Saturday, April 30, 2011

Channeling Gratitude

O.k. so may serenity has been on a roller coaster ride this week. The 1o hour days, 6 days a week work gig is messing with some serious ME time. I have been doing training with the machine operators on day shift, they are the pro's, so I have been going to work at 1:00pm to learn stuff from them the guy who trained me doesn't know, get off at 11:30pm. It must be psychological but for some reason working this shift is harder on me than the 4:30pm to 3:00am shift. I get up at 10am but lack energy and it seems before I know it I have to head to work again, no time to go over to mom's or anything, I am going to bed around 1:30am. With the other shift, I go to bed around 4:30am and am up by noon most days, which gives me a bit of time to do errands. For what ever reason, this different work schedule is kicking my butt.

I still have stuff to do in North Platte at mom's house; get stuff from the shed moved down here, odd ball yard work, want to stain the front deck, move rocks. I have some shuffling of stuff to do in my own shed also to make room for the stuff from mom's, garden to work on, spend time with dog. I haven't spent much time with Angel, Mich or Carter in 2 weeks either. So it would be nice to have a Saturday off, but from the sounds of things this isn't going to happen until maybe, just maybe Memorial day weekend. So yeah I have I am kind of bummed about the lack of me time.
There were a couple of times this week when I was actually pissed off about the whole no time on weekend thing. I would look at the work to do, which wasn't much because we are staying ahead and wonder why in the hell are we working weekends? Big picture is, there are quite a few customer orders on the books and they don't want to get behind on them, the rational side of my understands this, the selfish side is giving them the middle finger.

The last few chapters in the book I am reading have been about focusing on impermanence, seeing our frustrations for what they are and moving on, focusing on the moment at hand and staying out of the future. If you have ever read anything by Thich Nhat Hanh you know he puts a lot of emphasis on breathing and being our minds back to this moment, smiling and finding the inter peace within. The readings have given me the reminders I have needed to practice awareness, awareness needed to keep the frustration and anger from getting out of hand, they only ruin a few minutes off and on of the day and not the whole day. So the real perspective and gratitude is;

  • I will get a chance to move my stuff down, the house just went on the market.
  • After my morning meeting tomorrow, Sunday, I am picking up Angel and she can hang out with me, whether it is going shopping, going to mom's, working around the house. The main thing is we will be spending time together.
  • Next Sunday after the meeting I will head to North Platte, to mow, load up the vehicle and do what I can.
  • I can alternated my Sundays between Kearney and North Platte.
  • I will be back working 4:30pm to 3:00am in another week.
  • Prior to March 14th I didn't have a job, thus no income and was borrowing money to keep my bills paid.
  • I need to allow myself time to rest, important, I shouldn't beat myself up by not getting everything done at once, I am the only one applying pressure on me.
  • I have sent 2 resumes out, so still doing footwork on finding a job which will stabilize my hours.
  • I am not money hungry, a lot of people stress and suffer over the want of making big bucks, I am at peace making enough to live on plus a tad extra for some wants, like a new cd, camping gear, stuff for the kids or Mich.
  • The dog is happy to spend the time we have together, the extra is a bonus, plus I am more prone to taking her with me in the car now just so she is getting her share of daddy time.
  • Through all this, I have not craved a drink nor played around with a notion of one. It is awesome to want a cold bottle of water or root beer when I get home from work.
  • I am close to mom and the kids, both are within minutes drive time.
  • My home group is on Sunday mornings, so I am not substituting another meeting for it.
  • I am healthy, have my sore wrist and shoulder but nothing major.
  • My bills are paid.
  • My family is healthy.
  • I have 2 vehicles so if one is down, like my Honda is now, I have a back up until I can get the time to repair the other.
  • I am back living in the community of my choice, place where I feel most at home.
  • I have worked long hours and long weeks before, they didn't kill me then and won't now.
  • Getting fired was a blessing in disguise, I know this now. So even when things happen in my life I am not happy about I know sometimes good comes out of it.
  • Through struggle, I pay closer attention to awareness and the practice of acceptance. I am put in a situation of really applying spiritual principles to my daily life. I look deeper at the suffering, note the causes and use the tools to bring myself back to the middle path, sometimes quickly sometimes a bit slower.
  • Misery is optional, I make an effort to not stay miserable.
  • My life is wonderful, may not be the way I want it to be but it could be a damn sight worse. All I have to do is look around me with open eyes; tornadoes, flooding, unemployment, over stretched budgets, people placing the material ahead of the spiritual, active alcoholism and addiction, disease, death and suffering in many forms.
  • I am grateful for my blogger friends, your post help my unwind at night when I get home.
  • Grateful I have friends today, I no longer isolate myself from the world.
Well I need to put on my Frankenstein boots, steel toes, and get ready for work.

