Sunday, February 20, 2011


Jesus loves me,
this I know
for the Bible
tells me so.
Forty years ago, when I was trained as a Christian educator, the professor said this was a poor song to use with children because there's not a specific place in the Bible where the inquisitive child can be shown, "It says so here." Maybe that's so. Probably not.

I had an anguished email this morning from a friend who said, "I was holding onto the belief that I could be saved and God was going to save me." She said she prayed day and night for a week. My Dear, God has saved you, is saving you, will save you, holds you always in his loving hand.

There's a story about a Sunday school teacher who spoke with the mother of an animated child. The mother said, "If he's a problem, just spank the child next to him. He's a very sensitive child." Duh! Well, NO! When I was the Director of Christian Education in a church, I was close to a small group of children, working with them making puppets. One was just such an animated child, and I was about to lose all the teachers in the class - 5th grade, I think. I went in and taught for about a month. He knew I loved him. He was a very intelligent child, and we talked about the problem. He quit being such a pain, even after I left the teacher's chair. Love is the answer.

And God knows the answer, made the answer, is the answer. We are all God's children. The email "that I could be saved and God was going to save me" -- you're trying too hard, My Dear. Relax in the loving hand of God and KNOW he loves you, know you are his precious child. God doesn't punish the "bad" and save the "good." God LOVES us. And some of us, in our anguish and self-recrimination, find that being in the presence of such love is hell. God's love is. God is love.

We "Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity." (Step 2.) He was always there. We have to come to him, to come to believe in God, in Love, in Acceptance. God is not a punishing god, a vengeful malevolent being. God is LOVE.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Rigorous Honesty

I'm being nudged toward "honesty" today. For Today tells me "Truth is always the same; honesty changes with my awareness." I picked up Julia Cameron's The Right To Write which I've been reading a paragraph to a page at a time for a heck of a long time in "the reading room." Today she was telling me to do an exercise, sitting down and responding to such open sentences as, "If I weren't to afraid, I'd..." and "What I'd really like to say is..." (those aren't quotes - don't have that book with me.)

I went by a vendor this morning to pick up something they'd prepared for me. It's the first time we'd talked since I retired, and we talked about that - and I found it "necessary" to stick in an unnecessary and unnice comment gratuitously. It was honest. It wasn't pertinent or needed. I got to the office and have all kinds of things I can do and my gut wants to hide, to waste time. Instead, I'm tackling the tasks at hand. Two of the items on my app telling me not to procrastinate today are "Write about recovery" and "Blog on OAStepper" and I'll check both those off with this. And hopefully in the process I'll also discover why I don't want to do the iProcrastinate program, I just want to delete the "i."

"If I let myself admit it, I..." have some resentments and fears raised yesterday. Neither is big. Both are fearsome because they challenge a comfort level for me. The result of the changes is a result I want. Part of me wants the changes. Part of me wants to hide. I will move forward with the positive part, and turn the rest over to God since it has nothing to do with today and that's all I need to concern myself with. That comes across as BS writing which Julia wouldn't appreciate after the chapter I read. But it's honest inside, and it is revealing, and it's freeing so I can move forward with exciting things waiting for me to do today. Tomorrow's not my issue. Good day!

Thursday, February 10, 2011


I should let you know this was written at the suggestion of another, specifically on the subject of fears, sadness and loving myself. While it is very true, reflecting my own feelings, they are not specifically current feelings, so those of you who know me, don't worry about me, okay? I'm FINE. I'm thriving.


Hello, mirrored face.
Can’t find a smile?
I’ll not ask for one. I accept you.
You don’t have to pretend,
don’t have to chant your childhood mantra,
“I’m fine. Just fine.”
You don’t believe it
and honesty opens doors.
If you and I can’t be honest,
who can be? Can people really
tell the truth? The whole truth?
Nothing but the truth?
Say what you mean.
Mean what you say.
Don’t say it mean.
Cute. But doable?

Hello, mirrored face,
furrowed brow. Your fears show.
Who can be afraid of tomorrow,
of years to come when today looms,
ominous, daunting,
a virtual dare.
Fears circumscribe the day,
the people, the faces
waiting for you to shine
or fall on your face.

Hello, mirrored face,
sad eyes echoing years of trying,
years of doing, decades of striving
to please, of looking up begging
like a dog beneath the table,
delighted with a tidbit – gristle's fine,
just see me, toss a crumb of kindness.
Just know I shine more often than
I fall on my face.

