Tonight we read from Living Sober and “Avoiding Anger and Resentment.”
Every time I come around to these topics, some of the same thoughts come to mind, the same old pains and hurts and sometimes new thoughts come as well.
When I think of anger, it brings up my delusional self that has a bent towards revenge and vindictiveness. The alter ego of the man I am today, who wields a very large aluminum bat.
Quietly plotting in the back of my mind, onerous things.
Tonight, that thought came, and I realized that I’ve already inflicted pain and suffering right where I wanted it to land. All because I chose to act.
Every action has consequences, either good or bad consequences.
I remember points of anger as they played out and I spoke of them to my friends.
It is always good to have men who are more than twenty five years sober to talk to.
When I got sober the first time, it was the best of times and it was the worst of times.
The location I got sober, was not healthy at all. The location I worked in was very healthy for all the right reasons. So I overlooked the negative.
The first year, when I got to a year, I had won the race. My horse came in first. I stayed sober, even while my fellows were all betting that I would go back out and drink, and made it plainly aware that the bets had been laid down.
As my sponsor gave me my chip, I told them all to go fuck themselves.
Not healthy at all. And that clouded the rest of the time I was still in the rooms. That unhealthy beginning only led to more unhealthy decisions and actions not to mention, unhealthy and not so sober men and women.
The second time I got sober, I followed the local playbook. And I played by the rules and did what ever I was told to do. And I have to say that, over the last 13 years and some months now, I have lost more friends to anger and resentment, in sobriety, than I did growing up.
When I was newly sober, I stayed away from conflict and kept my head down and when shit happened, if it didn’t involve me, I walked away. Said nothing. Did nothing.
As it went, people I loved and respected and adored, usually became casualties of their own shortcomings. It was my loss, but it was their anger and resentment that drove the wedge.
Today, in sobriety, I have a choice. To Act or Not to Act.
In most cases, if it does not directly involve me, I usually avoid the problem.
That has been my personal decision over the years.
The longer I am sober, I grow up, and I change.
When there is injustice or inequality or an inequity within my friends, for the most part, I am invested in the lives of my friends, I will sometimes offer counsel. Only when asked.
I never assume to have all the answers, because it is not all about me.
When my friends come to me for advice, I can do one of two things, One, give a solid answer, or Two, allow them to choose what they want to do, enlightening the subject they have asked about.
My friends trust me because every once in a while they come to talk.
Recently, I have shared a situation that has been on the stove.
The situation does not directly involve me. but when more than one friend comes to talk about the same subject about another friend, I chose to act. That action came full circle and I lost in the end. Not because of me, but because of someone else’s anger.
I spoke to several old timers about this situation, and not one of them had the same answer for me.
I owe and amends, I don’t owe an amends, I did the right thing, I should have stayed out of it altogether.
My sponsor has the last word in the consultation process.
But I see today, how sobriety has affected what I listen to, what I devote my time to, what I chose to act on, and what I choose to ignore and walk away from.
Situations arise. And the fine line is drawn. That fine line of wisdom to know the difference.
I see that today, that although I don’t always think about life in these terms, the serenity prayer always applies to any situation I have on my plate.
In the beginning, the better wisdom was to do nothing and not get involved.
Because, I did not have the ability to be objective and solid. They say that hindsight is our best teacher. And I have that today. The old timers have much more than I do.
Tonight’s revelation came when I realized that fine line that sits between action and inaction and how that applies to my life. And everyone in it.
People are where they are in their lives. And we have to allow them that latitude. Sober people are all over the map, when it comes to people, places and things. I am powerless over my friends, and I surely don’t want to be like some of my friends.
So I keep a safe distance, and I learn what NOT to do, based on the actions my friends choose to make on any situation. I’ve been doing that for almost 14 years now. My friends have been my greatest teachers. A good number of them drank again. And some of them never made it back and are either drunk or dead.
I stayed sober, because I did not follow the trend. I sat back and watched the fireworks.
Knowing when to act or not to act is wisdom in the bank.
“Wisdom to know the difference.”
More to come, stay tuned…
Never had we seen so much A.A. in so few words. With amazing speed the Serenity Prayer came into general use.
Last night I heard a young lady say that the long version of the Serenity Prayer was written by Bill’s secretary Anne, based on prayers Bill had around the office.
I wanted to do this post justice and give it proper time to build and be able to tell the story coherently.
At every meeting, where ever you go, this prayer starts the whole show. And in most meetings, more likely in Montreal, specifically, we use the long version of the Serenity Prayer, quite often.
In the beginning, we hear the words, and we recite the prayer as rote, because everyone else is saying it. Over time, we (read:me) begin to learn just what this prayer is saying about life and how things really are.
