But seriously, I went to an amazing meeting this morning. And it wasn’t just because it was called the Sunday morning Amazing Grace Al-Anon meeting, either. We read from today’s reading in Hope for Today, and what I heard most of all was about letting go.
Boy, do I need to let go. I’ve been ashamed to talk about this here, but since I talked with my sponsor and with my friend Sherrie, who guest posted here and writes here, at Sherrie Theriault’s Blog, I feel better. My uber sponsor bolstered my spirits by speaking of a few small resentments she had rattling around in her head.
But what was most important was what Sherrie did. First, she made me laugh. Laughter is very important for the soul. 2. She let me know that I have a double standard, one for myself and one for everybody else, and I’m much harder an myself. 3. That resentments sometimes have layers, and if my sister just stopped drinking seven months ago, it’s not surprising I still have resentment left; and 4. That it’s okay, even good to let readers know other seasons of your soul. You need to know that there was a whole season I did not go to meetings. More importantly, you needed to hear from me during that time, that I was still here, what I was doing, how I was doing, so that you too could read and perhaps say, “Oh yes, that’s me.” or “Gosh, I don’t ever want to go there.”
It was great to see my sponsor. We hadn’t seen each other in a while, what with one thing and another, and we just held each other for the longest time. “Look at you!” she said. “Look at you!” said I. We made a time to get together on Wednesday.
I’m not often speechless. It’s not usually hard for me to know what to say, but writing in this blog has been so hard for me lately, and that’s not like me. It’s like I feel like I’m supposed to have the “answers,” as if 1) there are certain answers one has to follow as a member of Al-Anon and 2) I know them.
Let’s get a couple things squared away. The only “answers” I really know in Al-Anon are told to me (either through the other members, the big book of Al-Anon, my sponsor, whatever) by my higher power. And what I don’t know will be revealed in time. I trust that. I trust it as easily as I trust the sun to rise every morning and to set every night. There is a God, and it’s not me.
Which brings me to the second part of what I’ve been feeling and why it’s been so hard to write lately. Not only are there certain answers, but I have them. Alcoholic boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse/parent/sibling/friend? Just come to me. I’ll cure what ails you. NOT. So not. What I say on here, what I share on here, on this pithy little blog, is just my own experience, strength and hope. I don’t have the answers anymore than the next guy.
What scares me is when I write posts like “Five Ways to Tell if You’re Codependent,” because it makes it sound like I’m an expert, which – we’ve just just established – I’m really not.
So if you’re here for answers, you’re in the wrong place. If you’re here because you just want to hang with another struggling, trying-to-get-her-act-together codependent, you are so in the right place. And man, can we have some fun. Because my life is anything but boring. I’m worried about two people right now, my mom (who is not an alcoholic) and my sister (who is). More on that tomorrow.
“Patsy, it’s the phone.” He tripped over a blue balloon, caught his hand on the corner of his desk, and landed in the chair, which sent him spinning into the corner. The phone rang again.
“James, the phone!” Patsy rubbed her head where it had collided with James, and paced back and forth, her poodle skirt making quiet swishing noises with every move. Patsy refused to update her wardrobe to the 21st century.
James pulled his chair back toward his desk. The phone rang a third time. He sharpened his pencil and pulled a book open to a fresh, clean page, flattening it with his hand. The phone rang a fourth time. He wrote the date.
James punched the blinking line, the only blinking line on the phone, and picked up the receiver.
“You Matter Crisis Hotline. Can you hold please?” Before waiting for an answer, he put the caller on hold.
James returned to the book. He wrote the day next to the date, looked at his watch and noted the time, and also wrote that down. Then he returned to his call.
“Thank you for holding, and Happy New Year. This is the hotline where you always matter. How may I help you?”
“My girlfriend left me on New Year’s Eve. Said she was reassessing her life and I wasn’t in it. Oh, and my dog died. I don’t see any reason to go on.”
“Can I please have your name, so I know what to call you?” James adjusted his paisley tie and wrote down in his book the phrases “girlfriend left” and “dog died.”
“Fred. My name is Fred. And – And I feel so alone. Everything is meaningless. There’s no point in anything.”
“Well, Fred, things’ll look better in the morning, after a good night’s sleep. That’s what I always say.”
“I’m an insomniac.” Fred’s monotone voice did not deter James from his mission.
“It’s always darkest before the dawn, Fred.”
“What does that even mean?” came the reply over the phone, which now sounded a bit more annoyed than depressed.
