Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Letting Go - On New Years

Letting Go - a powerful concept.

I just placed into my God box a note asking for help in "letting go" and gaining peace and serenity this week. Then I go to Robert Anthony's book - by the way - not approved by the Al-Anon conference - and open up the page and there is a whole section on letting go.

Life and Al-Anon work this way for me now. The synchronicity thing . . .

I am going to quote from it and paraphrase what is means to me this morning.

"Whenever we get a strong belief, whenever we think that what we know is the truth, we then lock onto that belief as a defense against conflicting beliefs. We cannot hold conflicting beliefs in our mind without anxiety or distress. So what we do is gather supportive data and information to prove we are right and not crazy for believing what we believe. This can work against us in seeking out the truth because we operate in accord with the truth as we see it and not as it is.

Sometimes we hold on to opinions, attitudes and beliefs that no longer serve us. This is why we must examine our beliefs on a regular basis to see where we might be lying to ourselves or locking out information that may be more relevant. Why don’t we do this? We lock out the truth because we don't want to be wrong, make a mistake, or feel bad."

The words, "to prove we are right" hits me this morning. In my battle against alcoholism - my wife who is the alcoholic - I knew in my heart and intuition something was wrong. My wife, told me lies and made me think I was wrong. I fought to prove I was right. Now I lock onto my opinions and try to prove my "opinions" are right in normal, every day life - probably out of habit - but mostly out of feeling "less than" or insignificant.

I really don't think I do this as often as I did - in fact - I think I do this very rarely - but - I may be wrong. I need to look out for when I am tired.

I was tired last night. A person asked me out to a New Years celebration. I couldn't go and in reality -didn't want to. I am not a partying person right now. I know - boring. But I couldn't help but hear these words and start my judgment with this person . . .

She said, "I want to be around people and sip champagne . . ." I am saying to myself, "Why?"

I have no desire to do this. I locked onto this and started my questioning of her "desire" which was a form of judgment. It was on the phone that we had this conversation. This makes it doubly bad. My voice is deep and resonate. It can sound - well - hard. I am not hard - but when I am tired, I come across - well - I dislike admitting it - bad. I sounded controlling. I was manipulative in my questions.

This person is a nice person. Different values. Different desires. I said I wasn't going - and couldn't. I just should have "let go." And of course - I am beating myself up for my slip of judging. New Years was never a great time for me.

I had conflicting beliefs - because the truth is - I did want to go. I couldn't and shouldn't. I have stopped all alcohol intake. Not because I am an alcoholic - but because it scares the crap out of me now that I have seen its power and cunningness.

I am afraid of all who drink. I am afraid of anyone I might be attracted to. I know this disease could pop up again in my life. I am - afraid of it - no . . . scared shitless of it.

I am letting go today - because it is out of my "control."

Monday, December 29, 2008

Blueprint for Progress (Original Version-1976)

This was sent to me by a good friend in the program. She said this was one of her favorites. She has been in the program for - I think - 20 years plus. A smart and sensitive person, she has much wisdom.

Here is what she sent - exactly;

Blueprint for Progress (Original Version-1976)

Maturity – p. 31

Maturity is simply being grown up. It is the quality in people which helps them to balance their intellects and their emotions so that their behavior is appropriate. The ability to do the right thing at the right time requires a clear-eyed view of situations and people and an understanding of human limitations.

Mature people resist extremes, have realistic self-images and reasonable goals, and have learned to accept responsibility for their own actions. The only expectations they have are for themselves. The only inventories they take are their own.

Maturity – p. 34

Maturity is the growing awareness that you are neither all powerful nor helpless. It could be said to be the knowledge of what is, what might be, and what cannot be. It is not a destination; it is a road. It is the moment when you wake up after some grief or staggering blow and think, “I’m going to live, after all.” It is the moment when you find that something you have long believed is not so; and, parting with old convictions you find that you are still you; the moment you discover that someone else can do your job as well as you – but you go on doing it anyway; the moment you do the thing you have always been afraid of; the moment you realize that you are forever alone, but so is everyone else; and the hundred moments when you see yourself as you are. It is letting life happen in its own good order and making the most of what there is. It is “Letting go and letting God.”

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


Being provoked, when I read some one's comments, I said, "Ah yes, the alcoholic's primary weapon." Damn. I continue to be provoked.

This past weekend, late Friday to be precise, my spouse had her attorney send a fax to my attorney about two bills that were supposedly late - that supposedly I had not paid. I saw the fax, freaked out, and was down and depressed Friday and had this constant undertone of worry throughout the weekend.

Monday, I called both places. Both people said I was paid in full.

Okay. I breathed. I was relieved. But throughout the weekend, I was - well - worried and freaked. I was full of anger and bitterness. I even spoke to my spoke. No, that's not accurate. I fired back. It wasn't pretty. It wasn't healthy. It wasn't even necessary - or so I found out Monday. Two bills - one was $3o bucks - that was supposedly late. Two lawyers - charging $300 per hour - who knows how much that cost. Of course, I told her that. And of course the conversation drifted to her accusing me of stuff and of course I told her that what she is doing is because of alcoholism. And of course, we were both fired up.

And of course, here I am, Tuesday morning looking back at this colossal waste of energy and emotion and stress.

Looking back at what I could have done - and somethings I did do to relieve it.

I called my sponsor Friday night. I could tell he was busy. He told me I was doing the right thing by calling him and going to a meeting . . .

So when I called him, I was looking for this Friday meeting - Friday night - who would have ever thought I would be not at some "bar" on a Friday if I was single. Now I post this because this is my old thinking that if I was single on a Friday that I would have to go out with some buddies and entertain ourselves . . . but since I don't drink and bars are not where you find peace and serenity . . . And who the heck would ever have thought that I would be looking for peace and serenity?????

So, on Friday's I look for Al-Anon meetings - not bars. Not social scenes. But Al-Anon meetings. What a funny thing to post. Funny equaling - well - strange. But - maybe - well just funny.

My life has turned for the better.

I am going through a rough time. The holidays ARE stressful. We - or I - have this map in my head of what Christmas is supposed to be. It is this Norman Rockwell postcard picture of snow and a family decorating the tree. With friends coming over later - for - well - even Norman I think has this in a picture somewhere - eggnog with - alcohol mixed in. Well maybe he doesn't. But in my head he does.

But back to this crazy stupid thing that I ALLOWED to occur IN MY HEAD.

I was full of anger - resentment - bitterness - all masking worry. I was not able to find that meeting Friday night. And since I had my child most of the weekend - could not get to another meeting.

So here I am - this morning - realizing that - I have not been to a meeting in - what - 5 days? Let's see; Thursday, Friday or was I at the noon meeting Friday - I think I was - Saturday? Nope. Sunday or Monday? No and no.

I need a meeting.

Back to this anger. It is resentment. I resent being done unto (the fax). I resent being blamed for the divorce. She is saying ALL the neighbors know that I am a bastard. Of course I respond (retaliate), "Tell them to come talk to me and I can show the documents of this and that and why I am getting a divorce . . . blah, blah, blah."

Okay. So I am in recovery. I explaining that I can forget. Slip. Falter. And harbor ill-wills.

Resentment. I like what I have heard others say over and over about this harboring of ill-wills called resentment;

"Resentment is like drinking poison and hoping the other person will die."

Yep. It sure is. My stress level was up - WAAAY up Saturday. I allowed my peace and serenity to be broken.

Sure, life is easier for me. I am out of the abuse of the alcoholics throw of words. Today I can just hang up the phone.

Okay the phone is ringing - it's my soon to be ex-spouse . . .

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Being Provoked and Responding

I forgot about this word - "provoked."

It's so much easier to be out of the house of a raging alcoholic. I forgot how the alcoholic provokes and picks - until you cannot take it any more and you respond in retaliation.

While I am out of the house now, I am still being provoked, but no where the same amount and no where the same intensity. Some how, I still respond. Why the hell do I do this?

I am tired of the fighting - I want some peace. My soon to be ex-wife is accusing me of sleeping with my attorney's paralegal. Yes, she is nice looking. No, I am not sleeping with her.

Some how, the alcoholic - my soon to be ex - is so convincing, that I have to ask myself if I am sleeping with her.

Yes I do hang up now when I hear this bashing of how I am cheating. But not always. I defend by saying "I am not." When I defend, I am as good as dead.

I need to relax and detach. I need to chill tonight and this week. And why in the world do I have this compulsion to defend????

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Healed or Be Justified - Your Choice

In recovery I have learned many things. Learning is one thing. Practicing these and making them part of me is another (i.e. Living them). Here is a phase/sentence that is profound for me. I hope it resonates with you.

