.  I would not have known anything about the contest or this place if it hadn’t been for a friend that told me about it.

“God Bless the Freaks”

When I am in an AA Meeting, no matter where that Meeting is, I feel like I belong, right down to my core. Several times when I have been on the road and unable to make a meeting for a couple days when I do, there is a slow inhale and exhale – a reconnection, a “Honey, I am home” feeling. That feeling eluded me for 51 years.  That feeling eluded me again last night.

When I am with creatives, very much like my friend, I feel like we understand each other. Much like my friend, (the normal one who told me about the contest), creatives can be a joy to be around.  There is laughter, there is empathy, they are interesting.  And because we all feel at ease, we open up to one another in a way we don’t feel like we could if we were hanging out in a room full of Engineers.

But there is a difference with that feeling with creatives than it is in a Meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous.  No one is going to die if they don’t go to their Writing Group. The reality of my disease, the honesty and raw nature of what we talk about is completely lost on someone that is a creative writer.  When I share about our disease, they are open to it. Many have had alcoholics in their lives and are grasping to understand.

But what I am understanding is, the intense gratitude I have for finally – FINALLY finding the depth of belonging, the understanding and emotional devotion of AA and my fellow alcoholic.  The necessity of carrying the message to the struggling alcoholic that has not felt the relief and connection I have being with “My Tribe.”

Let’s Pretend

If I was still drinking I would never have been here.  But let’s just say IF I was still alive and I managed to shake, rattle and roll my way through the back roads of paradise with plenty of “supplies” to get here without “the wheels coming off.”

Last night would have been a disaster.  I always thought I was a creative that was my Tribe. I didn’t feel pressure of acceptance in how I dressed, looked and talked in order to fit in. Until I found AA, I thought that was enough.

But Now I Know

The reality of the daily life and death situation that alcoholism deals us, puts us at a level of belonging and understanding a little different than wearing weird shoes or having a tattoo to express ourselves. Certainly that is PART of me too, but the simple fact of living “One Day At A Time” because tomorrow I could be dead based on my choice or whether or not to drink, is quite different.  We don’t have time for flowery language, pretty creative sayings on the wall, there is too much at stake and we know it.

I must have needed to be reminded. I am grateful.

 

 

Some Are Sicker Than Others

Over the past few years, I have been to many meetings.  These meetings are filled with Experience, Strength and Hope.  But I have learned and am reminded again, that the Experience, Strength and Hope part, it is up to me to listen and to allow myself to receive the message.

Manners

In Accordance with the Third Tradition, AA Meetings are to help alcoholics achieve sobriety. “The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking.”  That leaves a lot of leeway in how that happens. Every now and then, I am amazed at the behavior that is exhibited and tolerated in order to support the Alcoholic that still suffers.

Oscar The Grouch

When I first came into the Halls of AA, Oscar would often be at meetings.  When I heard him share, there was no doubt in my mind that Oscar was nothing short of genius material. When I listened to Oscar share, his monotone voice was full of information, facts about the Big Book and other AA Literature, in almost every occasion that he shared, he would end up insulting or chiding another speaker that had spoken earlier in the meeting. Those of us that were listening, clinging to every word like it was a lifeline, would walkaway sometimes thinking, “If this is what being sober means, you can have it!”

Oscar took no prisoners.  What I have come to believe is he is completely incapable of compassion. He says what he says with a sort of cruel eloquence that varies depending on his mood.  If a person with 20 years of sobriety shares and Oscar is in a bad mood, when it is his turn, he spins a web with enough AA Speak, when the claws come out he quietly attacks the person, it can be a little disarming.  If you didn’t know that Oscar lived in an old school bus with hula hoops and mardi gras beads hanging inside and garbage bags and duct tape to block broken windows, you may just think he was an asshole.

