Some of the time. The one off sleep of some 9 hours became a more regular 4 today. I am happy as I may be. Just for today, I feel some optimism. May it stay awhile.
I know what I need to do, and not necessarily have any wants on my agenda. I was reading the AA just for today card on the video and found a slight variation on the internet from the USA. As AA started in the US, it seems good to share a variation which offers more understanding of the daily plan for living we recovering alcoholics find helpful:
1. Just for today I will try to live through this day only, and not tackle my whole life's problem at once. I can do things for 12 hours that would appal me if I had to keep them up for a lifetime.
2. Just for today I will be happy. This assumes that what Abraham Lincoln said is true, that "folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be" Happiness is from within; it is not a matter of externals.
3. Just for today I will try to adjust myself to what is, and not try to adjust everything to my own desires. I will take my family, my business, and my licks as they come and fit myself to them.
4. Just for today I will take care of my body. I will exercise it, care for it, nourish it, not abuse or neglect it, so that it will be a perfect machine for my bidding.
5. Just for today I will try to strengthen my mind. I will learn something useful. I will not be a mental loafer. I will read something that requires effort, thought, and concentration.
6. Just for today I will exercise my soul in three ways: I will do somebody a good turn and not get found out; I will do at least two things I don't want to do, as William James suggests, just for exercise.
7. Just for today I will be agreeable. I will look as well as I can, dress as becomingly as possible, talk low, act courteously, be liberal with praise, criticize not at all, nor find fault with anything -- and not try to regulate or improve anyone.
8. Just for today I will have a program. I will write down what I expect to do every hour. I may not follow it all exactly, but I will have it. It will eliminate two pests: hurry and indecision.
9. Just for today I will have a quiet half-hour all by myself and relax. In this half-hour sometimes I will thank God, so as to get a better perspective of my life.
10. Just for today I will be unafraid, especially I will not be afraid to be happy, to enjoy what is beautiful, to love, and to believe that those I love, love me.
In my humble opinion, although it may be not so humble to offer one? Just for today I need pack, move and make careful preparation, be happy as can be, see life as it is, real life on lifeís terms and conduct myself as appropriately as my head allows!
August 27th 2006 [all about last year]
Always look on the Bright Side of Life
Iím not sure if I will continue writing posts here. I think they are too long and not easily readable.
Eric Idle and that song, always look on the bright side of life. When seen in the film, The Life of Brian? He was singing the song when he was being crucified. And if I was particularly religious it might have been upsetting. And in my day and with the people I knew, we thought it very funny. I did too, and these days still feel the song has its place, a reminder to find some gratitude in the day, every day.
When a person has been so ground down, that the meaning of living has been lost, its like a catalyst to feel as bad can be. And yet it carries a message as important as any in recovery. We need find gratitude in being here, doing some simple things, keeping a connection going, and trying not to get isolated and into self destructive moods.
A friend of mine sent me this extract on self esteem the other day, she sent it to me to explain what she was teaching her son, he is seven. I wish someone had known more about this in the 1960ís when I was a kid, it might have helped my teachers with me.
"You can't touch it, but it affects how you feel. You can't see it, but it's there when you look at yourself in the mirror. You can't hear it, but it's there every time you talk about yourself. What is this important but mysterious thing? It's your self-esteem!
What Is Self-Esteem?
To understand self-esteem, it helps to break the term into two words. Let's look at the word esteem first. Esteem is a fancy word for thinking that someone or something is important or valuing that person or thing.
And self means, well, yourself! So put the two words together and it's easier to see what self-esteem is. It's how much you value yourself and how important you think you are. It's how you see yourself and how you feel about your achievements.
If you have good self-esteem, you know that you're smart enough to make your own decisions. You value your safety, your feelings, your health - your whole self! Good self-esteem helps you know that every part of you is worth caring for and protecting."
I donít know where this came from, but it seems pretty sound whatever age we are. I knew a lot about helping others with their esteem, it was part of the job I used to do.
I wrote a lot of words yesterday, even before the trains were up and running. I am a bit late this morning, Iíve been watching news and something from channel five I recorded last night when I was out. I sometimes have no appetite to write and then a splurge of words seem to pour out without much trouble.
Iím not sure if I will continue writing posts here. I think they are too long and not easily readable.