“Well, I think it means things are never as bad as they seem, and we should always keep our chin up, buttercup.” James wrote in the book “insomniac, aggressive.”
“She took all my Bruce Springsteen records.” Fred sobbed.
“You were too too good for her, Fred. And there are plenty of other fish in the sea.”
“If I was so great she would have stuck with me. And I don’t want a fish, I want a girlfriend. Do you actually get crisis training?” Fred shouted.
“Everything happens for a reason. Sometimes we just have to look for the reason.” James flipped through the allowed response book and desperately searched for something more to say. He wrote down “girlfriend took Springsteen records.”
“I had the best dog in the world. Snickers. A yellow lab. He used to be able to get bottles of soda for me from the fridge. Do you know how amazing that is?” Fred’s sobs were bordering on hysteria.
“Fred, Fred, you know-you know can always get another dog, just like you can always get more Springsteen records.”
“Oh, oh, dogs are so replaceable, aren’t they?”
“You know, God never gives us more than we can handle, Fred.”
“What?! What the heck does that mean?”
The phone rang.
“Fred, I’m going to have to put you on hold. Your call is very important to us.”
James punched the next line. “You Matter Crisis Line. Can you hold please?”
My blog is participating in the Forward Motion Flash Friday Blog Group, a weekly flash fiction exercise (that I may or may not manage weekly!). Check out the other participating blogs for more flash.
“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated…I hold that, the more helpless a creature, the more entitled it is to protection by [people] from the cruelty of [human kind]”—Mahatma Gandhi
It may seem silly, but I can’t stop thinking about this article I read in our local newspaper about a woman who was convicted of abuse/neglect and causing the death of one animal and abuse/neglect of another. She had two dogs, Angel and Chaos. She starved them both. They were rescued, and upon rescue, it was noted that Angel could barely stand on a body of skin and bones. Despite exhaustive efforts to save her, she died at a veterinarian’s office four days after being found. At autopsy, they found pieces of plastic and denim in Angel’s stomach. She had taken to eating blue jeans to survive.
It’s so trivial. Really. I mean, there are starving children and babies and I can’t get my mind off this article about a woman who starved two dogs. Chaos survived, by the way. It’s just so senseless. I mean, it makes absolutely no sense to keep an animal you can’t afford to feed when there are resources provided for its rescue, care and feeding. Absolutely no one would look down on a person for doing the right thing in this economy for an animal they could no longer afford.
What is wrong with people?
Anyway, it blossomed into an idea for a novel. One person I talked to said he didn’t see how I could possibly get him to care that much for an animal, but a child or a person maybe. I disagree. And maybe he’s not my target audience. I will keep you updated on my progress with the novel. Right now it’s just in planning stages.
Be kind to each other, and yourselves.
Happy New Year! It feels so weird to be saying “Twenty Thirteen” instead of “Two Thousand and Twelve,” but also a lot easier. Although I suppose some people already were saying “Twenty Twelve.” Still, for me it’s something new and amazing.
New years often bring new beginnings, new adaptations, and changes. This blog is going to undergo some radical (as in fun, creative, and revolutionary) changes, and I’m hoping you are able to adapt with me. But I have been unhappy for a while and I couldn’t put my finger on it. I realized I was writing mostly to make you the reader happy. And since I’m codependent – like, to the max – I have to check those sorts of behaviors and head them off at the pass.
The definition of a blog is, first and foremost, an expression of self. To that end, I would like to ask you to suspend all your past notions of what this blog has been about. Just try to clear your mind. Please take on an attitude of curiosity and adaptability.
There will be some changes here. It might take some time to adjust, for both you and me. When I post it will be a post maybe about something I’ve learned at a meeting or from my sponsor, or something that’s happened to me that has caused me to question something in my life, or whatever. Hopefully, what I learn and what I question will also help you. But I can’t be responsible for you. Only you can do that.
Also, Fridays will be for Flash Fiction. That is, every Friday I will post a very short story (1,000 words or less) about anything I want. It’s Flash Fiction Friday! Yay! I hope you will enjoy that as much as I certainly will.
As we have closed out an old year and are embarking on a new year, I have asked myself these six questions, and maybe they will help you as well:
1. What have I done right this past year (in 2012)?
2. What tricky situations did I navigate well?
3. What were my accomplishments—big or small—last year? What worked well for me last year?
4. What attitudes have helped me last year?
5. How did I meet challenges and frustrations in ways that worked?
6. How did I nurture myself?
The answers to these questions may help you see your strengths and give you the courage, motivation, and commitment to reach higher and dig deeper in the upcoming year.