sigh. . . life does indeed go on

2014-05-11 13.12.54So, I’ve been keeping a low profile of sorts for November and steering clear of blogging except for posting the Daily Reflection. Joy’s mother Audrey — my wonderfully cool mother-in-law of the ongoing 28 years — died Sunday, November 2nd at the tender age of 87. She passed on what would have been her late husband’s 91st birthday, and Joy and I told each other through the tears, “What a terrific birthday present for Bob.”

Things are just returning to some semblance of normalcy on the surface, and I guess one of the best things I can do is get back in the saddle with this blogging thing. Lots going on, that for sure, and it’s been interesting to get caught up with all the usual suspects as I slowly work through the gears and get back up to speed.

I’m sure neither of us would have gone through this immediate season unscathed except for prayer, very close, loving friends, and AA. Still a lot of grieving to do as a part of the healing journey, especially for Joy though I certainly include myself, but I am grateful for where we are tonight.

Now, back in the saddle, eh?

 

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depression: six of one, half-dozen of the other?

10377998_10152361766448129_5538421471071534094_nLydia at Don’t Drink and Don’t Drive takes a thoughtful shot at a subject near and dear to my heart and mind: depression as a treatable illness for a chosen few, as opposed to one that is simply a character defect for most. Depending on who one talks to in AA, it is one or the other, but who you open up to and how certainly depends whether you happen to be in a discussion meeting or hunched over a cup of coffee with a fellow struggler.

And of course, Lydia — a staunch supporter of AA — had me at:

As I hope we all know, AA is not an inherently safe place, and people can find someone to say just about anything there.

That being said, it’s good to keep in mind that we’re all a bunch of pros, when it comes right down to where the rubber meets the road, as Lydia points out:

Alcoholics can and do use all of these to manipulate people including doctors and therapists.  They can and do use all of these things to manipulate the people in their lives.  They can and do use these things to avoid sobriety, to avoid work, to obtain drugs, to get or avoid attention.

As one who has been on various anti-depressants much of my life, I would be the first to say I’d rather not take them. I’ve tried. It hasn’t worked too well for me, so this is simply something I’m pretty much resigned to. But she also brings up a question I’ve kicked around for years and have found no satisfactory response:

So, to answer the question, is there a line between the illness and the character defect?  I think there is, but it’s a dotted line, not a solid line (my emphasis – gw).  A person who has the mental illness can still suffer from the character defect, and probably does, as we all do to some degree.  It may be harder for that person to deal with the character defect.

I have found that for me there are seasons when I tend to feel more strongly that depression is a character defect that can be addressed through spiritual, psychological and emotional strategies. Then there are those times when I am convinced beyond any doubt that I must simply resign myself to this state of mind and heart.

Read all of Lydia’s post. Good stuff.

in case you were wondering…

10441929_720433054669694_4416467095143698224_nIt’s not always a plot and they’re not always out to get us. Sometimes it helps when we just admit we still have the capacity to make profoundly bad decisions. Oddly enough, we are not the center of the universe, and our decisions do affect others. Innocent people do get hurt when others make selfish and self-centered decisions.

Yet God holds the issue of choice to be holy, and therefore he will not interrupt our utterly sacred ability to make choices – even when they’re profoundly wrong, even when they’re dangerous, and even when they hurt innocent people.

So please… let’s be careful out there.

man’s best teacher — author unknown

peteydogWisdom seldom falls from high places

The mighty and the splendid have taught me little

I have learned more from a dog I once owned

than from all the great books I have read

The wisdom of my dog is the product of

his inability to conceal his wants

When he yearns to be loved

there is no pouting in the corner

there are no games entitled

“Guess What’s the Matter with Me”

He puts his head on my lap

wags his tail and looks up at me

with kind eyes, waiting to be petted

No professor or teacher ever told me

I might live a more successful life

if I simply asked for love when I need it

that time of the decade

Yesterday was October 11th. It fell on a Saturday. In an even-numbered year. So it was our day to clean house. It was either clean or move. That’s why yesterday was a light posting day. Maybe a little more posting later today. But today’s the Sabbath. This is special, too. So this will likely be a light posting day, as well. But at least we have a clean house.