Anyway yesterday, I made it to the early meeting of the fellowship. And we were quite a few, even on a bank holiday, nobody in town forgets that we donít have a holiday in recovery. And here we were again. Actually like the day before the speaker turned out to be a substitute as the one agreed was a no show for some reason. The reason never matters as someone will step in, itís a thing we do.
It is a horrible thing to be asked to speak to a group, especially if we are unused to it, or the other way round we had to as part of our living. Its called "doing a chair" in our fellowship, and doing a chair means we speak about our experience, strength and hope. We can accept doing this thing or we can say no, and experience shows us its better when we feel able to say something for a few minutes about ourselves and our history to kick off a discussion and get people talking.
After all, the aim is to get us all talking about recovery, and meetings are there to share what we are and how we are doing. It does get more involved the more we stick around and find the whole thing in AA is to find our path in life, a bridge back to modern living and whatever normal and ordinary may be for us. As well as the meetings we generally hook up with a sponsor and get busy making sense of our lives. The sponsor role overall is to provide a link at any time when things are about to go wrong and to provide some experience when we need some support.
We choose a sponsor when we are ready and have their phone number. itís a loose arrangement and can be ended if we need to and pick another, and it works both ways round. Sponsors generally have been in recovery a while and generally have enough wisdom to keep us focussed when we lose our way or feel pretty low and out of it.
Anyway back to yesterday, it was a good share from our "chair", this person was very sober and getting on with life and work and stuff. And they exuded confidence which comes with years of being sober and having their head back on straight. And as they said our heads can turn to mush pretty quickly when we donít keep close to meetings and keep close to people who have sobriety.
In other words if we go to pubs and sit with people who drink, we will end up drinking. So better to find people and places where there is no drink some of the time, to get balance. We can be out with our friends and family some of the time when they are drinking as long as we also make sure we keep to our sobriety and doing our recovery meetings and "recovery" as well. Yes I thought it is balance. Mind you, I donít go in pubs and avoid all drink related parties still. I know it makes me thirsty and I donít need that at all.
They also have a lot to impart about what it means when we give up our best friend, drink, it means we have a gap. I cannot relay what they said, itís an AA anonymous thing but I can tell how I felt and what I got from it.
What I got was a clearer understanding as I put down the drink and found I had a gap, a massive hole in my living. All the time devoted to drink and all the time spent to feel nothing or oblivion, or more ego centred than having self confidence and esteem. Which is why self esteem is where I started posting my stuff in the first place here on the BBC.
This gap, well it was massive at the end of my drinking days as drinking seemed all I could do.
By the Way
My mother rang me on Friday and asked me to listen to Radio 4 and A. A Gill on Desert Island Discs. A.A. Gill summed up where I had go to when I saw a doctor, and they went through a list of things which make us alcoholics. Like him I scored as high as a man can on the straight down the line classic alcoholic. And like him ended up doing whatever was there to help. He for me is an inspiration, and I enjoyed listening to his journey back to life and sobriety. He is many, many years sober. And his story was just like we get in AA. I have no idea if he ever went to AA, but wherever he learned his stuff to live well, it worked. There are plenty of ways to get sober and keep that way, and some people donít like AA, so thatís ok and I hope they have their way sorted. For me though with all I have learned these past few years, anything works if you work at it and keep on a good path of living. For me AA works. Others will find what works for them and all to the good.
My Mum, She is a chirpy as can be and more eighty than seventy in years, and more sprightly of mind than me a lot of the time. And very proud of me for having got this far into recovering from what usually is a fatal illness, it got my Dad in the end. My Mum and me, we chatted about the programme on the phone afterwards, she is going to buy his books and get the paper he writes in. I am just glad to hear what he had to say and feel good that it is possible to a get a life back. And maybe when I can concentrate and read, Iíll take a look at what he writes, no guarantees though.
I may seem to write a lot, but reading, I lose concentration a lot of the time.
And behind AA of course is a lot of years experience helping the likes of me. Just a fellowship of men and women who have a desire to stop drinking. And being a fellowship, there are no chiefs and just a lot of "fellows". No one is in charge, and we donít get any funding except for us recovering people. So we give what we can, and for me its always a problem as money is always as tight can be. But the fellowship survives. And its not an organisation either, just a bunch of recovering ex drunks a day at a time. Odd donít you think that we are not an organisation and donít belong to anything else? It works better that way, so there is just one primary purpose, to help each other and those with a desire to stop drinking. And stay in recovery. Thatís all.