"You can either be justified or be healed. But you cannot do both."

I like that quote. It resonated with me this morning. Justification hangs on to negative, unrealistic and irrational thoughts. Justification makes my mind allow sickness to stay. Justification puts my life "on hold." It keeps me living in the past.

I let go of all justification. It keeps me rooted in the past and is associated with negative energy.

You've Already Won

I read every morning. I find if I can concentrate on something positive without being sidetracked, I set sail for a more peaceful day.

Being Worthy And Deserving
Here what I read this morning.

If you cannot accept yourself - accept that you are worthy and deserving - then you cannot accept the behavior of other people and are therefore in judgment of them.

Wow. Not accepting myself as worthy and deserving sets me up as a judger of others [I know, "judger" no such thing - but it 6:40AM on Saturday!].

Here is another little sentence that caught my eye and my mind. I've read it a dozen times in the past 5 months;

If you are judging others and not accepting yourself as worthy, then you are dwelling on lack and limitation.

Scarcity Thinking Leads Me To Control or Fear Based Thinking
Okay. I get it. I am sitting on the negative, scarcity side of my mind and looking at life through a lens of poverty, lack and limitation; or things I don't have and then look for more - so I can set myself up for more scarcity, which essentially leads me to more fear based thinking.

Another sentence - right after the last one;

By dwelling on lack and limitation - you are limiting yourself and consequently making decisions that are based on fear. Your thinking goes; What will they think? What will they do? What will they say?

It's All ABout Me and My Thinking
YIKERS!!! I see it in me! I start by thinking scarcity. I take a slow step by step into obsessive NEGATIVE thinking - about things I cannot control. And then I might set myself up to try to control this behavior of others or things outside myself, which I cannot, and I know I cannot.

Recovery: Trading Control For Fear?
If I begin to recover, I stop the controlling behavior of myself over others. So, I begin to see that I stop trying to control. This is where I think I first recognized that when I stopped trying to control the behavior of others and the outcome I learned I was powerless. BUT and this is a BIG BUT - now I realize I cannot control - but now FEAR Comes In!!!!!

Recovery: The NEXT Step?
If I realize, I am already OKAY - I am already whole, complete and perfect (what I do is not perfect - but if I truly believe in a HP - my HP has allowed me the grace to be imperfect which makes me perfect. Does that make sense?].

No Longer Having To Win The Approval of Others
The mere fact that my HP has "allowed" me to live in this world and experience it first hand tells me I have already Won. I don't need to prove myself. I don't need the acceptance of others. I don't need to get the opinions of others to state I am okay and worthy. I am already worthy; therfore I have won. I no longer need to try to win the approval of others.

I need to print this post out. Tape it to the end of a stick. And then tape the other end of the stick to my head so I reread this everyday for the next 21 days.

Peace and serenity to all this weekend

Friday, December 12, 2008

Identification With The Outcome

One of the greatest things I have learned in the program is that I identify with the outcome I want and desire.

Seeing the Outcome In My Mind
I find that if I visualize an outcome, I place my self-esteem and self-worth in that specific thing I am trying to produce. When it doesn't come about, or people are not "acting" in the manner I desire, I feel bad. In the past, I would try harder to convince them that my way was right.

Today I am much better - or so I believe. I think that today, some things really, truly, don't matter. They don't. And other times, I may get 50% of what I was expecting, but now I see that the other part I "didn't get," - well - it is probably better that it ended up differently.

Today I go into the office. I have new pressures and problems. I have a million issues to tackle. Some I am avoiding. When I don't accomplish all of them I am not beating myself up or feeling guilty.

I Am What I Am
I am slowly learning that I am what I am (the old Popeye song). I am not other things. I am not other people's opinions and expectations. I am not what others perceive what God wants for me. I am not the newspapers' version of reality. I am not my clothes, my car, rented house, I am not my daughter's opinion of me, or my attorney's opinion of me, or my soon to be ex-spouse's opinion, and sometimes - no - almost mostly - I am not my own opinion of me.

Experiencing This Mystery Called Life
I just am. I am a being - placed on this little hairball orbiting the sun - and I really - if there is a "should" - I should be grateful I am here on it and grateful to experience the ups and downs of this mystery called life. It truly is a mystery - this life thing. How wonderful to have experienced it and be experiencing it - close up and personal.

When I stop identifying with the outcome, I start to remove a mask, and just be. Just be - be experiencing this thing called life.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Letting Go

I went to a noon day Al-Anon meeting. I sat there with my mouth closed and I prayed.

I have been doing a lot of praying lately. I have never been a pray-er before Al-Anon.

About a year and a half ago a therapist my wife and I were seeing, told me to go to Al-Anon. My wife had stormed out of the meeting - she was drunk and neither the therapist nor me recognized that she was blitzed until 40 minutes into the session.

He said - "Are you a spiritual person?" My thoughts were: Are you freaking crazy???!! I have a wife who drives around town drunk with children in the car. Are you asking me to worship some sort of thing?!

I had no clue what spiritual meant. I think about this now as I type this. You see I forgot about this - and the question the therapist asked me. And I forgot how the question triggered in me a sense of - "Are you for freakin' real???"

The Al-Anon Meeting - Letting Go
But this post is about letting go. The topic was Progress not Perfection and Letting Go. Everyone commented on Progress. I don't think I am a perfection addict. I would like to be seen as brilliant - is that perfection? Maybe.

My Burning Issue of the Week
I sat in the room and listened - but I prayed to "let go." I was obsessing over my wife's comments from the morning before - she said the counsellor at school was very disturbed about my daughter's comments about me and she - the counselor - was going to call the state's Family and Child Protective Services on me. Now, you talk about fear? I left the conversation with my wife with so much fear - I was calling everyone. I finally got hold of the school counsellor and she said, "What? I have no thoughts about calling them. What I can tell is you are providing consequences for your child's bad behavior." I have taken her cell phone away for a day or two at a time, taken away computer privileges and one time - no - two times sent her to her room. I could not be seen as an oger or some weirdo that needs the state to be brought in. But the alcoholic - or the alcoholism - will lie. It will outfox the most brilliant. And it has staying power. Just when you let your guard down - BAMM! You are on the ropes.

Letting Go and Compassion
Anyway - I am letting go. Or trying to. I find that if I can feel compassion for my wife - the anger dissipates. Look, she is ill. She is stressed about the divorce as well. Yes, she has plenty of money. Yes, she chooses not to work. Yes, she is mad at me. All of these things are none of my business and - I don't need to think about them - (but I do!). She does what I call "mean things." Yep - mean equals setting me up about this calling the state Child Protective Services. Yep. And I think she is manipulating our child. Yep. But what can I do? She is - frankly - sick.

So, I feel compassion for her - when I want to heal. Yes, is compassion for her - or is it for me? I used to think it was for the alcoholic. But in reality, it is for me. Because I can let go by using or thinking with compassion. It may be the best tool I have - for me!

I am - in recovery - and damn proud of it. If I obsess or get into her head - is that going to help me or hurt me? I know the answer; it's going to hurt me. It will loop me back to old behavior. My ego is addicted to the old behavior and wants me to go back there.

Letting go is knowing I have no control of the past, nor what others are doing or saying.

A Couple of Quotes
I have a couple of quotes from Robert Anthony here. I hope they help you today;

  • Everything you have not cleared up from the past is running your life now.
  • What you have today is the result of your ideas yesterday.
  • You limit yourself in being stuck in your possessions and accomplishments.
  • The decisions we made in order to survive when we were 8 years old are the decisions we allow to run our lives now.
  • We learn to be happy by healing our fears.
  • The "art of release" can be very healing in that we learn to let of that which does not belong to us.
  • Actually, we don't own anything. Everything in our lives tend to circulate in and out of our experience.

Letting go of the past. Especially the things we used to survive. And we don't own anything. If I can hold onto those two thoughts forever, I feel some consolation? Is that the right word?

I came into the world with nothing and I will leave the world with nothing.

I don't need to be anything for anyone. I just need to be. Be me.

Hope you are well

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Friday's Lesson (For Me)

I had a tough event the other day. We had a divorce event - the deposition of my wife.

It was - in a word - horrible. The grilling that came about from the lying, made the event much longer.

I had a headache during and after the event, because I am an Al-Anoner. I felt for her. I empathized. I wanted to "rescue" her. Just tell the truth and this wouldn't take so long.

The next day I was called an SOB by the wife.

I wanted to reach out talk to her, tell her I was sorry. I wanted to scold my lawyer. I wanted to get everyone happy again. Sounds ridiculous of course.

