Sunday, July 28, 2013


I was raised in an adoptive home with people who did not have much of a social life - we lived in a small town, but we may as well have lived out in the bush, for the amount of social interaction that we were exposed to in that house. We lived a fairly isolated life, and once those doors were closed and locked, that was it. People didn't come to visit without advance notice, and a fair amount of planning. It was a "closed system:"

"A closed system is one that does not accept information from its environment. External factors are not welcome and it governs itself from within itself allowing no interactions."
                                                                      (definition from

That seems an excellent description of what happens to us when we isolate. We don't accept any information from our environment, and we allow no interactions.

Why did I do this? Because I was fearful.  To begin with, I was afraid of what people might think of me, of being judged and found wanting. Then as I became more trusting of the people in my early Al-Anon groups, it became more about not wanting to have to change my thinking. I was still firmly ensconced in the position that any problems were caused by the alcoholics in my life, and there was no room in my frame of reference for the understanding that even without those particular alcoholics, much of my thinking was self-defeating and negative.

Changing my thinking could be painful, difficult, and bring up feelings with which I would rather not have to deal.

I liken it to days such as today, when my back problems are making themselves felt. I awoke stiff and sore, uncomfortable with movement even though sitting still is equally as painful. I know that when I get up out of this chair and go to have a hot shower before church, I will feel better, the hot water will loosen my muscles, and the movements, stretching and bending required to shower and get dressed will help.  But overcoming the inertia, to stand up and move around, when I'm feeling like this, requires an effort of will, and a belief that I will feel better if I do this.

Just as in program, I must make the effort to change my thinking, trust in my Higher Power to help and guide me, and believe that the effort will bring rewards, both immediate, and long-lasting. It may be painful, frustrating and difficult to begin with, but if I perservere, soon I will be out in the sunshine walking to church, looking forward to giggling with my friends, and feeling hugely grateful for the love and serenity in my life.

But none of that good stuff will happen if I don't get up out of this chair, open the door to my apartment, and go out to greet this day.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Get A Grip

This morning I returned a call received the other day, from a nurse working for a screening program - I've been told I need a test, the same test that started it all off for my friend, who died a year ago this past May.  Thus far, I've been calm and relaxed about it, but this morning, when I called the number and listened while the automated voicemail gave directions about what I should do, I felt the first rise of unease - not a lot, not a great sweeping rush of it, just a momentary shiver running through me.

In Al-Anon, I learned what a waste of time it is to worry, and on the whole, I don't indulge in that mental torture of self. But this test was the beginning of the end for my friend, so I'm not surprised that I have the occasional thought trying to force its way into the forefront of my consciousness.

But I've also had ample life experience of hours, days, weeks, spent in fearful anticipation of "evils which never arrived," and I know what a pointless exercise it is to project the object of my fear onto the wall, and then tell myself frightening stories about it, when I could be enjoying my life. All I have is this moment, and it's my choice how I spend it. So,  I choose enjoyment.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

"...Tried To Carry This Message To Others..."

There is only so much of me to go around. When I left my ex, I changed my cell phone number, and when he somehow obtained it and began to call me, rather than get a new cell phone number, I chose to get a landline. When I leave home, and anyone calls me, they get voicemail, and the next time I'm back at home, I return the call. It's not possible to reach me at every hour of the day or night by telephone. There's a certain glorious feeling of freedom when I'm with my sweetheart at his place, and I know that no-one can get in touch with me. For the same reason, I don't take my laptop to his place, because emails can wait for a reply, also.

Some of my sponsees are chained to their phones, and find it irritating in the extreme that I am not instantly and always available. I understand this, but I've learned over my years of sponsoring that I'm not indispensable to anyone - it can actually be helpful to a sponsee  to not be able to reach me, and as a result, for them to choose to call another program member for support. It's not healthy for me, or for them, if they consider me their sole source of support. I like us to have a weekly meeting for working through the Steps together, and I will take whichever calls I am able, when I'm at home. When I'm out, I'm free of any feelings of responsibility for, or to, my sponsees. I give what I can, and that's enough.

