Thursday, April 30, 2009

Just In: What If . . . ?

In Al-Anon I learn NOT to ask "What if?"

But "what if?"

What if I didn't judge? What if I didn't judge myself? What if I didn't judge others?

What if I could eliminate my judgment of myself and others? What would that look like?


It is a thought that cannot just be read. I really have to feel it. When I do this, I am "released."

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Two Posts Today - How Lucky Can One Get

Two Posts for the Price of One

Yep. Two. Both are for free.

As I sit here - just finished my first post - I am thinking - I am very grateful. I really have no problems. Yes. I am going through a terrible divorce. I never thought I would be part of such a thing. It is one you would read about or hear about how ugly it has gotten.

I share the ugly part with - well - hardly anyone. First my lawyer charges me too much. Second, don't want to worry my mom - and although I am waaaay too old to talk to mom - [I AM NOT one of those guys] - mom is still mom no matter how old you are. My brothers - waay too busy for the drama. And frankly - I hate reliving it.

But - I am grateful. I am so grateful and I woke up counting the amount of stress issues I have;

Economy - yes, my stock portfolio is down. Waaay down. But compared to others, not even close to them.

Job. I am new. Big position -sort of. Need to make a mark. Fortunate. Good things happening here.

Living in a rented house. Expensive. Next to our child's school. Wife has told our child somethings and has overheard mom. Cannot control this. I have to be patient. (Thanks to someone who wrote long comment about who cares what kind of food my child eats right now. Have fun with and let them remember the fun part. These comments resonate and help me)

Divorce. Jeeez. Enuf said.

Strange - my wife's drinking will not make this list.

House. Would like to buy house. Where? Once down and in, hard to change or resell.You'd better like it.

Exercise. Not able to exercise like I was. Stress is slowing me down a bit. Had to keep off running for about a month. Now better. GRATEFUL!!!

I am not ill. I am okay. Things could be a lot worse. I am comparing me to me, by the way.

I have a program. I have a sponsor. Use it, but you'll never lose it.

I can exercise.

I am blessed. Remember this today. How am I remembering my gratitude? It is clear at this second - I recognize I am ........PRESENT!!

Try Six Meetings To See If Al-Anon Is Right For You

Try Six (6) Meetings - Al-Anon - Is Right For You

This morning it is early. I am not sure what I am going to write. I have not been to my meetings like I need to.

In my city I am blessed. There are several meetings a day. I have to drive 20 or 45 minutes - but there are meetings.

I went yesterday and the night before. These meetings vary - widely. One meeting is filled with straights, singles, marrieds and gays. A lot more of the latter. It is strange that I can write this and I am not sure why I am sharing this - but it is this meeting that I like the most.

I think it is the sheer honesty - without masking - that I feel I can reveal what I feel. In other meetings, I still feel compelled to "sound smart" and also, there is this "woman thing," - I want to not be or sound too "goofy" [definitely not the right word] in front of them.

The good news is - I found which meetings work best. The meeting I referred to earlier - and it is because I believe there are more gays there, is my favorite. I think it is also because we sit in a circle - with nothing in between us all. It feels like we have "nothing between us that separates us."

I go to other meetings and we sit around the table. I sit in meetings all day around tables - a conference room table, discussing accounts strategies, and client solutions, with my team at work. So, I guess I am tired of tables.

The meeting with "gays" - gets filled up with straights - and there are newcomers meetings. Funny, [the strange type of funny], I like these meetings a lot because we focus on Steps 1, 2, and 3. And we are always Newcomers. Not just the Newcomers, but I feel we ARE ALWAYS starting over - with a fresh perspective - relearning these Steps 1, 2 and 3, at a deeper level.

In the Newcomers meetings I used to be VERY sensitive to those who were really raw - so new it was there first meeting. I can remember - almost two years ago - crying - yes - really - crying trying to get my wife to stop drinking and driving with children in the car.

OKAY - remember this? You who are new - are you asking; "Why didn't he hide the keys?" - and "Why didn't he force her to stay home?" - And - "How come he could not tell she was drinking?"

Answers -

I did. I did. Really strange - but - I couldn't.

The last part - was - I couldn't tell when she had been drinking. Yes there were signs. I looked too. Looked for the signs; the lips - they were moist and were - well - stiff and yet wobbly?. The walk - a slight stagger - so slight - if you knew her - you thought maybe she was "just off" that day. Her speech - slightly more talk and rapid.

Ooooops. I drifted. I was focusing on her!

The Newcomer - how in the world can you not focus on her????? Are you selfish?

I used to be SOOOO focused on her, that I lost where I stopped and she began. Hard to explain to a Newcomer. Easy now to see it thankfully.

Back to the meetings . . .

