Sunday, July 31, 2011

Elevator broken, use the Steps

Hi all, it is a warm and wonderful day here in central Nebraska, I day I hope I can visualize this winter when the cold north wind is freezing my skinny butt.

I went over to my back-up sponsor's house yesterday. The original plan was to start work on the 4th step using the Joe and Charlie tapes. Joe and Charlie are a couple of old timers in AA who got together to study the Big Book together, somewhere along the line they started doing their study with large groups of people. The studies have become popular within AA and my sponsor uses them as a guideline for working the steps with others. After we talked about certain things yesterday, she asked if I would be willing to go through the whole series of tapes and the steps again. She said she has found the tapes have been most helpful to people with a few years in recovery. My answer was sure. We have placed no deadline on completing the tapes or steps, due to our schedules, we will try and get together weekly but this may not always be the case.

As some know my sponsor isn't easily available and I have been mentally playing around with the idea of getting a new sponsor for this reason. The back-up sponsor is someone I see almost weekly at my home group and the person I use most often as a sounding board for what is going on in my life. Thing is though, I haven't committed myself to talking to one person on a regular bases. Some may think this is no big deal but for me it is. I need to lower my pride and face my fears. By talking to someone on a regular bases, I am allowing my God to work for me through others. I need to hear and talk about perspectives, I need to hear constructive criticism. I don't tend to make a lot of rash decisions but I still make my share of mistakes based on my ideas of what is best for me or my interpretation of God's will. I need a mentor because self mentoring isn't the healthiest thing for this old ex-drunk to do.

I am willing to work the steps again because I understand there is more which needs to be revealed. I need to look at my actions and thinking thus far on my road of recovery. I need to see where I have been right and wrong, to see the patterns and make adjustments if need be. When I had those 9 years of recovery in the past, I never reworked the steps. I believe in hindsight this added to my relapse. I have heard many an older member say they have worked the steps over a few times because life changes once we get sober and we need to evaluate the changes. Reworking the steps is a way of evaluating my emotional and spiritual sobriety. Working them with a new sponsor is an opportunity to get rigorously honest with yet another person. To say I don't fear another relapse would be a lie, I understand way to well how subtle complacency can sink in, how patient a foe alcoholism is. I go to meetings, I talk to people in recovery, I do a 10th step, I practice the 11th step and try to do service work when I can. Yet I believe there is still more work to be done.

In the last 4-1/2 years since I quit drinking I have gone through a lot of major changes and events. The stuff with my daughter, my parents, jobs, relationships. My spiritual path has been opened as well. All these things have a direct correlation on how I am living the steps. So when the suggestion was made to rework the steps, I was willing to say yes.

This is just what is going on with me. Just part of my journey I thought I would share with you.

Peace Love and Light

Monday, July 25, 2011

It is what It Is

Hey all, hope everyone is handling the heat. We haven't had the wicked thunderstorms here like some of you. Yesterday Sunday we received 1-1/2 rain, which was fine by me, my plants needed watering anyway. Heat index has been over 100. The plant I work in does not have any AC, so it is around 100 most nights, I have a couple of fans but still sweat rolls down my legs, having to wear jeans and steel toe boots in the heat is the worst. But at least I have a job and the heat will only last for another month or so. I don't have AC in my house either but that doesn't bother me, I use fans. I was raised without AC and a lot of the houses I have lived in didn't have AC either. The lack of AC has kept Mich and the kids way though. I am glad last year I finally got in the habit of drinking water, I am sure it is healthier for me than 3 pots of coffee and day;-)

O.K. I told a dear blogger friend I would write about this new relationship, I just needed to wait until Sunday to see what was going to go down before I did. It ended. The reason was she said she couldn't be in a relationship with a non-Christian and felt I have some deep-seated resentments toward Christianity, resentments which were a powder keg waiting to blow. She is right to a point, I have strong dislikes towards any power which imposes it philosophy on others through force and intolerance.

From the very start I have made it clear I don't believe in a Christian concept of God or Heaven. She was constantly praising me for giving her new perspectives on spiritual matters and life. She would tell me I was amazing and how much I was helping her, even borrowed a book by Thich Nhat Hanh. I had a hard time with the praise, yes my ego liked it but inside it was scary plus all I was doing was sharing what had been given to me, nothing original. I shared my perspectives on suffering, how suffering stems from selfish desires. Since her son is dying from Muscular Dystrophy I shared about my experiences watching my dad die and my feelings when he finally died and how it related to selfishness. I made it clear that even though I do not believe as Christian do, I am cool with Christianity and other beliefs, I believe religion can have a positive impact on peoples live whether they are Christian, Muslim, Pagan, Buddhist etc. We spent many hours talking about spiritual beliefs. We spent many hours sharing about ourselves, the good and the bad. She praised how I was different from other guys she had dated, marveled in our similar taste in music and other stuff. This was also an attraction for me. I hit if off with her son with MD, he is an intelligent young man and talked about religion his and mine. He was concerned about my not believing in Heaven and Jesus, I told him that as of right now I don't believe but this could change down the road.

Here are my thoughts on the afterlife. I don't know, don't know if there is one, if anything I believe the spirit continues on, inhabits different human living forms and when the spirit finally finds enlightenment, it ascends to a celestial place. I also believe that maybe, the spirit goes where we believe in; heaven, gathering of elders or what ever. Honestly I don't know and don't worry about it. For me living in the here and now is more important. My spirit will go where it goes and since I am a human and selfish I hope it goes to a peaceful place or continues on until it arrives at a peaceful place. I think the afterlife is as concept created my humans out of fear, fear of never seeing there loved ones again. Sure I would love to see my loves one again those who have gone on before me and come after, but I just don't know if this is going to happen, this type of belief isn't within my grasp of belief at this time in my life. My fantasy afterlife is to sit in the big concert listening to Stevie Ray, Lennon, Harry Chapin, Jimi, Janis, Cass Elliot, Karen Carpenter, Nat King Cole, Waylon, Cash, all the blues, jazz, folk, rock greats. I would like to also finally know the answers to some questions; who was really responsible for JFK's death, what was Hoovers part in it,and other questions which have baffled man.