Fortunately my sponsor answered my call. He was shopping at the grocery store (he is a stay at home dad). It was about 9AM. He was somewhere in the cereal aisle.

I told him about my wanting to fix. I was "jumping around in the squirrel cage," he said. Beautiful observation.

He also said, "This is a disease of arguments." Also beautiful. It sure is.

He also said, "I heard the other night, "I bought this frame, now if I could only get this picture to fit." Hmmm. Interesting. Yep. I have this filter or lens of how I see the world and I want the world to fit my point of view.

He said, "Joe, write out on paper everything you feel in unmanageable. Everything from your attorney's fees, your wife's feelings, your wife's calling you an SOB, to your daughter's saying she hates you, and everything else. And you can put it in your God box or shred it or whatever. Just write it down and get it out of your head."

Simple instruction. Simple action. There was resistance from my ego which said, "Don't write it down or else I will have nothing else to obsess about." Yep. I wrote it down. It was virtually gone from my mind. And I was able to clear the wanting to call everyone and "make it right."

Today I am grateful. I have a program. I have a sponsor. I am very lucky.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

12th Step - Having A Spiritual Awakening

Last night I went to a meeting - and the topic was on the 12th Step;

Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

I sat quietly in this meeting. I sat quietly - which is some what unusual for me - because I couldn't think of anything really "smart" to say (my ego wants to sound smart and impress others), and because I was tired. I realize now, that when I am tired, I am not my best and I am probably not very coherent. Now, you might say, "That's what you learned in Al-Anon???" Yep. It's one of the simple things, that in the past, I would not admit to, and "gut it out" and say just about anything so that I could sound "on" and not tired. Today, I can keep my mouth closed (not always) and just chill.

But this is not what I want to talk about today.

I want to share this:

Having had a spiritual awakening. Have I? Many shared that nothing came down from the heavens and hit them on the head and has given them an "Aha" moment or a great light came and provided them enlightenment.

I sat thinking in the meeting as others were talking - about all the things that happened that I cannot explain. The cardinals that came to my old home and then showed up at my new home and did some strange things and about a story of a cardinal in a meeting before the first hearing (something that I have not really revealed in this blog - that might appear as if I was was a little nuts - so I won't). The events that led me to a new job - a job that requires no travel versus the job I had before which was about 60% travel, that I had to scale back to 20 to 30% travel. And finding a new job - in fact several - in the midst of tough times. About meeting new people who are in a situation like mine.

All of these events above and others - that I consider - simply miraculous. Yes. I can say that word.

Finding God (or MY Higher Power)
But that is not my spiritual awakening. Even finding "God" or my HP in this program is not "Having had a spiritual awakening . . ." - at least not to me - although it could be.

The "although it could be" (above sentence - just reread that for a moment) - is part of what I am referring to.

I have tried to stop analyzing things and stopped thinking too deeply - but this is not always true.

Thinking Too Much (Part of the Spiritual Awakening)
The stopping of analyzing things IS part of my spiritual awakening. It is the little things that take me into my egoic mind and starts to reek havoc. The train wreck that comes about from thinking and more thinking.

Becoming More Conscious
I used to think I was pretty conscious. But this disease affected me a lot. It affected me minute by minute and covered me up with layers of thick blankets to where I could not tell what was real or illusions (my mind over thinking). I had layers of "denial" and "pretending everything was just swell."

I am becoming more conscious. I am in recovery. I am - seeing things differently. This is coming from a guy who has thousands - and I do mean thousands of books, audio programs, and video programs that HAVE HELPED me, and who thought he KNEW and KNOWS.

I remember two conversations at my wife's rehab center that are germane to this topic with one of the counselors. He said - I think it was the very first meeting; "We've all read all the self help books. But it is not until you are in a room like this." We were in a circle "discussing" - or "sharing" - much like Al-Anon.

In Recovery (and Admitting It!)
The second comment came from the same individual. He said, "Joe and his wife are in the early stages of recovery." Now for the record, my wife, was still drinking and later admitted it. I knew it - and I resented that statement about "She was in early in recovery" because my heart and mind and intuition were all screaming "She's drinking and won't stop." I wanted the truth to be on the table. I now know I am not in charge of her recovery nor am I responsible for the being the "truth teller." This is NOT my job.

This is easy to say NOW, now that I am no longer living with an alcoholic - an active alcoholic - one who is provoking and criticizing. I let you know this - because I would be lying to you if I said I could handle alcoholism again and live with it. I can't. I won't. But this is ME. I am not as strong as others are. I can admit that now. Even though - I believe a person who has the disease - can be the most beautiful and compassionate and most spiritual person. I can't because - I am too afraid of "what could happen."

But back to the point - I was - and still am in recovery. I hated that word. At the time, I "knew" there was nothing wrong with me. Duh. Denial? Yeah, maybe. Maybe more like ignorance.

Awakening, Slowly, Day By Day
The 12th Step is more around the "awakening" part. I am never fully "awakened." I am continously awakening - awakening from sleep - gaining consciousness - little by little, one day at a time, seeing things differently and seeing me, and how I see things as affecting how I see things and interpret events.

I am becoming more at ease with myself and others. I still rankle at when someone judges me. So I am not recovered on this part. But the program, that "spiritual awakening" for me is a continuous process of seeing things differently and using the previous 11 Steps as a foundation for me to live by - in and out of the program.

Not Part of the 12th Step (But Maybe it is . . . )
I hope this makes sense. But, there again, there is part of my recovery. Hoping this makes sense for you is - well, er, is, hmmm, "none of my business." Yep. Sounds harsh to an Al-Anoner. But truly, it is - "out of my control."

Boy, saying this, does sound weird and - frankly - uncaring. But that is my problem - how I think I sound to others.

Monday, December 1, 2008



I hear in the program that we are "human beings" not "human doings." I often get caught up in the outcome of the "doing." I have learned to focus on the goal or outcome and not be concerned with the doing.

I get confused sometimes. I think I am told and was taught to focus on the goal and not be concerned with the method.

As I look back, I should not be confused. I should try to achieve. But I do not need to "become" the outcome. In other words, I am already complete, whole and perfect. The outcome will not make me any more complete, whole and perfect.

Also, I need to just "be." Be who I am. Enjoy the present moment. Not focus on the future and say to myself, "When I get here, I will be happy." The "here" part of that sentence can be; money, a finalized divorce, a new relationship, recognition at work, etc.

I just need to Be.

I have also learned that focusing on the "doing" - I can find peace, serenity and joy. When I get anxious, I am not present, I am not in the moment. I start to look toward the outcome and the result of the doing.

I am sure you have been in a complete state of being. It can be when you got into a rhythm. When you lost track of time. You thoroughly enjoyed what it was you were doing.

I am caught up in the disease of future thinking. I am - well - weird. I have literally been on vacations, where I am thinking about getting back to work a week later.

I am getting better. I can just "be" - and when accept the present moment and who I am - I am much better off.

I am already. I am is being. Here and now - just be. I don't need to get, or have.

I came into this world with nothing. And, the sad thing is, I will leave with nothing. I think when i meet my maker - he will ask not; "What have you achieved?" But, "Did you enjoy the time you were on earth?"

Be. Accept the present. Better yet, find joy and beauty in the present. This allows me to "Be."

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Gratefulness & Keep The Focus On Yourself

Being grateful. What a word.

It was shared by someone I like in an Al-Anon meeting last Thursday night. Being grateful. He said he had car problems before the meeting and it was why he was late.

He has a nice car. I have seen it.

He said the old person, would have been cursing and angry. As the tow truck appeared, he called an Al-Anon friend to get a ride. And he said, he was grateful that the car had not broken down and had given him no problems for 27,000 miles he has had the car. It was a new approach to his thinking. And that this would not have happened without Al-Anon.

Interesting perspective.

Be grateful today Joe. You have;

A beautiful child. Who can be a little or a lot - "precocious." (some would say "spoiled").
You have a nice life.
You have money in the bank.
You are healthy.
You are working.
You have two arms and two legs.
You can see.
You can hear.
You have nice rented house.
You have food in the refrigerator.
You have true friends - a network.
You have a Higher Power - one you never knew you had.
You have a sponsor.
You have a blog site that you can share and possibly help others at the same time you are helping yourself.
You have a program. And without it you would be crazy, or worse.
You have tools. Meetings, books, slogans, friends, sponsor, and more.
You have a great mother, sister and brothers.
You have a laptop.
You have books to read, a library card, and the it is right down the street.

And on the list could go.

I am truly blessed, as long as I stay focused on myself. And I think this is truly the meaning of "focus on yourself;" It is being grateful. Focus on yourself and what you have - not what you don't have, can't be or what you think others are "doing to you."