Wanderers

In Maine, we call them snowbirds.  Before the snow flies, people pack up their cars or in some cases a backpack and head for warmer weather. This includes the homeless, high functioning mentally ill population.  If people feel the need to be outside, (including sleeping outside,) they know that they would freeze to death in Maine in the winter. The solution is to  head South.  I never understood how they got there, no money, no belongings to sell, but they end up on the beaches somehow and return to Maine in the Spring.  Oscar gets here in a dilapidated school bus. His own.

Higher Power

Oscar and his bus are no doubt Higher Powered. He parked it next to me last night.  As I went to my car to leave, I wondered how the thing got here from Louisiana (license plates). It was about 20 minutes after his comments ripped the speaker to ribbons in his quiet way. The quiet way that was not lost to anyone in the rooms but was accepted and not rejected like it would be if it was done in the “normal world.”

I had walked across the parking lot at the Recovery Center thinking, “Jesus that guy is such an asshole, why didn’t Stu or someone with tons of sobriety pull him aside and check his attitude?”  As a female, people like Oscar, unpredictable yet highly functional, are best left to the male population to sort out.  Only no one did.  As I sit here now, I am understanding why.

I need to be reminded that the message comes in all shapes and sizes.  My Higher Power wants me to see people like Oscar and understand.  My Higher Power wants me to love and accept them for the people they are and not the people I would like them to be.  My job isn’t to be offended, it is to be sober and to help other alcoholics achieve sobriety.

Now that Oscar is back for the summer, I have no doubt that he and his bus will be parked at the Homeless Shelter and he will be at our Meetings.  It is my choice to be offended by his message or to try and see the wisdom in it, be amazed at the miracle Oscar is, finding his own path in Recovery and staying on it.

 

Seeing Another Alcoholic Before He Knows…He’s An Alcoholic

Never before have I responded well to people telling me what to do, especially when I knew I needed to do it.  And when an old college friend made amends to me a couple of years ago, before I knew I was an alcoholic, his words and actions spoke louder to me because he was making amends for HIS actions never even beginning to suggest any of my own.

That day, was a turning point for me and even though it took me another year to believe it myself, his loving amend was about him and not finger pointing at me.  He wasn’t someone telling me how to live my life.  It took a hopeless day of sitting on the couch with my stomach burning, body shaking and mind blowing to realize, I too, was an alcoholic.


 

Best Lesson

For me, the best lessons are ones that are not pushed at me or shoved down my throat.  I have learned most things in my life by watching to learn and then living to learn.  So as I approach 10 months (which is very GREEN, very new), I remember this humility gift that my old friend gave to me by just being there.  Because it was him on that very first day that I called when I had no idea what I was thinking, feeling or doing.  I sat in my car crying and blubbering over the phone to the very man that planted the seed by his own honesty that ANYONE could be an alcoholic.  Anyone. EVEN me.

Old Friends

Because of Facebook, I have made many more connections with old friends as well as new ones.  I am pretty sure I have mentioned this in this blog before, many renewed relationships that were long before I had any problems with alcohol.  In one case, after being reconnected, I made a simple acknowledgement of appreciation to the person for his support during a rough patch I went through back in high school. There were no amends needed but this program is teaching the importance of Gratitude and I am making it a conscious effort to express it more often.  Once I thanked him, we started talking on the phone and staying more closely in touch on Facebook.  We exchange what we are doing on any given day, how our jobs were going, what was happening around the household, we were being pretty frank.  We always were with each other all those many years ago, we just picked up from where we had left off.

The Lunch Whistle

The more he shared with me, the more I realized my old friend needs “the program.”  On many fronts, when he shares things with me, I hear them as if they were coming out of my mouth.  The Lunch Whistle sounded, “He is an alcoholic still doing research.” I can hear the sadness, the fear and the anger building. This is not the same sound of my high school friend, this is my old friend traveling down a similar road I have, only he doesn’t seem to know it.  Bloody Mary’s and Scotches included.

