Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Because I am Sober

Holy crap where has the time gone?? Seems like only a few weeks ago I was checking out the options for going to college and Monday I started classes!!

I graduated high school in 1981 and other than Air Force leadership schools, 2 a month long and 2 correspondence courses, plus my Air Force technical school I haven't had any formal schooling. My late teens and early 20's where nothing but alcoholic drinking, then I got sober, got married, had a little girl. I got out of the Air Force after 10 years and even though I continued on in the Air National Guard which would of paid for school, I was too busy working and eventually even worse drinking to even think about college. Truth of the matter is I was getting by without a college degree even after I got sober again. Now at the ripe old age of 49 and after year spent working in a factory doing work which was too physically demanding for me, a year in which I applied for and was passed over for management jobs, I am going to college for the first time in my life.

My sponsor asked me if I was excited? The answer is no, I am scared. Fear comes from self doubt, looking at the thick text books and thinking I have to know everything in them NOW. Fear of not being able to remember stuff, freaking dead brain cells from substance abuse. Financial fear for giving up at least 2 years of regular work for a part time job, students loans and hopefully next semester grants/scholarships.

Monday morning I was able to put things into perspective, to see going to school in a practical light which I could wrap my head around, to 'intuitively know how to handle situations which use to baffle us". I looked at college as just another job, my assignments are like work orders and reports which need to be done within a certain amount of time, my home is now my office and my free time is now my work hours, my instructors are my bosses and trainers. By viewing college this way I can relate it to life experiences, see how I have been here before. I know from past experiences in starting new jobs I am not expected to know everything all at once. I know enough and am humble enough to ask for help today. If I want to make a change in my life I need to take action and accept the challenges those actions bring with them.

I have a Beginning Writing class on Monday's and Wednesday's. I will not receive any credits toward my degree for this class. My Compass test scores were high enough that I didn't need to really take this class but I did so because my grammar isn't the best, as anyone who reads this blog can attest to. I wanted to make sure my writing was up to snuff so I wouldn't get dinged on assignments and term papers for shitty grammar. Also since I like to write taking this course will help in my personal life and down the road job wise. Beware this blog will be an outlet of this class, still reflective of recovery life but also applying what I am learning.

I have Intro to Business as a web based class. The community college here is a satellite college, they offer some classes as lectures and labs but the majority are web classes. I feel this class should come easy enough for me so I don't need to be in a class room for it. This is one of two classes where my house is my office.   

I have Microcomputer Applications as another web based class. This class will further my knowledge of Microsoft Word, Excel, Publisher, plus teach me Power Point. I can navigate Word fairly well, know the basics of Excel and Publisher, know nothing about Power Point. This class is just a win, win all around.

My most challenging class will be Developmental Psychology which I have as a lecture on Thursday nights. I say this class will be the most challenging because even though I can comprehend the ideas, I may have a hard time remembering who wrote what. I read the first chapter and half of the second chapter at work, enjoyed what I read but got fearful over trying to remember all the information given. I hope my solution for this dilemma was the purchase of a small note book to write down important definitions, names and theories. One of my best friends got his masters degree in counseling so he will be a resource for me.

Because I am sober, I have the courage to change the things I don't like. I can see things in a new perspective. I can put my faith in a power greater than me, knowing with a bit of footwork I can accept my actions. I don't have worry about not comprehending my assignments because I am hungover. I can make it to class on time because I can get up in the morning feeling alive and refreshed. I won't put off assignments because drinking is more important and the notion there is always tomorrow. I can be self disciplined because I am aware of what I have invested in the change and also told enough people about who care enough for me to help keep me focused. I have mediation to calm my mind and bought some smooth jazz to listen while studying which helps block out other noises.

One a different note, my daughter has 3 weeks in which to be out of my house. She pissed of the landlords by not owning up to her responsibilities when it came to her being evicted from her apartment, not watching the kids close enough and choosing a girl to watch the kids who was not playing close enough attention to them either; kids have been allowed outside unsupervised on a few occasions unbeknown to me. I live on the bend of a busy street and the kids need supervised any time they go outside, Angel is pretty good about staying close to the house and not going in the street but Carter is Mr. Investigator, he will wander off to look at stuff or race his push car right out into the street. The kids can stay with me only if Mich gives me guardianship, as of right now she won't.

The landlord really did both of us a favor. Mich now has to figure out how to live without my support. She is kind of up a creek, she doesn't have the money to rent an apartment plus being evicted for 6 months back rent doesn't help. Her new boyfriend lives with his dad, doesn't have a job or drivers license. I really don't know what she is going to do and she hasn't talked about it since I told her she has to move.

