Freedom

Posted: July 4, 2015 in freedom, Grace
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Yesterday, I met with a friend who was in treatment with me. He’s had a couple of major surgeries and his health is improving but has a hard time walking around. We drove to see another friend. She was working but she took a smoking break and came out to talk to us.

That was what we used to do. They’d get up at the crack of dawn to drink coffee, read the newspaper, and chat. Me? I would sit with them for a little while and then go wake people up to practice yoga. I had a wonderful time talking about life and our mutual friends.

Later that day, I visited the treatment facility where I was about six years ago. I saw a few familiar faces at the open meeting they have there. I introduced myself to a few people, and made new friends.

I saw my old self in the dressed up patient trying to look good for the visitors, putting on a brave face while in the meantime being scared and not even knowing it. This is the place where I learned to start speaking from the heart instead of trying to impress people with my brain. This is where I began to stop thinking that I had to be everything to everybody and that I am only responsible for my behavior. I learned to take responsibility for my actions and stop playing the victim role. And I can still do that most days.

Out of the 40 plus people that were there at the same time, I know one who has stayed sober the whole time and that’s not me. I relapsed five months after leaving treatment and got back into the rooms in March 2010. Four more are sober now but it’s hard to know where the rest of them are.

I try to come to this place once a year to remember how it was and where it can go if I stop working my program of recovery. I shared in a meeting last night that I made the decision six years ago to remain a beginner so that I would never feel like I know it all again. Knowing all was a heavy burden I carried for many years but I have remained free of that burden for over five years. I don’t have to play God anymore and for that, I am grateful.

Prayer Works

Posted: June 27, 2015 in Grief, Hope
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I came home to find a couple of friends waiting for me in their car. I parked and we went in to my place. One of them told me that the other one had been diagnosed with lymphoma. I hadn’t seen him in a couple of days and I was aghast to see how much he had aged and how much weight he had lost.

My friend with cancer could not talk. He stuttered trying to tell me how he was feeling but he was in so much shock that he could barely write his thoughts on a piece of paper.

After much struggling he said he needed to lie down for a little while. In the meantime, my other friend and I went outside so that we could talk about what the doctor had told them. It was not good. We won’t know if chemo is even an option until Wednesday when they can see the rest of the tests.

My friend doesn’t know if he wants to fight the cancer with chemo. The only reason he gave me for doing so was that, “mother would die if one of her children died before her!” My friend’s mother cannot take care of him because she’s got Parkinson’s. He told his sister about having cancer and she told him that she’d come visit him next weekend.

This all happened yesterday. My friend did not even want go to the doctor. My other friend had to force him to go. In my head, I started to blame him for not going to the doctor sooner since we have been telling him for months that he needed to go.

Instead, I just listened to him talk about his fears. I listened to him talk about how maybe after a couple of months of chemo he can start working again. I’m not a doctor but I have seen the effects of chemo on my stepfather and I know that it doesn’t always work. And when it does, it takes a long time to recover.

I hope he gets better. I hope that things work out. Once again, I am powerless. The only thing I have control over is how I react to the situation. My hope is that I remain a good friend and can be there for him.

Father’s Day

Posted: June 21, 2015 in Forgiveness, Recovery
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I hate Father’s day because I feel like I have to call my father and wish him a happy Father’s day. And in my mind, doing this would somehow imply that he was a good father to me. And he wasn’t.

My parents divorced when I was three years old but lived together until my mother remarried. I was eight by then. My mom left their home and I went to live with my maternal grandmother for a while.

I don’t remember him ever making an effort to see me. I would visit him every Sunday to get some money. There were many times that he would not be home. There were many times when I knew he was home, passed out drunk, and not open the door.

He promised me he would help me financially until I graduated from college but he didn’t. In fact, he hid the acceptance letter  that was sen to me from my number one school choice. I found the letter when I was helping him clean his place.

I was perplexed. I could not understand why he would do such a thing. He told me he was afraid I would reject him as my father if I went to that school. This made sense to me but it did not help me feel less betrayed.

I lost touched with him when he moved away. On a rare occasion when I visited him, one of his friends told me that I was a terrible son because I would not call him more often. I told his friend, “You know, phones work both ways.” My father only managed to tell his friend, “Stop. It’s okay.”

Many years have passed since then and I’m still the one who has to go see him or call him but thanks to my program of recovery I can see that he is doing the best he can with what he has. The only memory I have of his father is seeing him passed out drunk on the street. My father lost his mother when he was very young. I cannot imagine what his childhood was like.

So ended up calling him. I wished him a happy Father’s day. We chatted for a bit and then hanged up. And I feel better for it.

Relationships

Posted: June 13, 2015 in Honesty, Sobriety
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Relationships continue to be a struggle for me. I am well liked by my co-workers, management loves me, and the people I work with seem to think I’m good at what I do. Professional life? Check.

I have a good relationship with my sister. We stay connected and I help her with my nephew who is a source of unconditional love for me. He recently called me on my birthday and sang Happy Birthday to me. Nobody had ever done that for me before. I felt so loved. Family life? Check.