The Now

I started to share with him what my day is like in more positive ways. I mention meditation, I mention going to the pool, I mention feeling a lot better since I stopped drinking.  I don’t mention AA.  (Don’t yell at me, please.)  I stopped short of mentioning AA because it was almost like “something” told me I shouldn’t.  That my old friend needed a friend so that he was not alone.  It is very obvious to me that he is isolating himself and these emails or texts of affirmations from 800 miles away (me) are causing him to pause and ask questions about where he is in his life, I know this because he has told me.

If You Want What We Have…

I have been praying for guidance about this because I cannot “unring the bell.”  Once I tell my AA story I cannot take it back.  I am turning it over daily and still don’t feel as though the time is right.  We will see and stay tuned.  Thanks for listening as I navigate yet another new experience. Trying to put into practice what worked for me and what may have saved my life.

I May Be a Slacker…but I am not drinking

Here I thought I was going to be writing more and yet I have been blogging for others and working pretty hard.  I also have been doing step work and working on myself.  Sorry I have been gone for a while.  I do hope you missed me!

Anniversary

No not mine, I am just over 9 months sober and grateful for every day. I have a list to prove it.  Still doing the “Gratitude List.”  So practically every night since Thanksgiving Day,  I write 3 – 5 things down in a notebook.  It does seem to slow the spin of self doubt and does make me think a bit differently.  My friend (we will call her Jane), celebrated 1 year today at our Shelter Meeting.  It was great for her, lots of tears and her Mom and sister were there.  Since I am involved with the Group Conscience with this meeting, I did some of the work, made arrangements for things to happen,  she asked that there not be a “big deal made” she doesn’t like to be the “center of attention.”   All I can say is, “I tried.” She got the traditional, cake and card.

Upon my arrival at the Shelter, the normal set up person was not there.  And because of some renovations at the Shelter, things were all over the place, it was a full moon last night and St. Patrick’s Day, today.  If you don’t believe in any karma surrounded by a full moon, you check out a homeless shelter during the cycle for a few months.  It is amazing the upset that happens.  New Moons are similar.  So along with setting up for Jane’s anniversary the meeting needed to be set up too.  We all scurried around, asked Jane’s sponsor to chair the meeting to which she declined in quite a bitchy fashion and pushed her Sponsee – Jane (the celebrant), to Chair.  Because in her words, “That is what sponsors do.”  Um, no thanks.

Great Way to Start the Day

Without recounting every last detail, we got the meeting going, Jane Chaired and our normal setup person appeared and did he ever look terrible!  Bloated, red face, glassy eyed.  He came to me and said, “I went back out and I feel so shitty.”  All I could do was hug him and tell him how happy I was to see him and that I was so glad he came back.  He told on himself in the meeting and got support and love from everyone.  Oh sure the usual “Preacher” preached but most everyone else offered love and compassion.  We all were reminded how fragile our sobriety is.  He could have been any one of us on any day.

Cupcakes

As we did “Round Robin” around the room, Jane got her wish as not being the center of attention, there was some Congratulations mentioned but mostly we unintentionally focused on the wounded.  We ate cupcakes and presented a Certificate and Chips.  One “White” Chip and a “One Year” Chip. And so it goes/

Ever Wonder Why???

It wasn’t long ago that a man named Andy Rooney opened up his segment on :60 with “Ever Wonder Why?”  Kinda sounds like a child, ever wondering about this thing or that thing.  Ever wonder why people with alcoholism are and need to be “anonymous?”