Peace Love and Light

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Quiet 12 Step work and some just stuff

My beautiful girls and papa's little miracle buddy.

Hey all, it is 10:30pm, most normal people are in bed or settling down for the night. I would really like to go to bed but since tomorrow I will have still be fairly alert through 3:00 am when I get off work, I am making myself stay up, otherwise I will wake up early and be seriously dragging ass. I am pretty use to the 4:00pm to 3:00am shift and am learning to operate the machine with fewer hiccups, multiple bends with varying degrees are still a challenge though. When I get frustrated, either due to fatigue or over tasked muscles, I remind myself; my bills are being paid and I will not be working this shift forever, I also do a mental gratitude list of the other blessings in my life.

One of the guys on night shift use to come to meetings, he was ordered by the court. He recognized me when I started working and stayed away from me. I would smile and say hi to him and not much else. Over the last couple of weeks we have had some small conversations, nothing to do about recovery, just general small talk. I don't know if he is drinking again or not but since he hasn't talked recovery with me I am pretty sure he has stopped going to meetings. I figured from day 1 if he wanted to talk recovery with me, I would leave it up to him to approach me. His recovery or lack of is none of my business unless he reaches out his hand. The best thing I can do for this guy, if he ever wants to talk is just be an example of what living sober is all about. Which brings me to guy #2. Hope this didn't sound redundant?

Guy #2 is a 24 year old, he was hired on the same time as me and operates the same machines. He is finishing up his court requirements after DUI number 2, has an interlock system in his car so he can go to work and meets weekly with probation and a couple of times a month with a counselor. A few weeks ago he started talking about his situation and how he went to inpatient treatment, I asked him who is counselor was and told him I know the counselor, told him I had went to the same treatment center and have been sober over 4 years. We talked a bit more about counseling that night but really didn't get to much into recovery. Then 2 weeks ago we were running a machine together, no one else was around, he started asking me about staying sober. I didn't go into the steps, shared more about going to meetings and fellowship. He is a big outdoors person; hunting, fishing, camping, kayaking and such. I told him about our sober camp-outs, about the yearly sober float down the big river, about dances. Told him there are plenty of guys in recovery who spend time together fishing and hunting. I gently planted a seed, now it is up to him to become willing to water the seed.

This morning at my home group a guy I use to work with, not technically sponsor because we never worked the steps, came to the meeting. He was shaking really bad and his face was swollen. He sat next to me and after the meeting asked to talk to me in private. His bottom got a bit lower Friday night, he was busted for drunk driving, blow a .2 something, this was his first DUI but it scared the crap out of him. He is pretty worried about the legal consequences for his actions, he has never been in jail before or had to face the judge. I told him some possibilities of what might happen but said it is really up to the judge and county attorney and I had no concrete answers for him. I told him the best thing he could do was try not to worry about it start going back to meetings on a regular bases, oh and to call me any time he needed to talk. Talking to him brought back memories of how scared I was of going to jail the first time but once there realized how big of a joke it was, didn't tell him this, but for me jail did not scare me sober. Another cool thing the meeting was big and the topic was fear, so he got to hear a lot about fear, what it was like and what it is like today.