Friendships continue to elude me. I know so many people and I get along with them well but I don’t receive invitations to hang out with them. And I know they get together because of social media. I see them going to the movies or having a pool party. Check? Not so much.

Let’s not even talk about dating. I see people with less sobriety than me getting in relationships so why can’t I have that? I say that like sobriety is supposed to provide satisfaction in all areas of my life.

Sometimes I feel like I should settle for somebody who is good looking but has not depth but I know I’d get bored so quickly. Sometimes I think I should settle for somebody who has spiritual and intellectual depth but I’m not attracted to but then I remember I’m too shallow for that.

Why is it so hard to find somebody who is caring, spiritual, good looking, a thinker, and who is madly attracted to me? I don’t know. What I know is that having a significant other is not a requirement to stay sober.

Life is good. I have everything I need. I have a Higher Power that provides everything I need provided I stay close to him. I don’t need a significant other but it would be nice.

Whole and Complete

Posted: June 6, 2015 in Acceptance, Love
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I asked an acquaintance to go out to the movies with me and he said, “Should we ask anyone else in the group if they wanna see the movie?” I replied, “What group? I have no friends!”

I do know many people but the longer I’ve stayed sober, the more I’ve seen people go out and I guess I have not invested the time and effort that takes to make new friendships.

A friend, in my opinion, is somebody who calls, hangs out, and checks on me on a regular basis. I am somebody who is caring and thoughtful so I’ve learned that not everybody is like that and not to be disappointed in people don’t behave like I do but it’s sure hard.

I have couple of coworkers well, one, who I really trust and admire but she is in a relationship and we live so far from each other that socializing outside of work is near damn impossible.

And to bring it back to me, I’m an introvert. I enjoy having people around but after I while I need some solitude to recharge and avoid feeling resentful. I am jealous of those people who can go to a meeting and socialize afterwards for hours and hours. Me? I go to a meeting, I join them to have a bite to eat, and then I’m ready to go home.

So that’s on the friendship level, now asking somebody on a date, no, finding somebody to ask out on a date requires an act of God. I do long for that special someone who understands me and accepts me just as I am but I practice being grateful for what I have instead of focusing on what I don’t.

I remind myself that I can still be happy regardless of whether I’m in a relationship or not, or whether I have one or many friends. Today, I choose to love and approve of myself just as I am. I am complete “as is.”

Grace

Posted: May 24, 2015 in Grace, self-compassion
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I’ve watched my share of friends relapse but I still remember when one of my littermates relapsed. I was angry and sad. Didn’t he know he was supposed to stay sober so that I didn’t have to make new friends? Selfish and self-centered, that is the root of my problems.

When I went to my sponsor with my disappointment he quickly gave me a reality check, “You know that the longer you stay sober, the more you’re going to see people go out, right? You better get used to it!”

He was right. I’ve come to accept that all relationships reach an end, whether is death, people moving away, or relapse. I don’t like it but I’ve learned to enjoy those who stay around instead of focusing on those who have left…me.

And in reality, they have not left me. They have just left. Allowing people to go in and out my life is one of the hardest lessons I’ve had to learn. My instinct is to cling to them and try to rescue them from themselves, to try to fix them. But I have learned that I cannot fix people mostly because there is nothing wrong with them.

They’re wounded in one way or another so today I choose to focus on their goodness, on their strength, and remind them that they are worth of love and belonging regardless of their disease, “We are sick people trying to get better, not bad people trying to be good.”

Mother dear

Posted: May 10, 2015 in Gratitude, Grief
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I woke up this morning thinking that it’s Mother’s day. I tried to remember how old my mom would have been had she been alive today. I was never able to remember her age so I would always add my age to how old she was when she had me, only this time I could not even remember that. This was troubling because she died only three years ago and I felt guilty that I could not figure out her age.

I frantically started looking for a picture to post on social media but I could not find any much less the one I was looking for on my phone. So I went to Facebook and started to look at my pictures and after much searching and many more memories, I found it.

She had to have been 13 years old but she already had a look of sadness and despair in her eyes. She was sexually abused as a young girl and her mother blamed her for it. She was also diagnosed with bipolar disorder much later in life.

She was my mother and she raised me to the best of her ability. She taught me to always do my best, to always put my best foot forward, and that love can be taken away with not much notice. It has taken me many years to unlearn some of the lessons she taught me. She did the best she could with what she had.

I’d like to believe that she is in a better place now. At least she is no longer in pain. The last words I spoke to her were, “I love you and I wish I could be there with you.” She was in the hospital and I could not make it there soon enough. She was gone within a couple of days.

My aunt had her cremated against our wishes but my siblings and I were not there to prevent that. I wish I could visit her tomb but I don’t even know where her ashes are. Yeah, my extended my family is that sick so I have chosen to severe ties with them.

I carry my mother in my heart and today I honor her memory for all that she gave me and for all the things I learned from her. I love you Ma!