Hello, mirrored face.
You know, you have a sweet face —
what did that ticket seller in the bus station
tell the young you all those years ago?
Why not remember the exact words —
with so few kind words to follow?
Oh, for goodness sake.
You know that’s not true. They were there
in spades, but they sloughed off —
you only grasped the bad, the negative,
the put-downs.
That’s subject to edits, you know.
You can hear the praise, let it seep in,
accept it, feel worthy of it. You are,
you know. Worthy. You are.

Hello, mirrored face.
Let’s expect to tick through the tasks
of the day, one by one, amazing others —
you’re used to that. But this time, what about
amazing me? And you. This time let’s know
it’s done well.
Did you know people love you?
How about that package yesterday?
You don’t even remember him, but ten years later,
he knew you, sent you his treasures.
How’s that for affirmation?
Let’s set aside the sadness. You can’t be loved
by someone who can’t love.
You can’t please someone
who can’t be pleased.
You can be loved by the vast majority
of folks you meet, lives you touch.
You’re loved. Heck, even I love you
through my fears, my sadness, my doubts.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

My Rights to Rights

Eleanor Roosevelt said, "Do what you feel in your heart to be right – for you’ll be criticized anyway."

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "Whatever you do, you need courage. Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising that tempt you to believe your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires some of the same courage that a soldier needs. Peace has its victories, but it takes brave men and women to win them."

The weather tonight is expected to be terrible -- rain, then sleet, then snow, then gales. The temperature outside right now is 52F. The temperature inside is colder than frigid. I'd rather not be in the house tomorrow, snowed in. I'd rather not be ignored, belittled, disdained. I did it knowingly. I claimed my rights. At least part of them. One part. And I want to make up for it. WHY? I claimed MY rights.

I read a funny story the other day. An elderly couple died, early in the 20th century, apparently leaving no heirs. A lawyer built a house and claimed ownership by possession. A woman found the heirs and bought the property. He wanted to buy the rights she'd gotten, and she wouldn't sell. He wanted to remove the house he'd built there, and she claimed the improvements went with the real estate. He sued her then said in court she had stolen the house. She said she wasn't as good a thief as he: he'd stolen a whole ranch. They were both fined $25 for contempt of court (in the 1920's when that was real money) but she won the suit.

What does that have to do with what I'm feeling tonight? The woman in the story did the right thing. She stood up for her rights. Evidently she even told the truth about the lawyer, and paid a hefty price for her honesty - in an inappropriate place. I stood up for my rights, legally, morally, fairly. The fact I'd let them go for years with only intermittent protest doesn't make them not my rights.

This is a recovery blog, and what I'm saying doesn't sound very recovered, does it? What does recovery say about it?

Recovery says we stop thinking about people being of different levels of worth, on different tiers of worthiness. It means not thinking we're better than others, but it's also not thinking we're less than others. That's where recovery comes in. It really is mine. I don't have to play the doormat. I don't have to allow him to run rampant over my feelings and my comfort. I have a right to self-respect. And that right is lots harder to claim, for me, than the right to the few feet of real estate I claimed. I would be criticized anyway, of that I'm quite certain. So I need to do what is right, what I'd advise someone else was their right in the situation. And as Emerson said, I must have courage, for I'll be told I'm wrong whether I'm right or wrong, whether I exercise my rights or relinquish them to a bully. Peace does have its victories - but capitulation is not peace. I have a right to be right. I have a right to claim my rights. And I don't have to yield to the fear raised by claiming them.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Yeah, What Chuck Says

I set out in January to read through Chuck C's A New Pair of Glasses. Truth is, I didn't do very well in getting through - like precious little - not did I feel I was fully living the blessings of Recovery in January. Today I picked up the book again, still in the first chapter, and found some things that pull me, touch me, nudge me. Chuck talks about his "bottom" saying "everything dear to me in life was gone, and should be gone, and ... I was not entitled to have it back." (p. 17)