So 2 weeks ago we were watching Season of the Witch. The main characters are knights of the Crusades. GF didn't know what the Crusades were about. With a bit of venom in my voice I said they were about the Christians killing non-Christians in an attempt to take back the Holy land. Both her and her son caught the contempt in my voice and pointed it out to me. I acknowledge my wrong, said I have problems with the church killing people for a holy agenda. We also talked about the genocide of the Native Americans and how they were forced to convert to Christianity. Once again I said it wasn't anything against Christians in general but the people in power with an agenda. If we had been watching Cry Freedom or Gandhi and I had made the same contemptuous statements against white South Africans or the British, even though it is wrong to hold contempt against a people for the acts of their leaders, I doubt nothing would have been said. By the affection I received after the movie I thought my amends was accepted and the fact that I still have areas of spirituality which need improving were accepted as well.

During the week thinks were normal, good conversations, words of affection and the I miss you texts. Side note; during this whole time she had been telling me she has let me into her life and her feelings more than any other man she has been with. So the following Saturday morning, there is a hiccup with her hospice worker, worker showed up late, gf had an hour to kill prior to going to work, 5am. I was still up and unwinding from work and she comes over. I am not an affectionate person right after work, I am very habitual about cooking something to eat and going on line to read blogs as a way to unwind and relax. We made out a little bit but for the most part she rested on the couch while I read, we did talk a also. I had to work later that day and then we were going to a friends for a BBQ. I called her after I got off work and noticed she was rather cold. When I got to her house the coldness was still present and pervaded through the evening. We got back to her house and had a healthy discussion, it seems my ignorance about having a child in a wheel chair upset her, I made a couple of wrong statements and suggestions. When I left there was a very confusing vibe in the air. Sunday I went over to her house, cooked supper, watched a movie and we talked about what was going on. I once again acknowledge my ignorance, and told her I reflected back on how I was when my dad was dying and how protective I was toward him and also my mom, how this protectiveness sometimes put me at odds with my siblings, it was the best way I could slightly put myself in her shoes. She told me she had to put her kids first and what was left over was for me, which I was fine with because I believe kids come before companions. My perspective from the hugs and kisses I received when I left was that we had just had a bump in the relationship, that time and more open conversations were needed but things were good between us. Monday's conversations weren't hot but not cold either, other than a comment by her about how I couldn't work in the incoming homeless shelter because it was Christian based. To which I replied yes couldn't, I respect the work the homeless shelter is doing, just have a different perspective on things which doesn't make me right or them wrong just different.

The rest of the week was completely without any communication from her. I sent a couple of text messages to her, mainly saying hi and hoping all was well, basically my way of saying, it is cool if you need to work things out, I haven't jumped ship. Sunday afternoon she invited me over, met me outside the house, gave me the movies and books back I had loaned her and said it was over, due to religious reasons. She said her son with MD was upset with me and didn't want to see me. I feel she took somethings I said out of context and failed to say I most always saying things are my perspective and others have the right to their perspectives. One of these was about a friend of ours who has in my opinion neglected her kids since she got into recovery, she spends at least 5 if not 6 nights a week at either recovery or church related meetings/events, she isn't home and available to her teenage kids and because of this the older ones have got into trouble which includes a teenage pregnancy. When I talk about this friend I always say " I love her dearly but I don't like what she is going and how it has effected the kids". The reason I have a gut feeling my words were twisted is, when she talked about past relationships she always pointed out the negatives about the person and didn't own her part.

The hurt for me is; I fear I have hurt her son. My reflections tell me, I was very careful with my words, always pointing out how my religion and philosophy were mine and other people have other paths.

The other thing which has rattled my cage was how fast she changed. Literally it was within a matter of hours. She went from hot to warm to cold within probably 48-72 hours. This really confused the hell out of me and is still messing with my mind.

We both walked into this relationship knowing the religious convictions of the other. The reason I invited her over for supper was so she could see the spiritual symbolism in my house and also the social convictions on display. I have a wall hanging with Coexist, which is spelled out with different religious symbols, poster of Lennon and the words to Imagine, Einstein with an anti-war quote plus different Buddhist items including a 2 foot statue. I knew she was a Christian and church goer and her faith was important to her. I was willing to see if we could accept each others differences, start a close friendship which might lead to something more. This it did for a few weeks.

I had a long conversation with my back up sponsor Sunday afternoon. She has over 35 years sobriety, she is also in her late 60's by the way. Connie has had some of the same struggles I have had with religion and religious leaders. We also talked about relationships. I have a date to go over to her house Saturday, she is a firm believer in using the Joe and Charlie cd's and 4th step work book. We are going to work on a 4th step about religion plus more on this relationship. I also need to add a Saturday night meeting, right now I only go on Sunday mornings, my work schedule and need for sleep keeps me away from weekly meetings. By picking up an additional meeting, I am opening myself up to the newcomer and at the same time paying more on my insurance policy.

I don't want this writing to sound like I am playing the victim. I understand my mistakes and my quirks. I am writing as a means to heal, grow and better understand what happened. Plus I need to be honest with those of you who read my blog.

I am alright not being in a relationship. I enjoy the spiritual, emotional and physical intimacy which comes with a relationship. For now though I am just going to kick back and breath. Maybe let someone find me instead of me finding them ;)

Stay cool friends and thanks for letting me ramble.

Peace Love and Light