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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.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

It's a Bitch

It was so hot you
could have fried an
egg on the pavement!
I use the word as it might relate to the dog days of summer, as that season has officially arrived. And today was hotter than one of those - 108-degrees on the blacktop when I arrived at AA at nearly 5:00 p.m. I'd been somewhat asleep at the wheel, only vaguely registering its imminent arrival, when my Tao Daily Meditation hit me between the eyes and said, "Hey, solstice is here!" Oh, yeah! Thanks, Tao. The "fun" time of year, though difficult to love in the Mojave Desert. And I'd like to be on record as one who rarely uses that "b" word about another person.

So, a brief quotation from Tao Meditation No. 172 and how it resonates with what I've currently got going on, which is also a bitch. By the way, I do not claim to be a practiced Taoist. When I am that good, I will claim to be so. I read Tao and try to harmonize its teachings with other daily devotionals that are important to me. The best days are the ones when each of my three testaments expresses the same (or a similar) idea in a different voice.  It happens, randomly, on more days than one might expect. In one language or another, sometimes my simple mind can comprehend and integrate more complex truths.
When the true light appears,
The entire planet turns to face it.
The summer solstice is the time of greatest light. It is a day of enormous power . . .
This great culmination is not static or permanent. Indeed, solstice as a time of culmination is only a barely perceptible point. The sun appears to stand still. Its diurnal motions seems to nearly cease. Yesterday it was still reaching this point; tomorrow, it will begin a new phase of its cycle.
Those who follow Tao celebrate this day to remind themselves of the cycles of existence . . . left and right, up and down, zenith and nadir . . . All of life is cycles. All of life is balance.
Ah, OK then, a powerful zenith in the sun's strongest light, maybe all the world pulled up to a visible projection just briefly, and a reminder to seek balance, to recognize nothing will be permanent, that ebb and flow are the only certain things. A message to alcoholics and other addicts: this constant motion thing is OK. It's the way of the world. In our language, this is "accepting life on life's terms."

I've been a member of AA for quite awhile now. I am encouraged to lead meetings and when the right person feels I am a woman who talks the talk and walks the walk and we agree I should be her sponsor, then that will happen. I own and voraciously read many of the recommended books, attempting to incorporate certain principles into my little life. I am progressing through my 12-steps at a slower pace than some because I have to argue about everything. I am made that way. It is not a footrace, luckily for me. But after I've argued something to death, if I ultimately accept it, I am a true believer because I've tried to deflate it and found it can't be mitigated. For myself only. I don't try to tell anyone else what is and isn't right for them. I'm not that good. By every benchmark, I should have bombed out by now for my first time. Those are the odds. That information and $1 will get you a cup of coffee at a really cheap place.

It's that balance thing that threatens my happy summer sunshine, that accepting life on life's terms and making my way forward. I am a person knows how to learn, and once I learn something, I have confidence in it and myself. Why can't I learn this balance deal? Am I an alcoholic because I lack balance or do I lack balance because I am an alcoholic? Regardless, it is the hardest thing I have ever struggled to reach. Most of "us" have a lot of human wreckage to repair once we become sober. I am no different and it is daunting. We are not obliged to undertake this in any particular way. We must not attempt to make direct amends to someone if to do so would further harm them. We are even allowed to not make direct amends to someone if to do so would be harmful to our own sobriety. That is a powerful freedom that must be tempered with "at what point does that become a cop-out?" If necessary, we are even encouraged to write a letter of amends we never intend to mail or send a letter to a dead man or to conduct a ritual of our own design. We may make an amends looking into and speaking to a mirror or a doorknob or we may make a "living amends" which means to let our present and future behavior say all there is to be said. In every case, we must somehow make amends to those we have harmed or whom we have lost in some way, expecting nothing from the other person, but only sweeping our own side of the street. Now we are sober, we hope we are so approachable we may reach some form of resolution with those who have harmed us, even though we may not owe them amends and we have no ability to design any detente. Yow. It is a tall order. But until we do this step properly and thoroughly, we will not have completed our 12 steps or know peace. And we must design our current and future behaviors to minimize resentments which are what cause our alcoholic breakdowns in human relationships. Ugh. Balance. Assertion in place of passivity or aggression. Responsibility for self and no one else and being OK with whatever happens. Wait a minute! It's my inability to do that which got me into trouble in the first place. No, I am not being funny.