I talked to an attorney about me filing for guardianship, he told as of right now a judge would side with her. He also told me to play close attention to her actions once she leaves, if she does not have a stable and safe environment for the kids then to call Child Protective Services. He said he feels the way she is going the kids will end up being wards of the state sooner or later at which time I will then be given guardianship. I don't like causing a big riff between Mich and me but I would rather have her mad at me than have the kids live an unstable life.

Because I am sober I can turn my daughter and grand babies over to my God. I can sit and watch to see what happens, know I have little control over a lot of what is going on. Because I am sober I have good people in my life to give me support, guidance and a swift kick in the butt when needed, instead of the few fair weather drinking friends I had in the past. I know I have said this in the past but because I am sober I can be here physically, emotional and spiritually for my grand babies and also my daughter.

Because I am sober I can live life on life's terms, fears and all. I have my struggles just like everyone else but I try to live the Steps, talk with others to the best of my ability contingent on my spiritual condition. I keep going to meetings, change my meeting schedule to fit my new life schedule. I go to meetings for newcomers and me, they help me and I might just once in awhile help them.

Well campers, I need to eat some lunch, then get ready for work. I am taking my computer textbook with me, Wednesday's, Monday's and Sunday's are pretty slow at the hotel so I have some time to study and read, thank you God for this job. 

Peace Love Light

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Pecking to be Pecking

“What I want to say is, we are all trying to get back home inside, back in touch with something which means something which is love and caring and that is what we have between us. It took me a long time to realize everything else is a bunch of well something else. Cause for a long time all I could remember to do was run away from myself and everyone who cared for me, you know." Stevie Ray Vaughan
We have to stay sober no matter how life treats us,
no matter whether nonalcoholics appreciate our sobriety or not.
We have to keep our sobriety independent of everything else,
not entangled with any people,
and not hedged in by any possible cop-outs or conditions.
- Living Sober, p. 64

I have been struggling with trying to change someone I can't, hoping a sick/irresponsible person will get responsible and grow up. I have allow her to effect my serenity. I tried doing some footwork to create change but she resisted the suggestions because she doesn't see how her actions are effecting her kids and me. She is just like her old man a few years back.

I wrote up a list of boundaries and expectations. I outlined what she needs to pay for living with me, when she has to be home so I don't miss my regular meetings and also things she needs to get done and to ask for help getting them done. I will also keep staying on top of this list, reminding her of things to make sure the important things don't get delayed whether she likes it or not.

Since I don't have any control over her all I can do is have my ducks in a row in case she messes up. I learned for the last episode, I know what has to be done if she gets in trouble again, I know exactly where to go to for legal assistance, what forms to be filled out and have authorized which will at least give me temporary guardianship of my grand babies. A good friend talked this over with me, he said all I can really do is sit back and see what happens. I pray also, I give my little ones love, support and guidance they need.

Deep inside I knew I couldn't force change, my concerned side was wanting to speed things up. When I sent a message to FB friends a couple of weeks ago it was written out of fear and the frustration the fear caused. With their mom staying out all night and not coming home until the afternoon I was fearful the little ones were not getting the love and attention they needed from their mom, Angel gets upset when mom isn't here, she is afraid mom won't come home again for a long time like before when she went to jail. I was frustrated/fearful because I have been spending a big part of my income on the kids and their mom, mom got things messed up again with HHS and benefits were dropped; no daycare, no insurance for the kids, no assistance with food. I was afraid mom's behavior would lead her back to jail or the hospital. I was frustrated that even though the little ones and I have a very strong and loving relationship, Papa shouldn't be the main one providing for their emotional needs.

Angel, 4 years old, has started calling me daddy on occasion. I think this may come from watching t.v. and seeing how most homes have a mommy and a daddy. She may be trying to make something non-traditional into something tradition according to what she is see in the world around her.

The money thing money has me a bit spooked. I try to be non-materialistic and not selfish, to not get wrapped up in what I am spending. The kids always have food which usually includes a weekly treat purchase, like fruit gummies, cantaloupe, peaches, etc. I have cut out bottled water, replaced it with 2 plastic jugs of water in the frig, we where going through a couple of cases a week. I started getting movies for Angel and me at the library, instead of Redbox. I also got out my old cigarette making devise to make my own smokes for around the house, I know I should stop all together but not in the right place to surrender. I have processed my needs and wants; been craving old David Bowie, Hunky Dory and Ziggy Stardust, both of which I had on vinyl, put both albums on the want list until things get better, using YouTube to get my fix. Having said all this I am grateful I have a home, can pay my bills, put gas in my truck and keep it insured. I am just going through a financial change do to my own actions; quiting my full time job to pursue a higher education, in time everything will become normal, the change is just stressful right now.