It occurs to me the reason I haven't reached the heights of recovery promised is that I never got to a low enough bottom, and that feels absolutely ridiculous. My Hell Year (basically 1997) began and ended with a son having surgery. (October 1996 and November 1997) Between there I turned 50; my father was hospitalized for seven weeks, some of the weeks on a respirator in ICU, with Adult Respiratory Distress Syndrome. Younger son, because of a slight by a coach and other reasons, chose to graduate at 16. Older son and I went to visit my dad, now home from the hospital, and the pillar of strength was having panic attacks. I was so stressed worrying about son left at home with husband and their proclivity to temper and anger at each other, and about my parents, I severed my rotator cuff in an instant with a mild movement. I had that surgery and wore a brace for twelve weeks. The doctor had said it would be six weeks then at the end of that said he'd known with my weight it would be more. In October I was hospitalized again with a blood clot, then the older son had the November surgery. My solution to all of it was the habitual -- not just habitual -- one of eating. In the spring I weighed 300 pounds. I felt a total failure at marriage, at parenting, at pleasing people, at everything except my job. And I remember looking at another woman who got her job the same way I did, by appealing to the voters, and thought fat women shouldn't run for office. I weighed at least a hundred pounds more than she did. I was a miserable failure.

Was that not rock bottom? Did I have to fail at more? I did start up from there, start taking care of myself. I lost weight and never got back to that point again, though I was still morbidly obese. I worked with a wonderful massage therapist who healed my mind with my body. I sought out counselors, did what I could to take care of myself, but I wasn't fixed.

I didn't come to OA until December of 2006, and I was instantly home. I found the program, I got the program, I got recovery. Then I got lazy. I got complacent. I'd lost enough to be comfortable, mended relationships enough to be amazed, found self-respect I'd abandoned many years before...

So, what else does Chuck say?
  • "From that moment of commitment until right now I've never had a drink or pill. This is one of the reasons I believe so completely and totally that there is only one road block between me and you and me and God, and that's the human ego." (p. 18)
  • He talks about his chair, how he spent years of hell there and years of heaven there after abandoning the human ego and says, "Heaven was always in that chair." (p. 18)
  • "I have the thing I was looking for in the bottle... That king-size hurt is gone." (p. 19)
  • "I'm not fighting me, or you, or life, or God or the devil. I am at peace with me and with you and with my very own God. That's the only reason I'm not drunk." (p. 19)
  • "I have lived in total expectancy of guidance and direction for twenty-nine years, and I get it... 'How do you know?' ... I never had it so good." (p. 20)
  • "Of course, if we want to get real simple, the whole thing will boil down to obsessions of the mind, which is the ego... But if I have to spread this dirty linen out before another human being, if I've got any ego left after that, I haven't done it! That's an ego buster." (p. 21)
  • " and I have to do this without getting too serious about it." (p. 24)
I certainly identify with the fact my ego is the problem. I try to be really honest. I pride myself in being honest...yeah, that's the problem, huh? I am honest when honesty makes me look good, seem righteous, appear to "have it." Then there's the "act as if" and such. And there's the getting too serious about it. I can't WORK this program. I can't structure it. I can't control it. I can follow it. I can show up and take orders. I can abandon ego.

God, help me to act as if I have no ego until it's true. Let me finally release the huge hurt.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Winter of Our Discontent

Shakespeare wrote:
Now is the winter of our discontent
made glorious summer...
and was looking past the winter of discontent, which was in the past, and the "now" was made glorious. It certainly is winter, now. From Texas to New England, we've been socked in by snow since Monday night - well more than 48 hours now. And at least in my corner of Texas, the snow has nowhere near melted, the temperature now, 18F, is about as high as it's gotten, and being alone or - worse? - with family is rubbing raw. I've gotten out twice already for pure stir-craziness. Why would being in the same place since Monday evening seem so confining?

It's not, of course. My home is comfortable, warm enough with plenty of things to do - everything I might need. Well, perhaps I need program people. Certainly I need program people, but they're on my computer screen and the telephone works just fine. So why stir crazy?

They call it a geographic - the impression that just being in another place makes you more content, better into recovery, cures all the problems. It doesn't, of course. Now, changing places or jobs or other aspects of your life can make sense, as long as it's not running away, but my real problem - myself - goes with me everywhere.

The apostle Paul said, "I have learned to be content anywhere I am." I realized a long time ago - in the early 1970s - that I'm basically happy in any town, in any job. But even with that, I'm not happy with me, not with no interaction with anybody but me except through the computer. So, what do I have? I have the tools:
  • a plan of eating
  • sponsorship
  • meetings
  • telephone
  • writing
  • literature
  • anonymity
  • service
  • action plan
I'm using the writing tool now, have already used literature and a plan of eating today, and have the ability to attend a meeting online or by telephone almost any time. Service and sponsorship I'll be doing later in the day. I've got all kinds of tools waiting for me to use. There's no reason for me to stop at "Now is the winter of our discontent" but I can move on to what it is that does make it glorious today, each day, one day at a time.