My 12 step work is and has mostly been of the quiet living type. I have never been on an old time traditional 12 step call. I have carried the message into the county jail and mental hospital. The saying "you may be the only Big Book someone ever reads" is important to me. Like so may other aspects of my recovery I am not perfect with doing this. When it does happen I am grateful to my God for making me a vessel when the call arises. I can't "talk to the talk" and not "walk the walk", there is something inside of me, I believe it is called a God conscience which gives me great discomfort if I am bullshitting. On the other hand I don't flaunt my recovery either, if need be I let others know I am in AA/recovery. If there is a good reason to break my anonymity, like there was with guy #2 I will, otherwise I don't. Basically the sharing of my recovery is on a need to know bases and I have to trust my God conscience for the need of knowing. Part of it comes from hating being preached at, I figure others probably don't like it either. AA doesn't call on us to stand on the corner Big Book in hand witnessing to others about how great it is to be sober. Bill and some others did this once for us and later wrote the traditions to safe keep the fellowship from ruin.

Another aspect of my 12 step and service work is happening this Wednesday. Three years ago I was the district chairperson for Cooperation with the Professional Community (CPC). One of the things I did was start a panel discussion at the local nursing college. Prior to this the nursing students were required to attend a couple of AA meetings, problem was they weren't getting a good picture of AA because the meetings they showed up to could be on a wide range of topics and quite confusing. The panel discussions have been held twice a year since they were started, while I was gone from this area one of the ladies who was on the original panel, a former nurse with 34 years sobriety has taken over as chair for the discussion. Our discussions cover; Doctors Opinion and Silkies words on allergy, compulsion/obsession, hopelessness and psychic change; we talk about the steps and living sober, relapses and spirituality. We share our own stories briefly, then finish with a Q&A session. The college professor as been a good friend to AA and feels we have been of benefit to her students who after all some of which will get to witness alcoholism at its worst on the front lines of nursing. My friend the former nurse asked me to be on the panel again for this Wednesdays presentation. Her asking me was such an honor, it gave me a warm fuzzy inside. Not to blow my own horn here but it is nice when someone you respect says you are an important part of a team, glad you are back in town to be apart of the team again. I owe all of this to my God and practicing spiritual principles via AA and the Dharma.

Now for some lighter stuff.

Definition of nucking futs; we had really bad weather here Friday, nasty rain with mixed snow plus high winds. Friday was also the day the newest Harry Potter movies was released on video, so since I didn't see it in the theater and being a Harry Potter junkie, I went to our Walmart, which sits on a hill on the north end of town with no wind break to buy the movie. The real nutty part was I couldn't even watch the movie until after I got off work Saturday night, so I could have waited until then when the weather was better but nooo I had to have it the day it was released. Plus I wanted chocolates nuggets.

I really listened to the words of the classic Marvin Gaye song "Sexual Healing" the other night. I have always loved the song but with a semi awake mind I really heard the words. The song is very one sided, it is all about his needing sexual healing from her and not caring about her needs or feelings, totally lacks compassion. What a bummer to realize this, rather ruined my enjoyment of the song. Oh well just another one of those things that happens when my eyes open up a little bit more and I start hearing things with my heart. Still love the groove and vibe of the song though.

Speaking of music, I just discovered Joe Bonamassa. Amazon has been recommending him to me, if you use Amazon you know once you search or buy one genre of music they send recommendation emails, saying if you like Stevie Ray, Buddy Guy, Allman Bros, Johnny Winter, etc you will like him. Being rather contemptuous toward newer blues artist I didn't follower their recommendation until the other day when I was bored prior to work. Much to my surprise I really liked what I heard and bought his latest album. He plays the mostly the hard guitar blues I like, kind of a mix between Buddy Guy, SRV and Robin Trower with a dash of Keb Mo thrown in for the mellower songs. It is good to heard someone besides Derek Trucks band carrying on the this style of blues. The new Alison Krauss and Union Station disc is brilliant also, yeah I know I just switch from blues to Americana but my taste vary. If you like bluegrass flavored acoustic music with an earthly angel singer and a soulful male singer this is a must have disc. These talented people go years between albums but everyone is worth the wait.
Lastly, I planted the bleeding heart roots today for Linda. Also planted cannas and caladiums. Once these come up I can put down the landscape fabric and add my moss roses and other shorter plants. There is just something about having pretty flowers around my house makes me feel good, probably something heavy like "coming out of the darkest times in our lives we seek beauty". Then again it could be I just like having flowers to look at.