I have been working on my fears and frustrations with others. I share about them in general in meetings, talking about the importance of the steps and how they have helped me look at fear, what my part is and how I am not letting the fear become overwhelming, fear is present but not overwhelming. I have also use living in the moment quite a bit, doing what is in front of me and tackling a job at home which I have put off to keep me busy. It has taken a few 24 hours but I finally reached the point of surrender. I don't like drama and calamity and in true alcoholic fashion was looking for a quick fix not via booze or drugs but through other people and meetings. I acknowledge I was given another opportunity for growth. Through this challenge I was able to come home again, to get out of self, to see how I got into self, to stop worrying about the little ones and just give them what they need without the fear of what their mother is doing.

I have been working on this post for about a week, I am watching kids on the days mom works and even when she doesn't they are by my side, which is wonderful most of the time. Mom did give me part of her paycheck, which went to pay for an increased phone/Internet bill. Mom dropped the BF in South Carolina so I don't have to worry about her taking the kids out of state to live with a guy she hasn't seen in 5 years, who doesn't have a full time job, I had a feeling this would happen but still had things laid out to try and keep kids from moving just in case, she could go if she wanted, see how things worked out then in 6 months if all was good come get kids. She has a new BF, another loser in my opinion but it is her life. I talked to about this with a couple of old timers, who said they think she picks up guys in need of mothering so she doesn't have to look at herself and her own short comings. Once again the apple didn't fall too far from the tree.

 My work schedule has changed, the other person who works the evening shift needs Friday evenings free; she is taking an internship on Fridays and cannot commit to being at work by 3pm. I will be working Monday, Wednesday, Friday, have Saturdays off and we will alternate Sundays. This change in schedule helps out both her income and mine, instead of only working 2 days a week every other week, we both get 3 days regularly plus an added day every other week. I really enjoy working the hotel, talking to guest, making sure they enjoy their stay, selling the hotel to guest so we get good marks and return customers, playing the sly businessman who says "well how about I take $5.00 off the room rate," we get the sale and the guest is happy. With the exception of Friday nights, I will have some dead time to study; once I get towels folded, spot clean main areas, I walk around the hotel a few times a night to make sure everything looks good. The computer program came easy to me, doesn't take me much time to navigate it or find billing errors. The phone system can still kick my ass at times, mainly when I have 2 calls at once and have to interrupt one call to take another, I have to get over feeling like I am being rude to one customer in order to take a call from another.

All in all everything is going well or as it should be. I know things always work out if I put a little faith in Divine Providence. When I do this gig called life, one day at a time, I reap the benefits of the steps, I stay on the Middle Path. I need shaken up from time to time, it keeps me from getting complacent, teaches me new things, keeps me teachable, makes damn sure I use the spiritual tool kit and connect with others instead of trying to fly solo which is what I did in the past.

I am speaking out of town on Saturday, old friend of mine from here asked me to speak at her home group picnic in a town about 150 miles away. I have 3 buddies going with me for the road trip, old time AA at it's finest. I have pondered for a month what I was going to talk about. I now know I will talk about how a chronic drunk has found sobriety and has faced a lot of challenges in the 5-1/2 years he has been sober and stayed sober. I will share about overcoming the stigma of being a non-Christian in meetings which are dominated by Christians who sometimes forget what the BB and traditions say. I will talk about the deaths, the lost of jobs, the changes I done intentionally and those I had no control over. I will talk about the Solution, how it applies to my alcoholism and life in general. I will most definately praise how the obcession to drink has been lifted, now it is still mind boggling how this has happened, especially during challenging times.

Thanks for reading this long babble. Hope all of you are doing well with what life is giving you. Hope you are coming home to the you inside.

Peace Love Light

p.s. I re-enrolled in the VA for health care, last week I went of my check up. In 2009, last time I had a check with them, I had high blood pressure, 3 years later my blood pressure is good. I credit this to learning to live in the now and keep the stress in perspective. I still smoke a pack a day, have cut my coffee intake down to 1 pot a day, don't really exercise, still use salt because my taste buds are shot due to smoking. The only thing which has really changed is drinking more water and really learning to live life on life's terms. Not saying I need to continue the bad habits, I turn 50 next year and really have to make some health changes, my sponsor tells me to just keep praying for the willingness. I trust her, she has been smoke free for over 15 years.