And that is everything. Because when we are sober we can get on and do most anything. Like ordinary people! For me it is still a challenge, with other things to contend with, but hey, I am not giving up on hope today, and the next day, just this one day at a time.
We have had some new people around and its good to see them coming back. When they share their recent story, its like going back to the time when we first came into the fellowship, and we hear again the pain and hurt and all round loss of self, self confidence and all the things which turn us to drink. Then we know they have come somewhere to find out from us what to do, and we do our best to help.
By the time we may get to AA or hospital, or worse, as we hear again and again, we have become outcasts, unwanted and definitely not wanted by friends and family as we are useless and worse in their company. And we know this all too well. We hate what we have become and we need to find help.
Nature Abhors a Vacuum
Anyway this gap as I mentioned, my thoughts kicked off by our chair person yesterday. It struck me its like this when we stop something, anything we have done habitually for a long time. And we need to fill up with something.
Its like any big gap, we can fill it with rubbish or we can fill it with something worthwhile. If I had not found AA, I suspect Iíd have eventually filled up on more booze or worse and been dead by now.
And luck for me, I was not type 1 diabetic till well into my recovery. I realise if I had still been a drinker my life would have been pretty awful. And actually the AA fellowship somehow prepared me for things to come, be they good things or less than good. So when I was diagnosed with diabetes, the AA programme had made it easier to deal with. Odd really, having got one potential killer disease, I got another one on top. But this day at a time malarkey paid off, and so one day at a time serves me well for both these conditions.
And as our "chair person" proceeded with all the things now achievable through being sober, like working really well and being well respected. All I could hear was great recovery and a person who has got their self esteem. So what a fantastic message!
And you know when I think about it I have done pretty well too, dealing with things day to day. And also dealing with depression. I saw a bit about Spike Milligan on the TV last night too. He was manic depressive, even harder to deal with than my type of depression, but it seems to have the same unpredictable and yet predictable lows. And I realised again what I do to keep as well as I can and do some good. I get help when things are going wrong and seek help as Spike did. Spike used to get himself to a safe place and get support even going to hospital to make sure he was looked after.
I feel that keeping with the AA fellowship is in some way keeping my use of medical facilities at a bare minimum, and stopping me from self harm and worse forms of depression than I have. I keep as close as can be to meetings and being in a community of people who understand what is going on daily. And see a health professional a often as necessary. Not sure about my GP right now, have heard nothing, they may be away on holiday I guess, as a lot of people are.
I still have shame about depression and still feel this worthlessness, that often that I am not worth it. So my esteem is found in helping new people and myself keep to sober living and a better way of life, and of course buddies I have found in the fellowship too. We just help each other by understanding our madness and booze mostly and then living this day at a time thing. There is nothing as bad as being dependent, in essence itís the pits and thatís something to work on in my new book of life.
Sharing at meetings
I did not share in the morning meeting yesterday, I put my hand up to offer my feelings and thoughts and I seemed to be invisible. It felt that way, and I know its bogus thoughts and feelings which come from ego. Coz I wanted to have my say! And of course more people often want to share than there is time. Anyway the good news is I was able to say my thank you to the "chair person" in person afterwards. And I liked them for their honesty and their take on living a good life, and the fact that they took a long time getting back to work, but got there in the end. Which is definitely my hopeÖ
Later this same day
I came back home, I felt very flat in mood, but posted my overnight ramblings here on the Beeb. And I still had a feeling of disconnection which persisted all day. So what did I do? Tried a book, no good, had some lunch, just a little, tried some TV, no good. Went for a walk, till my feet were just too painful, read some news and then went out to a meeting! Blimey am I boring you?
It was good actually, the one I went to is very close, so hobbling in was fine. And there just a few of us there, as most seem to have gone away for the bank holiday. And I got to share my stuff, hear the words of others and make sense of my dislocated feelings. I just felt alone, and thatís pretty normal as most of the time I am.
And as a special treat I went for coffee with a couple of fellows in the programmeÖ We just chatted, watched the rain tumble down and saw the world go by. It was great to be out, see the stormy summery rain splatter and see the world and his wife go by, dodging and brollying it. Do you know what we talked about? Family and friends, what the girlfriend was doing, what it would be like to have a girlfriend, work for those with it, doing work and finding it for those without it, what it means to get a life, and what it means to go to bed sober. Just ordinary stuff.
I felt better connected and went home.
Copyright © Don Oddy