Well campers, thanks for sharing the ride with me tonight. Made it to 1:00am, probably won't push it much longer, I am grateful for spell check because my spelling blows worse then usual. Spending love, prayers and positive energy to you all. Thanks to my new readers for your comments, I appreciate them and have enjoyed reading your blogs also.

Peace Love and Light

Monday, April 11, 2011

No Regret, No Door Shutting

Hey all!

I have very few disagreements with what Bill wrote in the Big Book (Alcoholics Anonymous), yet I disagree with the promise "we will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it". I do regret certain aspects of my past but I do not wish to shut the door on them, the past gives me valuable insight in how to live my life today. I don't dwell on the past, to me this is where the danger comes in, there is no use in beating myself up over past events, by doing this I would be blocking the sunlight of the Spirit who provides inter peace. Yet on Saturday I rather found myself in a position to want to shut the door, to ignore the reality of the past.

Some of you know my ex-wife committed suicide, so please bear with me as I go over this part of my story again, to help complete the picture I am trying to paint.

When I met my ex she was trying to recover from addiction to pharmaceutical drugs, not just opiates but a whole range of them. In her defense I will say she did have medical problems in which she needed some of the drugs, on occasion. I say on occasion because the problems where not consistent. During the 7 years we where together and the 11 years I knew her, she never had more than a few months of clean time. She never stopped going to AA or NA for very long though. She made 4 suicide attempts within a 2 year period of time, ranging from damn near death to half ass cries for attention. It was the first 3 attempts which contributed to the end of our marriage and me waking up to the fact I didn't really love her in the way spouses should love each other, this is my part. I married her in an innocent rush thinking well this must be what love is, only later to realize, I loved her as a dear friend and not a soul mate, she was my first serious relationship after getting sober. We shared a lot in common, love if music, nature, gardening, we were quite compatible for the most part but the intimacy and passion didn't exist once the fun of infatuation wore off for me, sex became a chore and not a pleasure.

Her 4th attempt landed her in a state run mental ward and not a nice and cozy private hospital or rehab. When she got out she went to a halfway house and seemed to have finally hit a big enough bottom to really start following recovery suggestions. My guess is she probably stayed clean a little under a year.

While at the halfway house, she met the father of a girl there, he was in recovery also. She left the house before completing the recommended time of stay and move with to a town 4 hours away from Michelle. By this time I had also relapsed, this was 1997. Over the next 2 years we made contact via the connection to Mich, both of us where lying to each other about how bad the active addiction and alcoholism was in our lives. We didn't have any bitterness toward each other, although she was resentful towards me for not helping her out financial, she was having medical problems and I wouldn't provide insurance because I change jobs and it was too expensive to get her a supplemental insurance policy. This was a judgement call on my part, my ex was a hypochondriac/addict with a habit of doctor shopping, while she was on my insurance I saw all the statements showing her doctor shopping, going to doctors 50 or more miles away, plus her by then husband wasn't working and I didn't feel it was my responsibility to provide for her any longer, even though the divorce decree said I had to for another year. My money was tied up in raising Mich and my increased use of alcohol. In hindsight this was sick and wrong of me.

The last time Mich or I saw her alive was around Christmas of 1999, her marriage was on the rocks, she was trying to get me to let her live with us, which I wouldn't or couldn't do. She was a sad shell of her old self. Reflecting back on her parting words to me, I now know what she was planning to do. February 20th 2000, a Saturday morning, I received a phone call saying she had shot herself. I think she just gave up hope and wanted the mental and physical pain to end. Mich was 8 years old. Her death was a big blow to both of us, Mich was left without a mother and I was left with a huge feeling of guilt. The guilt fueled my acceleration into alcohol hell and would continue to be an excuse for poor me drinking. I also had a resentment towards her for leaving me to raise a daughter on my own, a daughter who really need a mother as she matured. I now see how selfish all of this was, the shame and resentment.

My ex-wifes husband sent us some of her belongs a few months after her death. I have been hauling them around with me for 11 years, they have been stored in my mom's shed for the last year. With mom now moving into her apartment the time had come for Mich to sort through the stuff, throw away what she didn't want. She did this on Saturday. It was the first time either of us had spent much time reflecting back on her mother and it was a bittersweet event.