Monday, November 24, 2008

Thanksgiving Time Last Year - Dark and Dispair

I remember last year - the two days before Thanksgiving, a day that I believe I was hitting an all-time low, it was a depression.

I felt hopeless and despair. I felt I was all alone. It was the worst feeling I could feel. My wife did not tell me when she was leaving for her parents home for Thanksgiving. And when she was ready to go, she had the car packed and barely said "Goodbye."

I stopped her and asked if I was supposed to go. It was the year I discovered her drinking - closet drinking - and I felt I was worthless, and no one cared. I felt my wife had abandoned me and our child and only did what was convenient for her and appearances with the neighbors, her family and her parents' friends.

I was living a lie.

I wanted her to say, "Yes of course. Please come. You know you are always invited. You are crazy to even ask if you should come."

I got - something to the effect of "It's up to you." It probably was not as bad as that, but that it what came through my filter into my head.

When they left - my child and wife - I sat at my office desk in my home - wanting to fall on the floor and cry. I wanted to curl in a ball. I think I did actually fall to the floor. I called my brothers and my sister. No one answered.

I think I did not have a sponsor yet - as this was the time I really needed one. I wanted to talk to someone, anyone, about how all alone I felt. It was one of the worst times in my life.

A Year Later
I am grateful that I am in recovery. I realize the effects of this disease are not recognizable to many people outside the program. And this hurts me to some degree, because I have to rationalize and explain what happened - only because I am going through a divorce.

I would not have to explain - if I wasn't going through a divorce. My wife and her lawyer are just trying to make me out as the unhappy husband. Oh yes, the unhappy, controlling husband.

I laugh now when I hear I am controlling. I was to some degree - as controlling. I wanted my wife to go back to work, exercise, and take care of things and not leave everything to the last minute. I wanted to house clean, food in the refrigerator and food for our child. My focus was on her - for sure. My world orbited her - as if she was the sun. I moved my orbit from Mercury - to one of Pluto. My orbit was cold and dark, and distant.

Today, I still orbit her, when I slip. I try to get her to see my side of things. And she can provoke me with a simple word, and then I fall right back into the orbit again.

But . . .
Today I have a program. I have new life. I have new friends. I feel worthwhile. I know while this divorce is not for everyone, it was right for me and our child.

I know - a year later - that I am here for a reason. A year ago, I never would have predicted a divorce. Sure, I thought about it. But actually do it? No way.

Today - I am even praying for my wife and her Higher Power to make a connection. I am praying for me and my Higher Power to make a connection. I am praying less for what I want or deem as right and now praying for guidance and praying that others receive guidance as well - but not from me, but their HP.

What a difference a year makes.

I am grateful for Al-Anon. It has helped me bring me sanity. And give me a new life.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Birds of a Feather

I picked up a favorite little series of books I took with me to this home this morning. It's James Allen's series starting with "As A Man Thinkth."

His second book in the series is "The Path to Prosperity."

In the section "Making Judgment of Others" his writes;

"And as we clothe both events and objects with our own thoughts, so likewise do we clothe the souls of others in the garments of our thoughts.

The suspicious believe everybody to be suspicious; the liar feels secure in thought that he is not so foolish as to believe that there is such a phenomenon as a strictly truthful person; . . .

. . . On the other hand, those who dwell in loving thoughts, see that in all calls forth their love and sympathy; the trusting and honest are not troubled by suspicions; the good-natured and charitable who rejoice at the good fortune of others, scarcely know what envy means; and he who has realized the Devine within himself recognizes it in all beings, even in the beasts.

And men and women are confirmed in their mental outlook because of the fact that, by law of cause and effect, they attract to themselves that which they set forth, so come in contact with people similar to themselves. The old adage, "Birds of a feather flock together," has deeper significance than is generally attached to it, for in the thought-world as in the world of matter, each clings to its kind.

Do you wish for kindness? Be kind.
Do you wish for truth? Be true.
What you give of yourself you will find;
The world is a reflex of you.

The greatest discovery to me is "We become what we think about." A variation of this is, that is also powerful is, "What we think about, we attract."

This little books was written a 100 years ago, way before the book and video "The Law of Attraction."

I hope you find peace today and tomorrow. Live in today and think and be what you want to be.

Have a great weekend.

Here is a link to James Allen's works:

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Just for Today: I Will Stay Intensely In The Present

I look around, my big, rented house is empty of people. Have lots of furniture, from my premarital days, pretty nice furniture, no big AT&T spool tables, food in the stainless steal refrigerator, which I bought from the last rented house for a great price, because I am a negotiator and cheap, my car starts, and I had a great nights sleep.

No one is "out to get me." There is no one outside my house with a gun. I have zero debt. I have my health. I am very, very fortunate.

What Happened?
So, what is wrong? You would say, in all candor, "You are an idiot for worrying." You might not say the word, "idiot," but you should and, frankly, you would think it.

Damn, I was spinning out of control Monday. I was spinning out of control a week ago. Everything I learned in Al-Anon seemed to evaporate at certain points and intervals.

I repeat; So, what went wrong?

My Mind Took Over - It Became A Cruel Master
My mind. My mind took over. I was a slave to my mind. I said before, "The mind, a cruel Master, but a good servant." I allowed my mind to become the Master. I did not use it as a tool.

Well, as I look back, I did not exercise (running/jog is my thing), and I did not sleep well.

The sleep thing was the biggest issue. Not sleeping allowed my mind to take control and govern my reactions and responses and my worries and fears GREW in size.

The Edges of Serenity
I look around - having had a good nights sleep - and I feel - well - very fortunate. I feel grateful. As I type those words, grateful and fortunate, and feel them, I also feel a peacefulness, maybe feeling the edges of the place where serenity lives.

I am rereading a book, The Power of Now. It is not CAL approved literature, but it has a lot of good tools that reinforce Al-Anon's tools - or vice-versa.

Intense Presence
The words on page 55 - bottom - "Intense Presence." I am drifting from the writing of the book now into my interpretation . . . When things go wrong, things that trigger fear etc. etc. I become unconscious. I react from the past. I cast my past on the future fast and I become last. I think of people, places and things that can harm me rather than for what they are, and all this thinking is not reality. But my body reacts, and the adrenaline flows, and the emotion comes up. My emotion is my body's reaction to what it believes is happening because of my thoughts. Even though nothing has happened, my brain is causing my body to emotionalize its defensive mechanisms.

One trigger, in this case my soon to be ex-wife's attack through an email, and my lack of sleep and just the pressures of a divorce, a move, a new job, the economy, all in the background, is amplified. And I play into the email trigger by responding with an email, and a follow up phone call which turns into a dozen conversations with someone who can push more buttons.

She knows all the buttons to hit. She is my qualifier. She is like a concert pianist - she can hit the right keys - and I jump. I realize now I am dancing with alcoholism - again. But I have provided the piano. And I am the one dancing. She, well, she is somewhere, in a car, driving, laughing her buttooski off. She got me to react and she got just what she wanted. And - I am the one that allowed it to happen. She is probably a good person - it is the alcoholism. She has buried the alcoholism in her mind and this is what bothers me too. I need to stop trying to play with an inferno of fire and just leave it alone. Instead, I remind her of it. Why? I know why. But why should I try to convince her? I am "going to the hardware store for a loaf of bread." This is an Al-Anon quote. This is my obsession, as I have learned in one of the free pamphlets from Al-Anon about our "disease."

Just for Today I Will Practice Intense Presence
Just For Today - I am going to practice INTENSE PRESENCE. I am not going to allow my mind to drift into the future or past. I am not going to feed these two time devices with anything else other than "distant observation."

I am going to see if I can remember this. I am going to visualize myself in a row boat on a lake, rowing away from shore, and observe from the boat what my mind is trying to grow when it occurs.

A Row Boat - (Or A Life Boat?)
The row boat thing comes from a negotiators book I read years ago from Harvard Negotiations Class. I cannot recall the name of the book right now - but it was a great book. Let me look on Amazon and come back to you . . .

Found it: Getting Past No. Like I said a great book and an easy read.

Intense Presence. I will not identify with my negative thoughts. As soon as I identify with the thoughts, I give the thought more energy and my body starts reacting. If I observe, it takes away the time (past and future) according to Tolle - author of the Power of Now. If I can step out of the time dimension - the thought loses power and I become intensely present.

Let's see if I can remember the rowboat and rowing away from the thought and just observing it from afar. Maybe it is my lifeboat. Interesting thought Joseph.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

My Pause Button and Fear

Rereading Tolle's book the past few days. Trying to stay present. Trying to understand how I am identifying with my fears and how this identification with my fears is creating havoc for me.

