Pride and Control

There is a little Napoleon that lives inside of me.

Napoleanna.

 The incident in second grade is as vivid for me as if it happened yesterday.  By the teacher’s reaction, I knew that my behavior was inappropriate but I didn’t know why.  She never explained, at least to me, and I was left feeling confused and unsettled.  I don’t think she ever contacted my mother; the “problem” was never mentioned.  Although on second thought, parenting was low on the list of priorities.  We were feral children.

And so it remained for me to figure out.

It’s taken a very long time.

On the day to which I’m referring, I was assigned to the “safety patrol”.  The duty included keeping everyone quiet and orderly as we waited for the bus to take us home.  Once the bus arrived, everyone was to walk single file to get aboard.  And to do it quietly.  No talking or, God forbid, laughing or joking.  Complete silence.  We’re talking second grade here.  Probably about 25 to 30 little bundles of light and energy.

Well, I just began pulling kids out of line right and left and ordering (shouting?) others to “Be quiet!”.  “Shut up!” was often a favorite saying in my family of dysfunction so it wouldn’t surprise me if that’s what came out.  It was only a matter of moments before I was stripped of power and left awkwardly dazed on the sidelines.

Now anyone who knows me, knows I take my responsibilities most seriously.  Some might say overly so. It was as inherent to my nature then as it now.  They also know I’m a very black and white thinking type of gal.  A good portion of my “work” has been to allow  those shades of gray and other colors entrance into my thought processes.

Rigid is not good.

Not in body and not in mind.

Everything in nature needs to bend.  Needs to be yielding and flexible to survive.

This theme of pride, control and rigidity has run in and out of my life creating havoc whenever I was riding its wave.  The good news is that I really think I’m working it out.

 The stronghold.  The blind spot.  What I haven’t been able to see about myself.

There are things we know and there are things we know we don’t know.  For example, I know that I know how to cook.  I also know that I don’t know how to speak Spanish.

But… most important to learn are the things we don’t know that we don’t know.

This is not a typo.  It’s a saying I first heard way back in my self-help days at a Landmark Forum.  A kinder, gentler version of E.S.T.

 Much of my soul-searching has been like this:  sometimes when I gaze up at the night sky I can see a star off to the side in my peripheral vision. But the moment I turn to look directly at it, it disappears.  Gone.

It’s become more important than ever that I learn how to lead without dictatorship.  To direct others with the understanding they are not me and may have their own way of accomplishing a task.  And to offer correction with respect and dignity.

To love those around me as I would love myself.

My new position is challenging me to stay self-aware but with the focus on others.  A challenge that is only happening because of my sobriety.

Today I turn 62.  Today I am sober.

Today I have 117 days by His amazing grace.

It’s been a long tunnel.

I can see the light.

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Holding Strong

I’ve made it through two holidays in 11 weeks.  Building that sober muscle for what’s to come.

Spent some time yesterday morning with a relatively new friend.  A year ago, when we were  initially talking about getting together, she had just moved in to her new home a few blocks from me.  She had mentioned that she made “great” cocktails.

Of course being me,  I gently tucked that bit of info away (with excitement and anticipation) and kept silent as to my struggle with alcohol.  I most certainly didn’t want to go burnin’ any bridges.

In one of my last posts I mentioned my need for honesty if I was to remain sober.  This was exactly the type of situation to which I had referred.

Time to sing a new song.  To respond differently.  Time to decide what I really and truly wanted.

So yesterday I told her.

I didn’t share horrid details but enough so that now she knows.

I feel stronger for it.

Integrity is very important to me.  In myself and in those I choose to spend time with.  My integrity is in the process of rebuilding itself;  within myself and with those around me.  That’s what feels strong.

Healing.

I have been on the fence about my sobriety for many years.  On  again, off again sobriety.  Mostly off.  I was commitment phobic.  Double-minded.

Actually,  I was just another alcoholic not wanting to be an alcoholic.

My grand finale 11 weeks ago hit me where it hurts most of us the hardest; in the arena of pride.  Self image.  What others see.  Really see about us and in us.

I’ve been praying to see myself as I really am… not how I envision myself or would like to be.

It is good to be sober.  Thanks be to God.

 

 

One Year for WTW; 2 Months For Me

Today marks one year since I began this blogging journey.  With a desire and hope. Although I had put down the glass countless times in the past 22 years, this was not the half-hearted effort I so often made.

I began it with Belle’s 100 day Sober Challenge.  I made it but then the holidays happened.  Along with the denial.

Moments of clarity followed by dissent.  More rebellion.

January 1, 1986 was my first honest effort at sobriety and I remained for 9 years.  August 15th of last year was my second.  I remained for 100 days.  June 20 of this year is my third.  I have 2 months.

Since meeting the 100 day mark two days before Thanksgiving last year this is my longest stretch without the wine.

My life today is unrecognizable from what is was just 2 months ago.  At that time I was hiding away in misery with a job I despised and a boss/owner that was just downright  nasty and unappreciative.  I was also mourning the (perceived) loss of my dear and most trusted companion to marriage and I was racking up thousands of dollars in dental bills.