One of the first things to go over where the books, her mother thought she could get recovery from reading self help books, mostly Christian based, my ex struggled with finding a connection to God, she wanted it so bad but never could make a connection good enough for her expectations. Like a lot of people, she was expecting too much and over complicating the simplicity of spirituality, I say this because I was to over complicated spirituality. These books Mich didn't want nor the AA stuff, I will give the Christian books to some friends along with the daily mediation books, her Big Book and poetry books I will keep. My ex loved the comic strip "For Better or Worse" she had most of the bound collections, Mich kept these and a couple of other books which struck her interest. Mich kept a few of her mom's clothes, bedspread and scarves. Also a few things her mom had keep from her own past growing up. Mich didn't know much about her mothers life growing up and I tried to fill in the best I could from memory.

Mich kept the photo albums also. Here is where I was shutting the door. As Mich was pouring over the albums I was messing with Angel and doing yard work. I did help identify certain people in the photos, Mich's grandparent, her late aunt and some of the relatives I knew. My ex was from England, so there has been no real contact with her family since her death, this is our fault, laziness born out of shame has prevented us from writing her dad, who was the only living member of the immediate family, that is if he is still alive. I still have his address and feel it is time both Mich and me try and reconnect if possible, Mich agrees.

When I got home Saturday night, I realized I was shying away from the photo's because I didn't want to open the door of the past too far. There where enough memories and emotions going on inside without adding the photos to them. My ex was a big part of my 4th and 5th steps, yet there is still a mixture of shame, love and regret inside of me concerning her. On occasion I will talk about her at meetings or with friends, especially on Mothers day. Mothers day is the one day I do take to mourn her death, I use to say it was for Mich but it is really for me. They say the grieving process last a long time and it is true. I still grieve my ex-wifes death, I still think about how much of Mich's life she missed out on and how things might of been different for Mich if her mother could have rescued her from my alcoholism, if she would have cleaned up and taken control of her own life. I can't help but have some regrets over the events of the past. I didn't pull the trigger and I never did have the power to get and keep her clean but I played a part her life, some was good and some was bad. As I write this I know the part of me that wants to shut the door is the part that doesn't want to reflect back on the good times we had together, there is a fear of opening a door tears. I am slowly understanding this and now know I need to revisit the past once again. I need to do a spiritual 4th and 5th step, to sit and have tea with a ghost. It is not I that I don't think about my ex on occasion, I do but I still have some peace to make with her and with me over our life together. The Divine works in funny ways, it is spring and perfect time for reflection, my ex loved being out in nature as much as I do, she loved flowers too, time to plant another Bleeding Heart in her memory.

Although Saturday was a day of sorrow, it was also a day of joy and happiness for both of us in our different ways. Mich learned a lot about her mother she didn't know. We bonded on a subject both of us don't talk about a lot. We both needed a bit more closure on Linda's death. Linda left an imprint in our hearts, this imprint will be pasted on to Angel and Carter even though will never get to meet her in person. Linda was a very kind and loving woman but she was also a very sick addict, something which has a strong impact on Mich and me today because both of us are quite capable of being just as sick, the disease is lying dormant in both of us.

This blog is dedicated to the memory of Linda Male. I hope you found the peace you where looking for and the suffering came to an end. I am no longer angry at you for taking your own life, you did what you felt was necessary. I will do what I can to honor your life by being the father and grandpa you believed in and loved so long ago when we first met and both of us where keeping clean and sober a day at a time. I loved you then and I still love you now.

Peace Love and Light

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


Hey all, going to try to do short bleeps here of what is going on and general thoughts, see if I can get away from the long paragraphs:-) Actually there isn't much to ramble on about in long paragraph form.

With spring comes new calves, like all new baby animals they are so cute. Haven't been able to hit the back road's to check out colts yet. The cottontail bunnies are all over the place as well, there are 4 hopping around outside our break area at night. My trailer is next to a large grain storage building, so the majority of the birds around my place are turtle doves. I am going to get some bird feeders and different types of seeds and see what other birds I can attract.