This is just MY OPINION

I have read the Big Book, Living Sober and a host of other – AA publications.  And I must confess I have read many recovery publications that are not AA publications or approved, whatever.  Since I started my recovery more than 4 months ago, my reading habits have changed dramatically – along with a few hundred other things…

Cancer

When people get cancer or some other life threatening/altering illness there are walks to raise money, swim a thons, bike races and all kinds of benefits for research and support.  Ever wonder why they don’t have the same compassion for alcoholics?  We got a disease too and we need help too but we have to be anonymous.  Diseases suck.  Diseases are bad and when these diseases attack your mental state and you drink, drug or otherwise just addicted to whatever, nobody wants it out of the closet.  Hell I know I want it in the closet – along with the REST of my skeletons.  I didn’t and still don’t want 99.99999% of the world to know I am an alcoholic.  So the only thing we can count on is ourselves and our own network.

The People that “Get it”

Obviously those of us “with it” know that each case and vicitm is different.  Some alcoholics constantly relapse.  When someone in cancer treatment doesn’t respond well to a certain treatment or has a recurrence, everyone rallies around them and makes sure they have support.  When “one of us” has a recurrence or relapse, people roll their eyes, shake their heads and unless they are an alcoholic or are very close to one, they have no idea that we cannot help it either.  When we relapse to alcoholism it is just like cancer.  The disease (or addiction) is living in your head and just fights back and sometimes the alcoholic can win the battle and sometimes they cannot.  And all too many times the disease wins the war and  kills one of us, just like cancer.

How About Your “Bucket List” ?

When was the last time a non-alcoholic asked an alcoholic “Is that on your bucket list” in relation to a successful daily fight against alcoholism?  My bet is never.  But when a cancer survivor has success this is often a question asked, it is perfectly acceptable and the lists are just as different as the survivor that has made it.

Dumping on Cancer Victims

I am not dumping on cancer victims.  Cancer Sucks. Alzheimer’s Sucks, ALS Sucks, the list goes on. Alcoholism sucks too.  And I am remembering that my AA family understands me, gets me, loves me as I love them.  Because even though there is a stigma outside the AA Walls, there is not a stigma inside them.  We are all fighting together and we are on our own team.  I am not alone and I never will be as long as I let AA live within me.

 

Wolf Pack

Dominancy and superiority is everywhere.  There is always some “tipping point” where some people are trying to jockey for the top of the heap or “King of the Hill.”

Mother Nature

Being a person that has raised dogs and been around nature all of my life, I watch how animals act. How they act when they are alone, how they act when they are with others their own kind.  It never seems to fail that “somebody” is looking to be “in charge” or “bigger than”  “better than” “smarter than” the rest.  In the animal kingdom there are no doubts how the dominate one is determined.   In some cases this process ends up with the weaker one being killed.  It is much more complicated with humans and far less honest.

My Own Singleness of Purpose

I don’t want to drink today.  That is my one goal.  If I can do that, then I have been successful.  Everything else I may accomplish today is icing on the sobriety cake. As I am still very new in the program, I am starting to see new things at meetings I never noticed before.  Some of these things I don’t like.  I tend to shrug it off because I am not at meetings to concern myself with other people’s politics or their showboating.

We Are All “Bozos On the Bus”

I have heard this term used before.  It means we all are the same.  We are all working to be “One Day At A Time” successful.  Perhaps this is my way as a newcomer feel equal to someone with long term sobriety?  I do believe that we are all equal.  Recently, we have heard, there has been a string of people with long term sobriety, 15 years or more that “went back out.”  So this is a serious reminder that I have to be diligent.  NO. MATTER. WHAT.  Always remain teachable. Always be thankful for the treasure of sobriety. Never think that I am  better than anyone else in the room.  For I am just a “Bozo on the bus.”

Old Timers

These folks are great resources, great people, great friends.  But some have let that “old timer” label go to their head.  “We are not saints.”  Nope, not even someone with 35 years sobriety, that person knows only what works for them and can provide experience, strength and hope just like I can, from their own point of view.  When there are a couple in the room at the same time, sometimes it happens that there is a “holier than thou” attitude, lots of feathers ruffling, etc.  But that cannot matter to me.  I am focusing on my single goal of sobriety, not getting lost in other people’s drama and working on being the best person I can be-one day at a time.