It's Saturday this morning, as I write this. There are several Men's Meetings. I like these meetings - SOMETIMES. There is too much testosterone in one. I feel we are all competing. I realize it is ALL probably me competing. I would say I am not very competitive. Others would probably say I am very competitive [not at meetings - probably - mostly at work].

The "shares" at the Men's Meetings are honest. But I feel a sense of "not going to sound smart" and we are all competing to talk. There is never enough time because the meeting is SOOO large.

Plus - I am going to write this - there are no women there. I feel women DO add to the meeting. But it is my ego that "stops" me from revealing my feelings. I feel like they may talk about this guy named "Joe" amongst themselves. But at the same time the women offer a very similar story from a different perspective.

One last thing I will share this morning.

I went back to my "regular" Saturday morning meeting a few weeks ago.

The meeting had changed!!!!

After the speaker story, people shared but commented on the speaker and how much the person had changed, gotten better, AND - offered advice!

I was - well - APPALLED. I shared at this meeting and spoke from the "I" and of course I slightly commented on HOW it was all about me - no matter what happened to the alcoholic - I had to focus on me and my shares had to be from the "I" perspective - not on "Us" or "We" or "you."

In truth - the meeting I loved and that I first went to every Saturday with men and women, had not changed - I was the one that changed. The one that gave me turbo growth was the meeting filled with people who were REALLY following the rules and principles of Al-Anon. Keep the focus on yourself - speak only Al-Anon literature - no commenting etc. The meeting was and is reallllly "tough" on these guidelines. To the point - to where they turned some people off. Certain members have gotten better about stating right out loud "Can you use the word 'I' when sharing please?" and "We try to stick to Al-Anon literature here."

Even in my egoic disease and the progress I have made - these comments would have and still will - send me flying . . . in embarrassment and replaying the event in my head.

Progress, not Perfection
I am blessed. Good things have happened to me - and they are - well - frankly, miracles. I quickly forget where I came from and where I am.

Six meetings. If you are in a large city - try six meetings.

Where I suck is this - I saw my sponsor Thursday night. We sat next to each other. BUT WE HAVE NOT TALKED. I suck. I need to really work my program. I need his help and guidance, because I am living in my head.

Six meetings. Try to do them ALL in a week. But do this for a month. That is my recommendation.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Tell Me Not To Send This

Anger. Yes. I was angry. Today, I am not. How can I be angry and pissed off - and the next day I am not?

What was I angry about? I was angry at being controlled.

But in reality, I was angry at the THOUGHT of being controlled.

Interesting today that I can see that clearly. No one actually controls me. I was in my head. I needed to come out. I needed to vent and release.

The letter/email I wrote to my spouse - was first sent to my lawyer. The email subject line;

"Tell me not to send this."

His 300 dollar response;

"Don't send this."

Wow. Amazing. Thank you for the 300 dollars. Well, all good lawyers will say something more to justify their costs.

So he also said this; "It's too emotional."

Well, that's the third time he has said that to me over the course of my hiring him. So, I didn't send this "emotional email."

Anyway, I began "dwelling" on this reply from my lawyer. A little levity here, please. "Too emotional." Well, that is a pretty stupid response now that I think about it. If you are going through a divorce, is there any "logic" to what people do and say? Especially those of us on both sides of the glass who have been affected by alcohol?

Too emotional. That's pretty stupid from a divorce lawyer.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Today I Am Pissed

Yesterday my child came to stay at my house. My child went to bed the night before, at 9:30PM. My child was dead tired when I called yesterday morning. My child has exams all week - and it was/is an on-going problem where my wife is undisciplined and cannot get herself to put our child to bed at a decent hour.

On-going. We used to fight like hell about this. Our child's eating habits and what time our child would go to bed.

My controlling the uncontrollable. The drug of alcohol is powerful. No one but you dear reader understands how we get swept up in the vortex of emotion and deceit. We are lied to so well, that we believe we are the problem.

The alcoholic can be a crazy nut. Now that I am out of the relationship I am doing much better. But I am still hooked. I am hooked still - but less than I was before because I am not living in the midst of the alcoholic's crazy life. But my child is.

A Guardian (a person appointed by the court to see if the child is protected or abused) cannot understand the vortex of hell in living with an active alcoholic. No one can. It is a bitch. And I (us/you) get sucked in to the contribution of hell. We make it worse to be sure. Al-Anon is a way to get out of the friggin' contributing to the hell.

Except - I still get hooked.

My wife has purposely - I am positive now - forgets to pack our child's "favorite" sleeping pj's. I offer to buy some for my house - but our child wants her "special" clothes.....

So, at 8:50PM after a nice dinner my child gets ready for bed. No PJs.

The little child is tired from the night before. He/she cries. He/She screams. The child calls Mom - and mom of course, is righteous.