So, when I identify with what might happen - that is - the bad thing(s) that might happen - I lose serenity. Here's what I do;

I begin visualizing the drama that might play out. I imagine people in a room, talking or arguing, and it comes around to me, or about me. Some where, some how, I am criticized. I become, . . . , "less than." This pisses me off. And I react.

My reaction is usually tenseness. A tightening in the solar plexus. Shoulders tighten. I forget to breath.

I then leave the present moment and build escape routes in my mind.

A True Story
This happened at work yesterday. Before I went to work, my soon to be ex-wife sent a shit-eating email to me. I was "threatened." [As I write this - I realize how ridiculous this is; I am threatened by a freakin' email. Are you kidding me?!] I reply back. I barrage her with everything I have. I am typing furiously. I become the Shakespeare of modern day emails - my email has both attack and defense. It goes; "If you think this . . ." and "Do really believe you are not delusional and . . . "

Well, this isn't what I really wrote - but the jist is the same.

Fortunately there is this gap - a space now in my mind. It is a pause button. Albeit, a very small button. The pause button allows me to remember this "x" on the email - upper right. You know, the one that closes the email. I look. I pause again.

"But it is so well-written, this email.", my little ego says. "Send this. Send this" my ego chants.

Microsoft and the "Draft Option"
I am paused. I press the "x" at the right hand side of the email, It comes back with the option, "Do you want to save as a draft?" type of option. I click "draft" - essentially saying - "Save this for later." What it doesn't say, but it maybe implied is this: "For at this moment you are a moron and a lunatic. When you are better tomorrow - you can send it - if you decide to."

What happens is; I will not even read it and probably never delete it. This is just in case I need some more fiery words and beautiful attack prose. I have about 20 drafts now, sitting there, waiting to be reopened, reread, reused and sent.

Thank God or my HP for allowing me to get a "pause" button in my life. It is a small pause button, but it one just the same. And thank you Bill Gates and team for allowing me to save the emails to a Draft folder.

How-Freakin'-Ever (Or I was almost good)
How-freakin'-ever, and I do mean "how-freakin'-ever" - I did talk to my soon to ex-wife. I called her. I was like a moth to a flame.

My conversation drifted into parts of the netherworld. I brought them there, because my ex-wife knew where my buttons were. And of course, I would not be trespassed against by her insults. So, I - the King of Fear - and the Prince of Rejection - put up the barricades against the assault and placed all the troops along the fortress walls. Waiting with my slings and arrows to fire. And that they did. My slings and arrows are now pretty good at aiming. I know that the knees are weak and I can attack there. The adrenaline was coursing through my body, I was in "fight-mode" now. No turning back, no disengaging, you still have that shit-eating email you read, and that is underlying the defensive posture you are taking right now, so fire away!

Shit - she hung up on me. Hmmm. Must have wounded her. Adrenaline still flowing. Maybe call her again and fire the words I have saved up from previous draft emails.

Okay. In reality - my mind does not think like this - the "building the barricades" thing and the "slings and arrows" thing is really the caffeine this morning - and in truth another part of me that hopes you will think I am funny, witty and smart. And then there is another part of my - hoping you get the drift and relate to what happened to me. This is the "I hope I can fix you part of me." [Jezz, how many parts are there of me?]

Back to the story.

I was engaged, and damn it, it felt friggin' good. I was clear headed and articulate. I engaged with the precision of a brain surgeon.

Ed - The Dude
Another pause button. It comes in the form of "I wonder what Ed would say?" Ed is my sponsor. He is cool. A cool dude who I trust. He is a smart dude too. [Why this dude thing? I have no clue.]

I call my sponsor. Finally. "Hey Ed. Need some help here. I am addicted to the adrenaline. I am clear headed. I am not angry. I am precise. I need for you to help me to stop."

Ed answers. He asks me questions. This is like hitting the needle on the record player - if you remember this. To those too young - it is ejecting the CD from the player essentially.

He always calms me. I laugh at myself. He says, "Where is your serenity?" [This one gets me now. I am programmed to aim for serenity - aim is the key word].

He says, "Call someone in the program, call me, journal, but what the heck are you doing calling her?" Well this is not an exact quote. But he says, "you are fighting with alcoholism. You are wanting her to recover, why?" Basically I have this sad and logical excuse, "Weeellll, to save my child." It is lame. I know now that it cannot be done.

Another excuse lingers; "I have a crazy wife - soon to be ex-wife - who is blaming me for her drinking, tells me yesterday that her friends say 'If I were married to Joe, I would drink too.'"

When I reminded her, after that rediculous statement she made, that her friends loved and adored me, because I was sooo funny and that they always asked if I was going with the group, she got pissed off and hung up.

And of course, not letting sleeping dogs lie, I called her and asked her; "So, which friends actually said this?" - as if I would get an answer - And then I did the ultimate - I said, "If you are saying this, and really believe it, you are NOT in recovery."

Getting Recovery - Pause to Stop
Yepity depity. I was in true form yesterday. I was unproductive at work part of the day - But, I was fully engaged.

My sponsor. My sponsor. My sponsor. He is a pause button for me.

PAUSE. Better yet; STOP. I need to build I new button. A STOP button.

A Little More On Where My Fear Is Coming From
Anyway, our mediation date was set up and changed and now set up again. For those who are not familiar with mediation date, this is the last ditch effort to dissolve the marriage and spilt stuff up and get on with a new life as amicably as possible. It is the last ditch effort before a true court date. My fear is I am dealing with an alcoholic. And this alcoholic knows how to obfuscate and deceive. I feel she is not facing the music and she is making me out to be the bad guy. And that makes my fear rise in my chest and head. I am not the bad guy here. But some how, she knows how to get me thinking that maybe I am.

Hope this helps you to see what is running through my head - at least what was going on yesterday for me.

One More Thing - Steps 1 & 3
I need a break. I need another Step 3. Oh, by the way, my sponsor said many things, but he said, "Sounds like your life has become unmanageable. Have you gone to Step 1 and Step 3 yet?" He also said, don't go and make amends when I asked "Duh, should I call and apologize?" He said, "No. You are jumping all the Steps if you do. They are in sequence for a reason. Do Step 1 and 3 - you already believe in a HP. He has already acted in your life. Use your HP again - today." Great advice. I need to follow it. All this advice and it is soooo for free.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Being Tired

I cannot sleep for some reason. And when I wake up, I have this little pounding and heaviness in the back of head.

Why can't I sleep?

I routinely wake up at 3AM. One eye sees the clock and I roll over trying to sleep.

I sleep moderately for about an hour and a half. Then I am up. My problem is lately I have going to bed around 10:30 or 11PM.

I used to hit the hay at 9:30PM. I know, you are thinking, "why sooo early?" Because my morning is my private and quiet time for learning and centering myself.

I need to work hard on getting some sleep. Need to research this and get back to my regimen.

Why I am posting, or blogging about sleep? Because I think it is a direct cause of my latest round of fears and worries. Or at least it exacerbates them. I don't react well to my soon to be ex-spouse's emails or her phone calls. But yesterday I did. I was proud of myself ,as she was screaming at me that I needed to get my stuff out of her house. I was calm. I explained that she was doing all the talking (screaming) and what she was saying was she quoting me. It was interesting because what she was doing was quoting what she thought I was going to say - even though I couldn't say anything because she was doing all the talking (screaming). I was calm and pointed this out to her. Then she hung up on me. I was on the cell phone in the lobby of my work place. So, I did the natural thing, . . . I called her back. Duh. Dumb move. Getting sucked into a verbal battle is easy to do for me. My response to the "flight" or "fight" thing is to "fight." I am an excellent verbal jouster. Or at least I was. And I was proud of it. Now I am trying to build into my repetoire of skills, the "flight" thing.

Fortunately, when I called back, she refused to pick up.

But as I look back on the conversation (the fact it was not conversation - she was screaming) - maybe I should have pressed the little red button on my cell phone and not wait for her to hang up. Yes. That would make me feel superior. The word superior did not come into my thouht process yesterday when I thought about this alternative action. But getting the thought of "upper hand" did come into my thinking.

I am tired and this thinking comes into my head when I am tired.

Also, I find I eat when I am not hungry when I am tired.

Last, I say things more readily, without thinking of the consequences when I am tired.

I am going to exercise my tail off today and this weekend. I am going to tire myself out so I can get some sleep. AND I am going to take a long nap tomorrow. I read you can't catch up on missing sleep. Then I heard from a friend that you can. Anyway I am going to try it.

Also - I need to run and go to an Al-Anon meeting. I will go today at the noon day meeting.