I am Jonesing to start working on flower beds. There a bunch of rocks at mom's house I am going to move down and create a border with, then put down garden fabric and top soil. I was checking out Canna's bulbs to put against the house, then work outward with larger to small flowers, rose bushes in the corners. I won't have a place for a vegetable garden but will get some planters for peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes.

Work is going good. I was lucky and didn't have to work Saturday. Last night the boss said things have slowed down a bit so we should be seeing a couple of weeks of 8 hour shifts and no weekends. I am fine with this, I like the overtime money but I am also old enough I like a lighter work schedule. I can survive without OT. I am still looking for another job but not obsessively, put in my resume for a counter sales position which requires knowledge of inventory control, ordering of parts and computer knowledge, all of which I have, time will tell if I get the interview. Staying away from human services positions, too many cutbacks in funding.

I had Angel stay with me Saturday. We had a good time, she played and watched movies, well the movies where playing, every once in awhile she would stop and watch it. She loves the Harry Potter movies, this is a good thing since I have them all and we can switch them up instead of watching the same one over and over again. I really love her random rushing up to me and giving me a big hug saying "love you", really warms the heart and makes me grateful I am sober. I have to keep my eye on her because her 2 year old interest gets into stuff she shouldn't, like finding utility knifes, dumping the salt shaker on the table and eating salt, trying to be sneaky and touch papa's laptop.

Carter is doing well also. There is a different dynamic with him. His father and grandparents control who he stays with, so I don't get to spend one on one time with him like I do Angel. He does know papa though and gives me big smiles when I visit or when Mich brings him over here.

My mom is stressing out about the move.I call her every couple of days and reiterate everything will be alright and there is no big rush to get stuff sorted out. My niece and her husband are helping me move mom's big stuff on the 24th of April, I will be going down each weekend and bring back what I can in the Explorer which holds quite a bit inside plus the roof rack. Even after she gets settled in here she can go back to North Platte and sort stuff out, there is no big hurry to put the house on the market, I will keep the lawn mower down there until the house is sold. High anxiety is a genetic trait in her family, the best I can do to help her is do what I can and comfort her with reassuring words.

As of March it has been 5 years since my last DUI. My insurance will go down in a couple of months, next billing cycle. It took my 7 more months to hit my bottom, 2 trips to jail, Mich attempting suicide at only 15 and being remove from the home. In those 7 months the paranoia was intense because I was doing things I wasn't suppose to be doing and scared to death I would be caught. I had also driven my family away for the most part, they couldn't deal with the pain of seeing me self destruct. I am grateful this is all behind me. I do the maintenance to the best of my ability to keep this lifestyle from returning. I can never forget the last couple of years of my drinking, especially those last 7 months, the insanity meter was pretty much pegged out.

Since I am unable to make it to a lot of meetings; been blessed to make the noon 12 and 12 meetings the last 2 Saturdays, plus home group Sunday morning, I make sure I read something from the Big Book or a spiritual book daily. I have been rereading one of Thich Nhat Hanh's books on my lunch break, maybe only a few pages but it is enough to keep me grounded. Like the Big Book, I discover something new and important every time I reread his books. I have my recovery friends on Facebook who also keep me ground with there post, Paula you are considered one of them, as is Pete.

The bravest 2 people I know are my friend Theresa and her son Trevor. Trevor is dying from Leukemia. They live each day as a new day. They truly understand how each moment we are alive is a gift. Trevor isn't afraid to die, he has accepted it, his acceptance has given Theresa the strength to accept it also. Theresa still goes to meetings regularly and does her best to live in recovery. They have also built a strong foundation in their faith. It is heartwarming to watch them. We can whine about so much trivial shit in our lives, then someone like Theresa and Trevor come along and show us how much we have to be grateful for and how with the aid of our Higher Power we can walk though anything in life. The sadness is still there but we don't allow it to control our lives, we face the reality no matter how unpleasant it is. I am bless to have these living examples of true Spirituality in my life. It proves it doesn't matter what spiritual path one takes, the benefits of living a spiritual life are all the same.

Well campers, time for me to get in the shower, then make my lunch, plus eat a bit before I go to work. My love, prayers and positive energy goes out to all of you!

Peace Love and Light