This blog is another way I practise Step 12 in my program. Some periods of my life, I write on an almost daily basis, other times, not so often, but I do what I can, and try to discipline myself, without
turning it into a millstone around my neck. I will now and then receive a thank you letter from a reader which will bring a lump to my throat, because their words take me back to the time when I was new to this wonderful program, and just beginning my journey to recovery. I am powerfully grateful to my Higher Power for the love, acceptance and joy I have been given in my life, and for the ability to be of some use.

I can only do what I can do, and lately, my sweetheart has been getting the lion's share of my free time. It's still new and still amazing to me that we can get along in such peaceful serenity, livened by dashes of humour, and sprinkled with grace.

I hope that you are having a calm and satisfying weekend. 

Saturday, July 6, 2013

One Year Ago - Taking That Leap of Faith

When, exactly one year ago today, I decided to leave my marriage of 17 years, I chose to move back to this small capital city (where I lived for many years before my marriage,) in which I've always felt at home.

I recall when I first saw it, at the end of a long weekend spent with good friends at a beach about 4 hours drive north - I was enchanted by the old buildings, the small size, and the feeling that I'd finally found that for which I'd been searching during all the many moves from one place to another - a city to call home. My love for it has never wavered, and during the years of my marriage, when we always lived somewhere else, at the insistence of my ex-husband, I felt a never-ending longing to return to this city; it has been my home whether I've lived here or elsewhere.

So much has changed in this first year of being single again after so many long years spent trying to make a marriage with a sober-but-not-in-recovery alcoholic work. I entered that marriage with a great naivete, believing that because he'd been sober for 8 years when we met, he was "cured." I was disabused of that notion pretty quickly, but lived in hope for a long time. It was only when I was reeling from the sudden illness and death of my beloved friend that I was able to admit to myself, my Higher Power and another human being - friends in program - that I had given all to that relationship that I was willing to give. I was finally able to admit to myself just how abusive he was to me, and that he had no interest in changing or improving the way he behaved.

If there was going to be change, it was only going to come from and through me. When I asked for guidance, what I received was the feeling that it was my destiny to move on in my life without him, to strike out on my own.

So I gave two dear friends some of my possessions to keep for me, loaded up my car, and drove home to this clean and lovely city beside the sea. One year ago at 10:50pm, I was sitting in the kitchen of a local Transition House, speaking to a counsellor about the many years of verbal and emotional abuse I'd suffered in that marriage. I'd spent so much time and effort minimising, that it was hard to hear some of that behavior labelled "abusive" but with a little time and distance, I was able to admit the true depths of my unhappiness.

I was out on my own for about 4-5 months before I one day realised that in that marriage, I'd always felt like a bad person.

I spent many months working a very intense fourth step about the marriage, with my new sponsor, who incidentally was at my very first Al-Anon meeting 28 years ago. We worked though a lot of old guilt and old feelings that I think were the reason I stayed so long with a man who treated me so poorly. He was, like many unrecovered alcoholics, an expert manipulator, and guilt was his main weapon. As I once heard an old AA guy say, "The rocks in his head fit the holes in mine."

I loved living alone, the peace and serenity of it was balm to my soul, and I became ever closer to my Higher Power. About two months ago, I met a wonderful man, and we began as friends, sitting drinking tea and talking, talking, talking for hours about everything and anything, and laughing. He has program experience, a very 12-Step attitude to life, and a powerful gratitude, which is very attractive to me. It became clear fairly quickly that something more than friendship was growing between us, and I can still be amazed by the acceptance I feel for, and from, him. We get along astoundingly well, and the time spent in his company is a gift and a pleasure.  He made my birthday 4 days ago the best birthday I've had in a very long time; we went out to dinner with my sponsor, and had a wonderful time eating and laughing and enjoying each other.

I feel a comfort in his presence, and he brings me great joy with his humour and his loving gentle ways. It's a wonder, to be in love at my age of 56, and in love with a decent man I can respect and trust. God has been so good to me, all I had to do was listen for his guidance, and then follow it by taking that leap of faith out into the unknown, believing that I would be looked after. Life is good.