Peace to all. Sorry about not posting this week .... I have been swamped

Monday, November 3, 2008

A Quick Post

Pressures. Some we cannot avoid. Read my previous post(s) - I was down and out in Beverly Hills (I don't live there though - just a metaphor or whatever they call it).

I need to remember to do the things that bring me serenity. Avoid the things that don't.

Ask yourself, "Will this bring me serenity?"

That's the ultimate question.

I got further off kilter the other night trying to engage my ex-wife in a conversation around "why it was wrong to tell our child there is no such thing as Santa Claus." I tried to convince her I should have been consulted. When that didn't work, I then launched into a "I should have notified after she did it without consulting me." Hellllooooo?! Knock knock on your forehead - is anyone home in there?????

What I wanted was not to be made insignificant. But even though she did this Santa thing - it was me who decided to feel insignificant.

What was I thinking? She was going to make me feel better with all my convincing? Duh.

Hoping you all make it a great week. And if you have a choice - Aim for serenity!!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Give Yourself A Break Today - And Me Too

Okay. I had a tough couple of days. What happened? Let's review. First, before I go into what I think I did "wrong" that had my head spinning, what did I do right?

Well, here is the one thing I did:

I called a friend - a strong friend - who had an alcoholic wife and divorced her. He said "Joe, look at what you've accomplished. You moved out of a bad situation. You got a new job. You don't have to travel anymore. Your new job is new and therefore has pressures. You are going through a divorce and that alone can be tough - but the alcoholic is making you think that there is not a problem with her, but it is with you and you are sensing everyone thinks she is just fine. This makes you a little crazy. Then you are helping raise a child whose mother is not - let's face it - a normal mother. You have to be the person who says "No" and you have to be the disciplinarian. Your spouse told your child - without consulting you and not informing you that she did, that there is no Santa Claus. And that made you feel unappreciated and maybe non-existent. It also says your child is passing from one stage of life to another. Then you have your child this week - and she/he is stressed probably because she/he is moving again and she/he acts out. She/he comes home from school and you have to figure how you are going to get off from work to be there when she gets there and not let that interfere with your work or the perception of how you are performing your work. Then you had to transfer the electricity, water, garbage pick-up, phone service, cable, gas, Internet and the rest of the services over to the new house. Then you had to buy - negotiate the price of a washer and dryer and refrigerator from the old house in order to have one in the new house. Then your child says this new house "smells" like dog poop - even though it is an upscale house - and she is smelling the new cherry cabinets installed and mistaking that as an awful smell, and then your internet service and phone service isn't working. Then at work, you are told you have to probably fire/lay-off some one who is not performing and the previous manager left that for you to do . . .

Gee Joe - why are you stressed? And, oh by the way, you didn't sleep well and you did not have time to go running this week.

Again - why are you stressed?

Helllllooooo? Is any body home???? You are stressed. GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK! You are HUMAN!!!!!!!!

It is okay to make mistakes, to live, to feel bad. But don't beat yourself up.

Okay - I started off with the sentence at the top -saying let's see what I did right. I guess what I wrote was - what is happening.

I was stressed. What I did right was I called and spoke to this person who listened to me and then repeated it back to me in such a way that I could see what and why I was feeling "low."

It's good to have such friends.

I needed to talk to my sponsor - but I didn't have the courage to talk to him yesterday for some reason. So I called this friend - a really good friend. He is not in Al-Anon but has a deep spiritual belief in God and he reminds me that God has a plan. And my fears and worries of things that might happen, that if these things do happen, may be blessings in the long run. Just like things have worked out before - these worries may become the best things that could happen to me and my child. I worry that the judge will give custody to my wife and I will only see her 2 days every two weeks.

This is a horrible disease. My wife is sick and in denial, and not getting treatment. She is paranoid and blames me for everything. She calls me names and knows how to manipulate people into thinking she is perfect and fun and the good person. While I know it is the disease and my worries - I know I have become a much different person and I am seeing a peaceful side of me I have not seen in a long time.

But when I try to talk to my wife - exwife - wife in limbo - esstranged wife - whatever she is - about our child - she gets angry and defensive. I want this divorce to be done but most of all I want my child to be safe - and free from this disease. It is why I filed for divorce in the first place. I seem to have forgotten about that. So has my wife. She is making everyone think I was "just unhappy." AND I WAS. But now I see it. It is only second though to my child's safety. And I don't mean physical safety only - I mean mental well-being.

But I can control only what I can control. My thoughts, and my reactions, and my behavior.

I cannot help my wife. I tried -the other night - to explain that she is going to have to help me discipline our child and that statement set off a firestorm of derision and hate. Maybe I was wrong in seeking out out help from her. But our child had used some strong words and I wanted to see if our child was using these words at my ex-wife's house. Well, that was a mistake to ask that - I see it now.

I was also pissed off that she told our child that there is no Santa. We have a big tradition of certain events happening leading up to Christmas. Anyway, that hurt me that I wasn't consulted, nor informed that our child was told. I was caught off guard when my child asked me if I would tell her the truth about Santa. I said that I believed in Santa. Our child then told me what mom had told her. Pissed and hurt - I was. That lumped on top of all the stressors was the icing on the cake for me.

Anyway - I hope you can give me courage, wisdom and hope with your comments.

I know "This too shall pass."

Thursday, October 30, 2008

What Was I Worried About

Well, following up, I went to dinner with the President and the people in the office. Actually, everyone had a really good time (me too).

While I didn't drink, three others didn't either. I wasn't counting - but I do recall this as I scan from memory around the table.

Today I am making a change - when you rent a house and the house is for sale - the house can be sold!

Well, I am moving. Moving is stressful. Divorce is stressful. Raising a child is stressful. Work is stressful. Or is it?

I need to make a mind shift. Whenever I get into this state, somewhere along the way I am able to shift my thinking.

Actually, all the above is - life. And many of the things are change and the change is always for the better. Each time - and I really mean this - I think God has forgotten about me and has heaped something else on my plate - is has - I believe - always been for the good.

I have found that each and every time something huge has come along - it always worked out for the better. Now with a program I can use the tools. I am using Step 1, 2 and 3 - on everyone of these. And I am remembering - "It will either work out or . . . . it will work out."

At Al-Anon on Tuesday I shared my plight at a meeting after I blogged. There wasn't a discussion leader and I was asked as I was walking into the meeting if I wanted to lead the discussion. Being a good helper I said "Yes, of course."

I was given the book "How Al-Anon Works" and I believe it is chapter 11 that discusses detachment and - I remember the word/term "becoming enmeshed" or "enmeshment." That is what I am feeling and sensing myself doing. I become wrapped up in work - and I see myself and work as one, the same. I am work. I am a person too who becomes wrapped up into someone else liking me. Even though I deny it.

I must work on detachment more. I thought I had this one - but obviously I don't.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Purpose of My Life

The purpose of my life is . . .

I used to think it to be a success; have money; have recognition; and this one is the scariest to admit - TO BE LOVED.

Hmmmmm . . . .

I am thinking about the "to be loved" part. I am writing free flow right now. I am letting my thoughts come through the typing. It doesn't work for me as well as "just writing in a notebook." I have to think where the keys are. What makes it more difficult is a I got a new laptop at work and going back and forth between the two laptops is making my typing a little fumbled.

Back to recovery.

I guess this might be true. Money is to take care of my self and feel secure. Recognition is to feel like I am worthy and worthwhile.

But I am changing. I can feel it but recently, with work, and the fact that maybe I have gone out with a "woman friend" with some other people. I will use "date" for shorthand. With the "date" thing - I feel I cannot be myself totally. I have to "entertain" - by being funny and interesting with the opposite sex and smart and experienced at work.

I am funny - sometimes. It is just hard to be funny non-stop. Maybe the word is "fun."

Regarding smart at work - well, I know my business. But as a manager, I have to coach and "cross boundaries" and get people to do things differently - because what they are doing is not working.

These two things are - I am afraid - keeping me from my true purpose - or what I believe my true purpose is today.

My true purpose is - and this is because of Al-Anon - to experience as many "highs" as possible. AND - if possible - stay consistently high.

To me, high is being is harmony with life, my inner thoughts, and my outer actions and behaviors. It means living the truth about me and who I am and what I believe in. Telling the truth about how I feel and what I want and frankly . . . I like seeing others laugh and seeing/hearing me laugh too.

Something about a good laugh. And at least a smile.

I am having a problem with a little couple of "white lies" I have told at work and on a date. I cannot tell about my wife's issue, and my "issues" - I am in recovery. While I don't drink, tonight I have to go out with a new boss and new colleagues for dinner. And they are going to drink. I was told this at the office the other day - "Expect a lot of drinking."

