About Me

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Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
"No, really!"

My Favorite Bit of Paper Cup Philosophy

The Way I See It #76

The irony of commitment is that it's deeply liberating - in work, in play, in love. The act frees you from the tyranny of your internal critic, from the fear that likes to dress itself up and parade around as rational hesitation. To commit is to remove your head as the barrier to your life.

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Bear Came Back

Hey, I've been wrestling bear again, with a bit of a twist. This time I brought no bottle to help me either beef up and whup the bear or to help me high-tail it and run out of the woods. With apologies to those who are adept at problem solving, I have not always, nor have I often, been good at making positive decisions on my own when it comes to my problems. Oh, put me in charge of 8,000 school employees about to lose their health benefits in a bad economy and I am the go-to-girl. I advocate nearly to the death for others in trouble, but I don't support myself as well as I represent a stranger. These things belong in the "I'm not worth it" basket. That basket belongs in the long line of character defects I'm (re)discovering as I work my very hard AA Step Four. The basket, however, is being dismantled. It seems to be more gap, more split than basket, more "not there". It seems to sieve the rot a little faster, the torrent washing away. But it won't be completely fixed immediately, if ever.

A change was to occur in my day-to-day living situation. It was beyond my control (thanks, Serenity Prayer, for helping me to figure that out, for this would have been a big order to micromanage). I had no vote. Really, it was only very nominally any of my business except for the way this change would feel to me. I was given 3 weeks notice. On paper, it didn't seem like it might affect me all that much. Two hours into the "new", and I was done. Not having it. My whole world had just changed and I had to "do something". Frequent visitors to this blog know that I am very big on "doing something", often too soon and too ill-conceived to have any positive results. I got annoyed. I got a little too quiet. I got angry. I disappeared into my private quarters and refused to come out. Note: this is the point at which I typically introduce the bottle or some really regrettable behavior to break the tension and ratchet it up a little. But I did it differently this time, if not so prettily.

It can't have been attractive. It was hell for hot and my scalp dripped perspiration. I spread out all the books on the bed. I printed a few worksheets and threw out the cats, to their shock. I lined up phone numbers I might need. Oddly, I ran from both music and TV/movie white noise and just sat in near-silence. And sat. Scribbled and sat. I did not cry. I flipped through the books to the pages I've highlighted so diligently for 7 months. I Googled some things. I used some self-soothing techniques I have learned. It may be interesting to know that in one particular modality, self-soothing can range from masturbation to eating a favored food. I did not feel sex with myself was the best choice in this case. I made some phone calls. I looked in the mirror (literally) and I did not care for what looked back at me. It was a face that revealed all the flaws from my internal landscape. I looked old and mean. I went to an AA meeting and told my woes, spinning in a little humor, because I am driven to do that. When they laughed, I had to laugh, too, and sincerely. I'm goony and I know it.  Soon began e-mails, phone calls and knocks at the door. "What's wrong? You almost seem depressed." That was a good word for it, though I didn't intend to succumb to it. "Are you eating and drinking fluids?" I was. As much as I felt I needed. "Do you need me to come over?"  No. Please. Finally, the insistent plea I did not care for, but relented to: "I need you to open the door and let me see you, just for a moment." I resented that. There was no bottle in there with me. I opened the door and proved that, delivering up a few harsh words to show my displeasure. She just grinned at my foul mouth.

Although I am an advanced age, there are certain basic skills which are not well-developed in me. I talked myself down this time, without alcohol or drama (if one dismisses my running to my room and slamming the door - please, it was a first attempt). I walked out realizing that my whole world had not just changed. One element had changed, no matter whether I supported it or not. Now I have options. I can do anything I want to do. This may require me to rise up out of my comfort-wallow and do some things differently, but it was time for that anyway. Perhaps I was growing just a little complacent. I'm not really all that entitled, one knows. Or I can just hold completely still and suck it up, tolerate that which does not please me. I'm not drunk, I'm not homeless, I've lost nothing. I've simply had something enter my atmosphere that does not charm me, and now . . . . what will I do with that? I wonder. Biggest lesson learned: I could have set fire to my hair, slit my wrists, and jumped off a bridge simultaneously while brandishing a bottle. Then I'd have more problems to solve. I didn't choose to go that way. The choice is within my power to make. It may shock the reader to learn that this may well be the first time I've ever made such a conscious choice in a matter that has thrown me, unless I was being managed by keepers stronger than I. That may be literally true.

When I first started in AA, I was told I only needed to be willing to believe in a higher power, not actually have one. This was a relief to me as that higher power thing was difficult and I was already struggling. At first, like many of us, I chose the AA group itself as my higher power. Surely that collective had to be more powerful than I on my own. No Jesus Christ for me, I began to read voraciously, in search of my higher power who has developed into a loving power, with the appearance of a lizard made from many spare lizard parts (I have seen such a lizard in the desert). Higher power's name is Roland. Come on, of course this is not literally true, but this is what I am willing to share - I've been told I can pray to a lightbulb or a doorknob if that's what works for me. The tenets of Rolandism draw from many learned writings and I seem to have well integrated one narrow precept fairly well. I applied it to my problem, worked it until I believed it, and came out healthy and sober, with a plan.

As much as I would like things to remain static, black and white, they don't. Everything changes every moment. I don't control that. But I do have to live with it. It occurs to me (lighting bolt at age 58) that, as nothing is black and white, then my tendencies to assign like/dislike, love/hate or right/wrong designation to a situation probably contribute to self-delusion. Rather than opposites, those things seem to be integral parts of the same whole concept, which I cannot dissect. I am forced to accept things as they are, not as I wish them to be and then stab them with a poster pin to hold them in place at the opportune stage. So, as the wind screams and my appointment was just pushed out until tomorrow, I believe I'll go put a few miles on my aching body.

Something that charms me/disarms me, that I like/dislike, love/hate:  I have lived a life down a groundhog hole in the dark. Reveal nothing! I am musing on the dichotomy of my groundhogly self now superimposed by someone transparent enough to be understood, even just a little. When I went too quiet, others noticed and asked me about it. More yin and yang? I'll have to meditate and let you know.


  1. Nothing wrong with a little drama, Kiddo. Change is a fact of life in fact for a long time The only god I believed in was Odtaa. One damn thing after another. People care about you, that's another fact of life. As difficult as life can be as long as were mindful of the blessings we have now we WILL be okay. Just don't drink as you've learned.

  2. I'm placing my bets on you against the bear.

  3. @ Tag ~ As we know, just don't take that first drink, eh?

    My drama in the past has been of the John Wilkes Booth variety vs. that of the actual actors on the stage playing in Our American Cousin. I'm looking for the middle ground.

  4. @ Kirk ~ I thank you for that. I'll see your bet and raise you a lizard.

  5. Your title jumped out at me as I had awoken from a dream of a bear chasing my mom and me this morning. I was pretty sure we were going to make it to the house before the mad sow caught up to us.

    So you can just outrun the bear if you don't want to wrestle... you do have choices indeed!
    xoxo Kim

  6. @ Numinosity Beads ~ Yow, Kim, that is a terrible dream! I'd take on a bear to help you and Mom escape. I'm used to it now.

    Lots of choices! Good ones and bad ones. Where will I land when all is said and done? For today - for this 24 hours - I think it will be in a positive place.

  7. What is the change in your living arrangement that you spoke of?

  8. @ the Badger ~ Not fit for blog, Badge. I'll send you an e-mail.