She - the mom - is out with AA friends. She says I have to get home by 4PM to pick up our child's pet and clothes and stuffed animals. I work you see - in a bad economy. I switched jobs to not travel. I am new in my role - a high paying role to be sure, but she is forcing me to leave the office - BECAUSE she has a meeting to go to - at 4:30PM and will not be home until 9:30PM.

The alcoholic is manipulative because the disease is so cunning. And I am sucked into the middle of it. I am afraid I will be stuck in it the rest of my life.

I pray this morning for myself. This is seemingly selfish as I write this - but it is true. My anger is high. But I have learned to not trust my anger. It is a reflection of alcoholism - the disease - and what it wants me to do so it can rejoice and justify itself in it's host. It is hiding, lurking, looking for the moment to hook me and make me rage against it. I make it powerful and strong by my rage.

I need to remember this. I make it stronger by my negative, angry reactions to it.

It is trying to win by making me look bad. I will look like the crazy loon. And it can say to its host, "See. I told you it's not me. Let's drink baby! Look everyone, it is true, he is the maniac. I am okay."

Son-of-a-bitch. Now I remember. That's what it is trying to do!!!!!!! Make me the lunatic.

I almost fell for it. You bastard. You will not win if I don't feed you.

PS - I edited this post. I do not edit often. I just write and blah - there it is.

PPS - note the new poll above FOLLOWERS. Yep. I aim to please. Because? I am a people pleaser.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


Eckhart Tolle - The Power of Now - Surrender

Week before last I led a meeting on "Surrender." It was one of the meetings I go that meets every day .... so this time there was no speaker and I volunteered at the last moment.

I opened to the index and saw "Surrender" and read from the book "How Al-Anon Works."

Here's what I wish I would have said;

The ego believes that in your resistance lies strength, whereas in truth resistance cuts you off from Being, the place of true power. Resistance is weakness and fear masquerading as strength. What the ego sees as weakness is your Being in its purity, innocence, and power.

Until you surrender, unconscious role-playing constitutes a large part of human interaction. In surrender, you no longer need ego defenses and false masks. You become very simple, very real. "That's dangerous." says the ego. "You'll get hurt. You'll become vulnerable." What the ego doesn't know, of course, is that only through the letting go of resistance, through becoming vulnerable, can you discover your true and essential vulnerability.

I know this isn't from Al-Anon, but there are a lot of good books, that are so closely related, it is hard not to be impacted and bring fresh perspectives to what I learn in Al-Anon.

I am caught up in my ego. I hear it this morning: "You are weak. You are under attack. You will be diminished."

Do I hear "You will be laughed at?"

Somewhere, way back in the recesses of my mind, I think I truly do hear this. It comes from growing up in a tough neighborhood. Where kids were nasty and would criticize each other - by making fun of their clothes, their family, and their looks. They would gang up - and there would be a "victim." I forgot about this and the dread of walking down to the school bus stop. I was "ranked on" - until I became "cool" which really meant I was no longer "short." I was never cool, but kids eventually left me alone. But I never ranked on others until they ranked on me. I always to took up for the victim, and helped defend him. Interesting now that I recall these episodes when I was about 13 or 14 years old.

I am back to surrender. What peace can I bring forth by letting go?

I am looking for peace. I must let go of the "activity" of looking - and just "let go" to allow it to creep in, slip in, waft in.

I breath deeper now. I need to breath very deeply and feel the breath against my rib cage as I inhale. I feel my rib cage expand as I breath (I am doing this as I type). I notice it is a foreign feeling. I notice I must be holding my breath most of the day. Not good Joseph. Too tight. Stress. Tension. Let go, think not. Breath.

Nothing matters. Everything is going to be Okay. Everything is Okay. Everything is just as it was supposed to be.

It is either going to work out OR it is going to work out.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

E-Mails Suck

No matter what you write, someone will read your email negatively. The reverse is also true. So, emails suck.

I just got an email or series of emails from my "wife" - ex-wife, soon to be, (maybe at this rate , never).

I read them and they were - well, er, nasty, bitchy, accusing, derogatory.

I told my sister about the nastiness of the exchanges. I asked her to read them (of course probably because I needed "validation" and "verification" because my ego still says "be right or be small!").

So I sent them and I asked her a day later - "What did you think about the exchange?"

She said, "I don't see where they are negative?"

I said, "What??!!!? Are you insane (not quite what I said)."

She said, "No. Just see her stating her point." Then I explain why I say them as negative and she said, "Well you have more emotion and you are 'in this' deeper than I am."

I just sort of laughed. Maybe I am in so deep I refuse to see what I should see - reality. What is reality? And is there such a thing? But that is a deep question that is for another time. The point is; Emails suck.

So I got another email this AM. I read it and almost - ALMOST - responded - IMMEDIATELY. The little guys in my head and body suited up in full body armor and went to battle stations. I felt these soldiers of war running throughout my body and they were in full react mode. Retaliate!!! was the rallying cry. I almost did!