When I told my "date" this the other night and she said, "Pour a glass of coke and pretend you are drinking too." She meant no harm, but I prefer not to do this. So I heard her answer and I regret - frankly - opening up and revealing a part of me to someone else. I feel exposed. I sense, and feel, a little judged.

I prefer to tell people tonight, "No thanks. I am not drinking." And, frankly, go home around 9PM - at the very latest. Because the longer I stay out, the more exposed I am going to become to these "new people." They will drink. There guards will be down, and they will ask questions. I am worried. That's what I am, that they will cross boundaries and try to expose parts of me I am unwilling to expose. Hell, I don't even want to expose certain parts of me to me.

Also - my "date" the other night asked me how old I was. I danced around this several times. Why did I do that? Because I was trying to be funny. My answer was, "Between 17 and 75." She couldn't leave that alone. I said, "Okay, 17. Your a molester." That got a good laugh. But she pressed. I danced around it - why? I felt like I was being exposed again. I thought it was a "boundary crossing" question. But why? She was just trying to find out a "normal" item between two people. My dancing around the question made the question even more important.

Just before I revealed the "truth" about my age - she tried to guess. She thought I was about 8 years younger than I was. I don't think she was trying to "make me feel good" because I could tell she was not believing the truth when I told her. Is this good or bad? I am in pretty good shape. And I have all my teeth. I even have a pimple or two once in a while.

But still this bothers me. In fact, this dating question bothers me more than work stuff.

I am also afraid of becoming "enmeshed" again. I don't want to date someone and become dependent upon their feelings affecting how I react or feel about them.

I can almost feel my insecurities coming up - wanting to tell this person - we should probably not go out again. The enmeshment part bothers me. If I don't date - I know I cannot become enmeshed.

Back to the purpose of this post - the purpose of my life: These little "normal day-to-day" things are speed bumps (or roadblocks) to my purpose - trying to be in harmony with life stuff and/or be serene or have serenity.

I just realized - I am not living in moment. I am projecting ahead. These are my thoughts: will tonight be a pain? And will I reveal too much about myself? And the other with dating; will I be accepted?

Okay. If I remember not to run too far into the future. If I can remember I have a Higher Power who loves and accepts me no matter what. If I can remember to "Live one day at a time, one hour at a time, one minute at a time . . . " I will stay centered and in the Present.

I am breathing a little deeper now.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Emotional Dependency

I am reading about emotional dependency this morning. Yep. Me. Emotional dependency. If you met me you'd say, "He wrote that?! Are you friggin' kidding me?"

Yep. Me.

Here is what is ringing in my ears;

Emotional dependency comes from our need to right and our need for approval. It comes out our need to feel loved and the need to be taken care of.

I consider myself to be "self-reliant." Hmmmm . . . Am I?

I crossed myself up with the thoughts of being "rich" or "well-off" with "self-reliant." When I read Emerson's essay on Self Reliance I read it from the stand point of money. I probably need to go back to it and read it with some different eye-glasses this time.

Here's what else I am reading regarding emotional dependency;

Tension arises when we want something from someone else.

If I think about it this is true. If I want recognition for my work at the office, I can feel the tension. If they don't recognize me or praise me, then I feel this tension of being "dissed" or "forgotten" or "not approved."

What if I knew I was loved? What if I knew that no matter what, I was approved of? What if I felt this deep in my heart and soul, that no matter what, I would be "okay?"

When I think about these three questions and hold the thoughts and the feelings within me, I feel less tension. I breath deeper. In fact, I am breathing deeper as I type this sentence, since I just typed those three questions.

What if you wrote these questions out in your journal? (By the way; GET A JOURNAL!!!).

Well, try it and see. Hold the thought in your mind. Write the questions out again. What if . . .

Then respond to the questions; I would feel this way about myself. I would act this way toward others. I would not look to others for their approval or best - their opinion of my work or me.

Funny. I just wrote something in that last sentence; "their opinion of my work." I know this is wrong but I do it. I transfer "me" and my self-worth with my work or more truthfully, how others deem my work. I knew this before. But this morning it strikes me differently. Maybe it rings deeper in my head as being ridiculous.

What I know today and I am working on is that the answers to these questions for me involve my Higher Power. If my HP approves of me DEEPLY and if I truly feel this, I feel better about me. Same with the other questions. When I feel my HP is there, then I feel better. I know, I will be okay no matter what happens. My HP works, as long I give faith. I wrote "give" not "have." That is interesting . . . Hmmmmm again.

New Topic - Sort of . . .
I have heard in Al-Anon people saying "I always find people who are 'emotionally unavailable.'" Interesting statement. I think because the term "emotionally unavailable" sounds clever, we mistake that this is a correct statement then. Just because it sounds clever - does not make it right. Now here is where I am in boundaries bordering areas where I have no clue of what I am talking about - but here it goes . . .

What if . . . the "emotionally unavailable" is our issue? What if they are not supposed to give us "our emotional satisfaction" and that in fact, that this is healthy? What if we did find someone who was "emotionally available" and what if in reality - that this meant we got our supposed "self-worth" from them? I think this would be in fact, slipping out of recovery and into "emotional dependency" and therefore - MAYBE - this person IS right for us, it's just that they are different than people we "dated" or "hung around with" before. And that MAYBE, it is us that needs to change and realize that this is part of our recovery . . .? I put a question mark there because I do not know if this is true or not or accurate or not. But I am going to think about this today and throw this out in an Al-Anon meeting soon to see what I hear back.

Just because it is a clever saying - don't accept it as true - is all I can say that I know is true!

And - I am not saying "Hang out with people who make you feel like crap." I am saying, "Hang out with people who allow you to be you. Hang out with people that do not judge you or others. Hang out with people who allow you to pick up your own shit. Hang out with people that want to encourage you to grow - be you - and have a program."

That's all for today. Keep the faith. Hope for Today. Faith in the future. We are ALL going to alright.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

"That's weird."

Okay. This may not be the place for this. But, hey, it's my story and it is a little interesting.

I went out the other night. Without too much detail, I had dinner with a woman. Yep.

So, she orders a glass of wine. Red wine. A Cabernet (is that supposed to capitalized?).

I order my drink. A big glass of ice water. With lemon. I sometimes order two. At the same time. I was trying to impress, so I only ordered one. I order two when I have been out for a run a few hours before any dinner to save the waiter/waitress the time going back and forth refilling my glass (a true Al-Anoner aren't I? Thinking of the waiter!).

So, this woman says, "Aren't you going to have a drink?"

I say, "Nope. I don't drink."

She says, "Why is that?"

I say, "I stopped about a year and half ago. I saw what it has done to some people that have become addicted to alcohol, and I didn't want to take the chance of it affecting me."

She says, "Do you have a problem drinking?"

I say, "Nope. Just don't want to drink."

She says, "That's weird."

In truth, she may have said, "You're weird." And in truth, she's right. I am weird. I have idiosyncrasies all over the place.

This is not the first time this has happened to me. Not the being called "You're weird" thing - but that has happened to me before too.

A few weeks ago, in Chicago, I was out to dinner with a group of business people who were looking at the wine list. They picked something expensive to drink and expense (which I have always had a problem with - the drinking an expensive bottle of wine and expensing it thing. I always felt like I was ripping off the company).

Anyway, the wine was brought over and the waiter/wine pourer guy, started his pouring job. I said, "No thanks."

One guy asked me after the second round, or second bottle, "Why don't you drink?" My reply was, "I stopped drinking about a year and half ago. It made me sluggish. And I didn't like the feeling the next day." This started a whole conversation on drinking and the effects of red wine versus white wine, versus drinking mixed drinks versus beer.

A few weeks before that, I went to dinner with a few friends and this lady sat across from me. She saw I wasn't drinking and offered me a sip of her beer. I have no idea why, although we were joking around with each other.

I said "No thanks."

She asked, "Don't you like beer?"

I said, (it was right before the Olympics), "I am in training for the Olympics. And I need to maintain a regimen of high calibre liquids."

She replied, "Oh really? Which event are you training for?" (She was definitely serious)

I replied, "Boxing. I am a boxer. And I am going over to Beijing for the boxing events and if possible a Boxer Rebellion Reunion ceremony."

I don't think my humor was catching on to her. But the guy next to her was starting in. He said, "Oh yes. How is the boxing training coming along?"

I said, "Good. But I misplaced my Gold Medal from the 2004 Olympics."

It was funny to me. Now, granted, if I have a glass of wine, beer or Scotch, it would have been in all likelihood a whole lot funnier.