Recently my friend and I discussed how we each were so misaligned that, as children, we failed to scream "pervert" in real personal crises, for fear of appearing impolite. Really. I have a long history of failing to holler for the CIA, the SSA, the FBI, a parent, someone's parole officer or a policeman on my own behalf when at least that needed to occur. On the other hand, I have some history of committing reprehensible, unfathomable, aggressive human crimes, of holding grudges, of being very difficult to love or forgive. Yes, I do want to find the sweet spot between the extremes. I think I see it, right there on the razor's edge. Without the assistance of alcohol, here are some things I've been working on. I think I'm doing halfway all right, though in some cases I am not making others very happy. And that's OK, too. I was in the people-pleasing business much too long.

So, would I really expose the shortcomings of an upstanding-looking blighter by publishing essays and badly written poetry (it exists, a suitcase full of it)? Unlikely. How does harming another person help me? Good logic, eh? Or write a l
etter to one parent on each coast of the U.S. to apologize for being such a difficult, colicky infant? Not going to happen. To my dear friend for whom I always pay and my friend who never, ever thinks of inviting me first: you may expect different behavior from me. Regarding the man who pressed his luck when I said, "I've told you this repeatedly for years." and he replied, "Well, you know, sometimes you don't pay attention to someone.": I was not loud, profane or difficult to understand. It was recommended I send official anger notification to those who "assisted" me in nearly killing myself with booze: already done. "You treated me terribly." Now I can begin my amends to each of them for I certainly have responsibility, too. [This should not be misconstrued as me saying ____ made me drink. This only refers to undeserved bad treatment by others. I dealt with it by choosing to drink.] Can I tell my friend and business associate I can't support the program as it stands? Done, well received and discussion to ensue. And for the friend who tells me what to do with my life before saying hello: get ready, dear!

Those things and similar ones can, did and could make me drink. That's not how I choose to do it today. What do you think? Progress? Old dogs/new tricks? In May and in June I attempted amends, expecting nothing. In both cases that is precisely what I got. These were not the giant roaring monsters like parents or ex-spouses. In one case, I do not believe I harmed the person directly, but I apologized if I had done that and said I'd love to have him/her in my life. In the other case, I had harmed the person but felt our bond had been deep enough for us to find some common ground. I did not get what I hoped for. I did not drink.

Something that charmed me:  It charmed me just now to type "I did not drink". It charmed me to find Ms. Janis singing "Summertime". It charms me to go out 4 feet from the French doors and slide into the pool nekkid under the moon. It charms me that tomorrow is expected to be 110-degrees. It charms me to keep trying as hard as I can try, apologizing when I have been clumsy. I wish everyone a joyful summer.

This does not charm me: I'm invited to a BBQ, a big bing-bang bash hosted by a friend of a friend. "What can I bring?," is always my first utterance. I love to make melon ball baskets and really good potato salad by the bathtubfull and 80 dozen deviled eggs, or whatever the host wants. "Oh, how about a big old bottle of tequila?" Really! "Um, that would be really difficult for me. Terribly difficult, actually. I can maintain balance with all of you and your tequila shots game like you played at Christmas, but I don't know about buying it, supplying it." This brought a smartassed comment which caused further conversation during which I gave no ground. She seems to have kind of dug her feet in. I've used no profanity, nor loud tone of voice. I'm surely not going to drink over it. But it's a bitch, you know?


  1. Telling someone they harmed you, and CONVINCING someone they harmed you, are two different things.

    WV surges: Increasingly unnecessary.

  2. @ Kirk ~ You've got that perfectly right. We don't try. It is not healthy for us. We just tell them. Most everything about the amends process is simply telling or stating or taking an action, but never, ever expecting anything back.

    Yikes, surges! Girl doesn't want those after about the age of 55.

  3. Leslie, I would be beside myself with joy to see you walk into my house with a platter of deviled eggs.

    Some people. damn.

  4. @ Erin ~ And don't you know, I'd even mix up some of the patented secret sauce vs. plain old low fat mayo!

  5. @Kirk, you are exactly right.

  6. @ CramCake (and Kirk) ~ Oh, it's Sunday and I'm feeling a little too much like a preacher, however . . as I understand it, where we finally land on peace is when we feel no need to convince them of anything whatsoever, but simply to get ouselves right. When I have that perfected, I will let you know how it works in practical application. I am not yet so very skilled at it. Better with some people than others.

  7. Melon balls would be good for me - and a catapult...balance, you say....

  8. @ Rachel ~ You are a sport, my good woman! Maybe it's just because you like me.

  9. That, and I am a crack shot with a sense of mischief bordering on the bonkers!

  10. @ Rachel ~ I'm pretty mischievous myself, my dear friend. Bordering on . . . well. ;~} Aren't we quite the combination: intelligent, good with words, funnier than hell and just a little out-there, ballsy. Yes, I recognize one of my own kind and I'm glad to know you.