When we admit we are powerless over alcohol, we come to the second part of that Step One, that we are also powerless over people, places and things. However hard we assert ourselves in thinking that we can change other people, and therefore change the world, the Serenity Prayer quietly reorients us back to center, reminding us just where we sit in the grand scheme of things.
A couple years ago, at Christmas. hubby bought me a Serenity Prayer, sign that hangs over my desk, it is also right next to the front door. I see it throughout my day and as I come and go, I say the prayer, and usually, add the second part of the prayer to it.
I heard it also said, last night, that the Serenity Prayer is a “pause” or “break” to stop and rest. Amid the business of the day, we often need to stop and pause to reorient our minds and thoughts.
Yesterday evening I was sitting with a friend, talking about life and marriage. Marriage is a hot topic among my friends as of late. Our men are growing up into fine men, and marriage is one of the next things on the agenda of life.
Many years ago, when I was a new into sobriety, I moved from having nothing and no one in my life, to at eleven months, meeting my now husband, moving into the apartment we now live in, and beginning my University Career all the while maintaining my meeting schedule.
That happened over a short period of time.
We were in the deep end of the pool.
What happened next changed our lives in ways we did not envision, or expect, or really had a choice in. The man I met on that rainy Sunday afternoon and subsequently dated and that quickly morphed into cohabitation, is not the same man I married two years later.
Hubby had a cycling problem. The story of how our home evolved is directly attributed to his cycling issues. What was once a white sterile apartment, is now splashed with color in every room.
Soon after that issue arose, hubby had a nervous breakdown, and we found him a shrink who diagnosed him Bi-Polar, rapid cycling. At that time, or just prior to that time, hubby was a ebullient, vibrant, active in every way, man. We had an exciting life and a very deep and connected sex life as well. When ever where ever, jack rabbit activity.
When hubby fell into his stupor, he was comatose on the sofa for 15 hours a day. I was going to school, going to meetings, coming home, cooking, cleaning, and feeding him then I put him to bed every night. Doctors began dosing him with medication to try and help him.
This lasted then months …
We did not find the right mix on the first go. Medication usually takes three to four weeks to start working and for the next ten months, we tried every drug known to man, to try and fix him.
I can tell you that at night, I would sit here in the dark, in front of this box and weep. Not knowing what to do, what I could do, or what I could do better. I prayed, every day, every night, and in retelling this story yesterday, I thought about how my prayer life saved from from personal melt down, when that was not really an option.
Someone had to take care of hubby,
What we did not know then, we found out later, much to our surprise, Bi-Polar medications are toxic and really do a number on ones brain. In ten months of medical treatment, hubby went from the young man I met, to the man I got when he finally got up from his stupor.
Finally after ten months of treatment, the shrink offered one last trial. That was the pill that changed everything. Overnight, hubby went from stupor to alive and well.
It was miraculous.
That was August of 2004.
We had weathered the medical storm. But what we got on the other side, was night from day, how it was when this all started. The man I met and came to love and adore, was not the man I ended up with as his treatment progressed.
I was powerless over what was going to happen.
I was powerless to retain what was once reality.
I was powerless over everything.
I was powerless over the man who emerged after treatment.
Over time, I had to make peace with the man I ended up with, because he was so different from the man I met in the beginning. Half the man I knew had disappeared. it was like someone took a spoon and just dug out half of his brain and half the man he had been.
It totally emasculated him.
During all this time, the thoughts of, “I can’t handle this, it isn’t my problem, and I should just cut and run, would run through my mind.” I had decided in the beginning that I was going to stick and stay. I wasn’t going to leave him when he needed me the most.
I once heard a story, a friend told me about love and loss.
One day an elderly man went to the hospital to have stitches removed from his hand.
As he sat in chairs, the staff noticed him fidgeting and nervously looking at his watch. One of the male nurses decided to take him and do what needed to be done.
The man was nervous and shaking, as the nurse removed his stitches. And so the nurse asked him why he was fidgeting and “did he have somewhere he needed to be?”
The man replied that he had breakfast with his wife every morning, and if they did not hurry he would be late. He also offered that his wife had Alzheimer’s Disease and that she did not know who he was any longer.
The nurse then asked him, “why do you have breakfast with your wife every day, if she doesn’t remember who you are?”
The elderly man replied …“Because I remember who she is.”
After hearing this story, I was more resolute than I had ever been in taking care of the man I knew and the man I ended up with.
How did I make it through the darkness? I prayed. I went to meetings, I talked to my friends.
I was never alone, and hubby was never alone either.
The power of prayer can save lives, if used correctly.