I am now at a loss for making the excuse as to why I don't drink - that is, I can no longer use the Olympics as an excuse or reason as to why I don't drink any more.

I am being pressured by old friends saying, "Joe, you don't have a problem."

I make a lot of people VERY uncomfortable that I don't drink. And I of course, go out of my way saying it's perfectly okay for you to drink. It doesn't bother me if you do.

I stopped drinking when my soon to be ex-wife and I went to therapy and he asked her if she had a problem drinking. She of course said, "No, not I." He said, "Try not drinking for six weeks." In my Al-Anoner way, I said, I would stop drinking - to show my luv and support."

I thought she would blow right through the six weeks without a drop - proving that she was right although I knew she had a problem!!! It bothered me that it was only a six week test. It needed to be longer. I was wrong. Second day - she was drinking.

I - however - stopped.

I "kept it stopped" when my wife went to rehab and I heard a lady say this in the rehab center and it scared the crud out of me. If you get nothing else from this blog ever - this is probably the most defining thing I have learned about alcohol and it being cunning and baffling and how it still scares me.

It was when she said this:

"My father was an alcoholic. I married an alcoholic. I divorced him and remarried. My second husband became an alcoholic. I divorced again. Then my son became an alcoholic. I am, now 52 (she looked 72), and now here I am. In rehab. And I am the alcoholic.

I said, to myself, "Holy SHIT!!"

I asked the rehab counsellor "how this could happen?" He (a member of AA himself) "I don't know."

I asked, "Could this alcoholic button switch on for me too at some age?"

He said, "I don't know."

I said, "Should I keep off the alcohol?"

He said, "I don't know."

"Damn", I thought. I don't want this to happen to me. So, I stopped.

That's my story. Albeit - a long one.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Random Thoughts

Here are some random thoughts. Some of these quotes came directly from Al-Anon meetings this past week.

  • "It will either work out . . . Or . . . It will work out." I love this quote. It is the ultimate to Steps 1, 2 and 3. It is NOT an Al-Anon slogan
  • "Figuring things out, is not an Al-Anon slogan." In other words, we don't have to figure something out, why someone acts a certain way or what they think, etc. It is letting go!
  • When we where a certain smile, act a certain way, we maybe do this to please others. We need to examine this. If it impacts us or suppresses us . . . and it almost certainly does, it may not be good for us.
  • Sometimes we set up "little Gods" in our lives, and they become authority figures for us. We tend to "look up" to them, and secretly seek out their approval, by telling them what they want to hear, trying to behave and speak a certain way and/or wonder what they want or think about us.
  • Remember: What we do and what we have is separate from what we are inside.
  • We think if we do enough, have enough and get enough, we will be OK (or whole, complete, perfect). But we are already OK. We are already whole, complete and perfect - because of our HP.
  • "We are perfect" (spiritually if you really have a problem with this statement). However what we do may not always be perfect.

Have a good day.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Getting Approval

Day before yesterday, my soon to be ex-wife and I were supposedly talking about finances - actually taxes.

She began blaming me for the divorce and actually started accusing me of making her drink. She went on to citing an example of me trying to create stress that would cause her to drink.

I listened and my defensiveness started to rise. But another part of my disease, the desire to seek approval and be deemed as "worthy" and "nice" and "good" also kicked in.

In my disease - I want to be "accepted" and deemed "a good person." In my heart, most of the time, I know I am a nice/good guy. I know intellectually that I do not need to be "accepted." But old habits are hard to break.

As my wife went on a rage on the phone with me, I was pretty calm - a surprising thing as I type this to you. In the past, I would have raged back - I think. But still, I tried to interrupt and tell her she was putting perceptions of what occurred and making them facts in her mind. I tried several times to tell her that I did not do those specific things and certainly did not do them with the intention to drive her to drink. (This is the first thing I did that I didn't have to do)

I told her - then and there - that this is part of the disease, blaming someone else and not accepting responsibility. (This is the second thing I did that I didn't have to do).

She hung up the phone.

In my disease, I was now hooked. So I called her back. I was getting obsessed with fixing this wrong perception and trying to show that I am OK (not right - I am 99% sure I wasn't trying to be right).

We spoke briefly and she hung up. It was like she knew she had me.

I - of course - redialed. She did not pick up and I left a message on the answering machine.

I started to call her cell phone, when the program kicked in. It said, "You are obsessed. Stop. You are trying to gain acceptance from someone who can't give it. Second and more importantly, you don't need it - you are already accepted and okay."

But there was an anger underneath the surface too. So the program kicked in again and said, "Call your sponsor."

So I called my sponsor. As soon as I started telling him what had happened, I was laughing at my behavior.

I get hooked each time by not getting some one's approval. Maybe not always. But it is there - right under the surface.

Damn. I want to be liked by everyone and thought highly of. Well, at least I recognize it and I have a program!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Random Thoughts

Random Thoughts are being posted here today. I decided a while ago that sometimes statements without explanation may be a good way to get and achieve serenity.

Here are some random thoughts and statements I have pulled from one of the books I am reading - that I believe can be aligned to Step 1 - Being Powerless and Unmanageable.

Here they are;

  • Don't minimize preparation or the importance of believing in your abilities. Lack of faith in yourself, manifested by the inclination to minimize your abilities, accounts for the difference between capability and performance.
  • By relaxing and controlling nothing but yourself, you can deal with the most complex situations.
  • Problems arise when you seek specific results by trying to control and manipulate others.
  • Thoughts precede events. In fact, events are panted in advance in thoughts.
  • Explaining circumstances as results of your own thoughts, rather than saying they are due to fate or outside forces, reduces dependency and gives you options to change your life.
  • To overcome difficulties, you need only concentrate in what you have done that may have brought about specific events.
  • Only effort will increase your strength and awareness of your potential. In time, you may realize that your impact on the world often derives not from what you do but from what you don't do.
  • You maximize your capacity to influence the world around you by gaining awareness and control of your automatic responses to the demands of others.. By delaying your responses, you can consciously decide how you will act. Action, not reaction, becomes the secret of success.
  • Concentrate on the resources you have, not on what you don't have or lack, in order to develop your potential and talents.
  • Learn to trust your intuition and follow you hunches.
  • Only you hold and have the answer to the meaning of your life. You need not seek solutions from others in matters where you and only you may have the answer.
  • Don't assume others have better qualifications to determine your objectives.
  • Study and preparation helps you by making you more aware of what is happening and how you are consciously and unconsciously perceive the world.

Have a great day and peace to you today.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Increasing Our Dependence On Others

Dependence, Self-Reliance, Opinions of others, Focusing outside ourselves

In my recovery, looking back, I have seen how I increasingly depended upon others opinions and feelings about issues, and frankly about me. I fell into a trap. I was stuck. I did not know what to do.

Now, here comes my ego. I am - not a dependent person - as I say this (write this) - I wonder if this is really true. In my business life, I have run consulting organizations with 300 and 400 people nationally. BFD! BTW. (translated - it is BIG F Deal, by the way).

I write this only because I see how this disease has tricked me into thinking "I am less than." Hell - f' n - O. Is anyone home? My head went into overdrive, into thinking "I was wrong." My perceptions were right - but because the disease is so strong - I lost confidence to trust myself. So, I sought out the opinions of others - or worse - I worried about what others thought of me. My self-confidence was at an all time low.

Now, I am regaining ground.

With this disease, I want to write about what I read this morning. It comes from Ari Kiev - and it is not about alcoholism and its effects. But it is about dependence and self-reliance.

"The increase population and an apparent scarcity of the jobs, residences and rewards, which creates a vicious cycle of increasing dependence on the opinions of others. Stop accepting the necessity of obtaining the things you feel you must have. Th moment you begin to live below your means or at a level where you can maintain control over your life without economic dependency and insecurity, that moment you gain personal freedom.

Don't discuss your decisions to change with anyone who has an inclination to resist change. He will prove insensitive to our desire. Even listening to the "experts" may weaken your courage to act. This would attest only to your suggestibility; it would not mean that your original decision was invalid. Sounding out others for reassurance does not eliminate anxiety of decision-making. In fact, if you discuss crucial matter with unqualified people, you may create more anxiety and confusion for yourself. You have added their uncertainty to your own."

Interesting thought for me this morning. With alcoholism, I was more uncertain. Well-meaning people gave me advice. They gave me looks too, - that I interpreted as positive or negative and this made me more uncertain.

And now with the economy a little crazy right now, it is easy for us (me) to become more worried and more uncertain.

I need to remember:
Focus on myself
Control what I can control
Let go of what I cannot control
Turn over what I cannot to my Higher Power
Have Faith. Hope for today. Faith for tomorrow.