Thirty minutes later I responded in - well - not love - but out of - I think - understanding. I tried not to manipulate, although responding with "kindness or understanding" has a hint of manipulation, because in reality, I am trying to defend myself and get her to peaceful toward me and/or not to react in a violent manner.

So I am a little proud of myself this morning. I did not react. I waited. I made my points. I even used a smiley face - which was probably manipulative too. Anyway, it is sent and how someone reacts or retaliates, is none of my business.

Thank God for Al-Anon. Also, Eckard Tolle. I have him on my iPod and when I went running he kind of lulled me to sleep about the friggin' "pain-body" shit, that I keep forgetting about, that I keep feeding and forget to stay friggin' present. Damn. I need to reprogram myself every DAY.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

A Strange Thing I Do That Helps

Something that I do that REALLY helps me, is I take a great book (non-fiction, self-help, or Al-Anon) and read it with a Yellow Highlighter.

What is different that just normally highlighting the book, is I buy a spiral bound notebook and copy many of the sentences and passages into the notebook.

I started doing this every morning 20 years ago. I started with library books before Barnes and Nobles was on every corner and when Amazon was just a river.

I did this every morning for about an hour or two.

What happened is truly amazing. I started with business books. And what happened over the course of about 3 years was my life, my career took off. I knew more on the subject of business than my peers and my managers recognized I "had something." (maybe a little arrogance)

I did this with self help - from speaking to how your mind works to time management to leadership and management. All this helped me to be positive.

Every morning I would be walking on air. My head was swirling before I went into the office.

I would be so much better in my thinking and so much more control in my thinking about thinking.

My reactions to others would be so much more in check and balance.

But somewhere over the past few months I have gotten away from doing this every morning. I stopped going to bed at 9:30PM.

I started this again this morning. Just grabbing a spiral bound notebook and rewriting passages - and it is truly amazing . . . .

This cheap gift has helped me and my thinking once more. I feel - well - unburdened - enlightened. It is like - how can I explain - like I am light headed - in touch - happier, peaceful, aware, cognizant of my surroundings . . . It's like affirming, and meditating, at the same time as seeking the truth and knowledge of the universe. You become - well - One with your thinking and your HP.

When I travel I do/did the same - whether at Starbucks or McDonald's - again - early in the morning, concentrating, writing or rewriting these sentences, really grasping the meaning behind the words. Amazed that the author could capture the idea and concept so clearly in just a sentence or two.

I urge you to try this. Whether with Al-Anon books or self-help or your profession . . .

I think you will be amazed. By the way, and again - this might seem obsessive - the best notebooks are at Walmart during the time when school comes in. You can buy them for 15 cents a piece by Norcom - 70 pages. Weird that I would know this I know. But what would expect from a person affected by alcoholism? Or is it because I am just weird? Probably weird.

Try this - you will be amazed

Friday, April 10, 2009

Everything's Amazing - Nobody Is Happy

Perspective: Everything is amazing, nobody is happy . . .

True reality. I love it


On Tuesday afternoon I learned that my trial for divorce was postponed. The judge was not going to be in Monday.

Interesting. Relieved on Wednesday. Stressed out on Thursday.

Wait. Wait some more.

It's is a racket. My lawyer is so busy he cannot even recall telling me that he told me things before. I pushed him yesterday as to why I am on the defensive. I filed for divorce because of alcoholism, one of the 6 reasons to get divorced in my state. He said, "That's an interesting position." Then proceeded to get another lawyer on the phone to brainstorm.

I want to scream, "Jesus Christ!!"

What a racket. Both attorneys can make this thing go on forever. Milking it. Now wonder people go broke.

My wife lies. I reviewed her Financial Statement. All of a sudden her savings accounts have gone down. Oh, yes. She writes checks for cash in the amount of $500 every 3 or 4 days. She goes to the ATM, and pulls out $200, or $300. Oh yes, I pay all the bills still.

Okay, I ask God, I know this is to teach me something. You have a plan. And it will all work out.

Thank God - I have a program. I don't always follow it. But I have a program.

Last night I went to a meeting. It was on Stress. Everyone is stressed these days. The number of people out of work is amazing. I see them in meetings. I used to try to help them in the beginning, now it's just too many to help.

For my office, I am looking for a sales exec. But I cannot find one qualified enough. I just hired two in the past two months. We just hired another professional who starts next week. So there are jobs out there. I thought I would write this part for inspiration to those who may be impacted by the economy.

This is a time to work hard on the program. To learn patience. To not rush and push things. God's time. Patience dear Joseph - is my mantra.

Monday, April 6, 2009

I Go To Court Next Monday

Next week I go to court. This week I prepare.

I have tried to mediate, I have prayed and prepared. I have done the "leg work."

Now I turn it over my HP. Where would I be without a program?

For this, I am grateful every day I can remember this.