Today I am sober.  I am working full-time at a job I wake up excited to get to.  I have been hugged and kissed and told how happy “they” are to have me back and how much I’ve been missed.  “They” being my former health food store customers.  Today I am overjoyed for my friend and his engagement.  Why shouldn’t I be?  We have been praying for each other for many years for this exact blessing.  I still have the dental bills but they will be paid eventually.  I know that whatever the Lord has for me in my future will be perfect.  It always is.  He can even turn the garbage I create into gold….if I am willing to participate.  To do my part.  To not lose hope.  To ask for forgiveness and to forgive.  Myself included.  Myself especially.

And then get out of His way.

A customer from the cheese shop stopped in and handed me a card.  He wrote:

“Dear Elizabeth,  I was saddened to learn that you were no longer at the cheese shop but happy to know that you’ve returned to your old position at the natural food store.  However, I must say without your smiling face and cheerful outlook, shopping there is just not the same.  I suspect I am not the only one who misses you but we all wish you well!”  Fondest Regards,  Toby

I am so undeserving and unworthy of all the Lord has blessed me with.  But He knows my heart and He is a merciful God eager to bestow His grace on those who love Him and seek to do His will.

Before coming to faith in Christ, I always thought of His will as confining, limiting, boring and uncool.

It isn’t.

It is my own will that is all of those things.  It only breeds sorrow and destruction.

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”    Philippians 4:7

 This peace that passes all understanding is mine if and only if I choose to remain sober.  A lasting peace that remains even during life’s storms.

I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for Him and this sober community.  I thank everyone for their patience in bearing witness to my moments of idiocy and support for my (rare) moments of clarity.

Prayers gratefully accepted.

 

 

 

 

She Lived…

“She lived without much thought for the future. She made do with what she had, enjoyed her friends and always lived a notch or two this side of too much hope.
 Those who knew her would describe her as happy more than not, but because her interests were moderate in a world gone mad with desire, they for the most part, considered her strangely out of step with reality.”….Richard  Stein  

paul-apalkin-invasion-aka-broken-mirror-2012 (1)

      I’ve been reading quite a bit lately here in the blogosphere about the feeling of not fitting in.  I came across this quote in my mid twenties and it just hit home.

7 weeks by the grace of God.     

 

Image credit: Paul Apalkin, Invasion, 2012

Coming Out

I am trying something new.

I truly believe that anonymity is over rated.  Especially these days.  And especially for me.

And I know that it (or how I’ve used it) has kept me from recovery.  In a huge way.  There is something about speaking the truth.  As long as I held back this information, it kept me from fully accepting this aspect of myself.  I was using anonymity.  A lack of integrity.

Integrity: having moral or ethical convictions and doing the right thing in all circumstances, even if no one is watching you. Having integrity means you are true to yourself and would do nothing that demeans or dishonors you.

 Now that doesn’t mean I have left all discretion to the wind (I wouldn’t tell a prospective employer- at least not in the interview)  but I’ve been examining my own tendencies and reasons for “hiding” my alcoholism.  My main and most cherished excuse from fully accepting who I am and to remain anonymous- what will they think?

Only a small part.  Tiny part as compared to the real reason.

Even in friendships where I knew I would not be judged I withheld.

Why?

The unwillingness to fully commit myself to sobriety.  Bet you more savvy folks knew that was coming.   I wanted a back door.  Just in case. Guess what else?  These were also friendships in which the other may drink but have no issues.  You know.  They can take it or leave it.  But I wanted to reserve the right to take it when we were together and none of the discomfort of having outed myself.  Oh- I take it back. I’m not really…you know…. I’m ok now.   HA!  Busted.

If I wish to have a sober life for whatever time I have remaining in this world then it is time to drop the facade.  Time to own it.  Time to come out.  And really, at this point, I’m not so sure I really give a crap about what others think of me…. a benefit of wisdom or as in my case, age.

Certain things become less important as one grows older… and old.  And other things, things we never much cared or thought about become like gold.

By His power and Grace @ 6 weeks.

 

July 31 – Feast Day of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the Spiritual Exercises and the Twelve Steps   

An amazing connection. Thank you Catholic Alcoholic!

Catholic Alcoholic

Saint-Ignatius-Loyola1I have the book: The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola. I’d tried to read it, study it, and bounce around in it. Then I’d put it away, not ever able to really “get into” it like I’d hoped. I purchased it years ago hoping to get inspiration and understanding about myself and my relationship with God. But the book was over my head.  I couldn’t sustain my interest long enough to really incorporate the exercises into my life in any meaningful way.

I remember thinking, “I wish there was a “Spiritual Exercises” for Dummies book I could read.  I laughed at this thought when I considered that’s basically what the 12 Steps are! Spiritual Exercises for Dummies.

But that didn’t satisfy me either. The 12 Steps were too simplified. And truthfully, they relate only to a small part of the vast Exercises. I wanted the meat of…

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