a little perspective

10622777_723793614324046_8900651639821601128_nBeats me. I don’t recall anyone saying much of anything to me when I showed up at my first meeting almost five years ago. I do recall the non-verbalized smug glances that passed around the room when I gave my lead for the first time. I had no idea it was going to count against me that I had never:

  • slept under a bridge,
  • gone for two weeks in the same clothes without a shower,
  • quaffed the cheapest wine from a paper bag passed around as among the best of friends,
  • slept behind a dumpster after finding my gourmet evening meal there,
  • lost a wife and family (not to mention a home),
  • totaled a car,
  • lost a job, or even
  • gone to jail on a DUI or D&D.

As an aside, I did go to jail once for having long hair, but that’s totally unrelated to this entry. Make no mistake, I know there are plenty of horror stories out there. I come in contact with them on a painfully regular basis. But I wonder if it’s important for the message to come across that you’re welcome here just as you are, rather than, “You know, I’m so much more fucked up than you are. This is what real alcoholism looks like. You haven’t even come close to hitting bottom yet. You just aren’t ready for this yet. You’re gonna treat this like some kind of revolving door. Come back when you just can’t take it anymore.”

Really? In addition to signing the court card, does the secretary need to sign-off on a card saying the below designated individual is hereby officially recognized as having hit proverbial shit fan and is welcomed into Alcoholics Anonymous?

Words of wisdom? I know what not to say.

sometimes i think i forget

10577159_719611681408906_3944110925819016329_n. . . It’s a choice. Everyone is different. Everyone has a different point of no return. We all choose to embrace our healing at a different time, in a different place. None of us have any idea how it will feel, look, sound, or taste. And certainly none of us, big talk notwithstanding, have a freaking clue as to how long this ride on the merry-go-round is going to last.

For me, pretty much the only choice I have the power to make, when all is said and done, is whether I am sincere when I look in the mirror every morning and tell the guy squinting back at me, “I choose not to drink… today.”

 

back in the day. . .

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. . .  this was supposed to be kind of cool, wasn’t it? I mean, I see people sort smirk about this when they get to this part of their lead and everyone around the tables chuckles as they nod their heads knowingly. Am I missing something here? I guess because this is a stripe I never earned, I’m inclined to feel as though I haven’t really paid my dues. Maybe I should go knock over a liquor store or something.

well… that’s a relief.

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Pretty much takes the pressure off. My parents, several psychiatrists and an assortment of sedatives over the years eventually convinced me I was somewhat delusional.  Now I’m at that point where my experience has taught me to never love anybody who treats you as though you’re normal… they’re usually just the hospital staff.

[Added Sept 3rd]: For more on the subject of normalcy being a setting on a dryer, check out this excellent post by rabe76 at I Sleep On My Mom’s Couch.

you mean it’s about more than sobriety? well… yeah.

My_YouthWhen I was in my teens I honestly thought I would be dead by the age of 30. So every now and then, I’m surprised at how long I’ve lived. Or more importantly, how things have changed in the almost 65 years I’ve been hanging around. There have been just so many profound changes in such a short time it just isn’t worth itemizing. And you all know what I’m talking about here. It’s pretty easy to recall the big ones, isn’t it? You know—the ones where you can recall where you were, what you were doing at the moment, the song you were hearing on the radio, the show you were watching on television, who you were with, how you felt. And it never mattered whether these moments were for better or worse.

But I’m at a point in my life where I realize it hasn’t always been the “big” moments that have been life-changing. It hasn’t always been those tangible moments in time that we could set apart by thinking, “If only that had been different…” So where am I going with this? Once upon a time in our American society—when someone was dysfunctional—we didn’t use that word.  We didn’t even know that word, did we?  It’s really sort of a new one.  We might say, you know, “He’s mad” or “She’s out of her mind”, or maybe even “They’re insane.”  But now we have an ever-expanding vocabulary for function and dysfunction.  We have “neurosis” and “psychosis”—i.e. as a Christian, I consider all church-goers to be neurotic and all pastors to be psychotic—so we can distinguish more clearly (hopefully) between groups of people.

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