Saturday, November 21, 2009

Day 92; Meeting 92: Back at the Ranch

On Monday, I completed my 92nd meeting in 92 days. Pretty awesome though I imagine nothing of a spectacular feat, I'm happy to finish something I set out to do and complete a project as this blog. I think I wrote about that already in my last blog.

I drove back down to the Santa Cruz Mountains last night where Myles is still housesitting. Needless to say, the animals (12 chickens, 4 cats, 1 big droopy dog) have gotten very comfortable with Myles and are now total barking and meowing and crowing hellions. The big daddy cat is in total heat and howled-meowed all night, the dog barked at the massive raccoon trying to get into the chicken coop most of the night which therein caused the rooster to crow most of the night. Amazing. Amazingly little sleep. I finally dug some ear plugs out at around 5:00 in the morning but by then the damage was done and with my meds, I don't fall back to sleep so easy. Oh well. It was nice to go for a walk this morning and I wasn't hardly as cranky as I am most mornings when I get enough sleep. Happy for a weekend. Feel myself relaxing slowly. Two days rarely being enough time but it's beautiful today.

I won't be driving 30 miles to a meeting though I still wish one were closer since I'm not doing my 90 in 90 which seems like a silly reason but this place is really far from ANYTHING. I had a great meeting with my sponsor last night just talking about my week and where I was at and where she was at. We hadn't done that in a while. The last few meetings she's been pushing me to do my 4th Step and they've been tough going through the resentments I had done but last night we just checked in. We checked in about remembering to turn it over and the misery I begin to feel usually stems from my need to control. I'm so conditioned to want to know how all is going and how all is going to happen and work out, I barely even notice. The time up in the mtns last week helped me remember my Higher Power and reconnect spiritually which amazingly helps me relax. Who knew?!

While I feel the results of 90 in 90, there is something somewhat anti-climatic about it. I am finding that I'm feeling some of the feelings I felt when I went into this. Drifting, bummed that people with 20 yrs or more are still having to constantly maintain their program to stay sober. A guy with 26 yrs sobriety said that he doesn't so much as want to drink as that he is frightened of alcohol. I have to say, I feel the same way about alcohol. Like a true alcoholic now that I've done my 90 in 90, I'm looking for the next best thing. Shiny objects, quick solutions with fast results.

I've really enjoyed writing this blog so I think I'll continue to maintain it. It's indulging and well, I've heard from one person that it helps them feel closer to me and that I love. And there's just been oodles of support from many of my friends not in the program and that I love too. It's helped me join my worlds a little bit after I pulled away to build the foundation of my program and friends in my program, I feel stronger to spend time and interact with my "normie" friends. I only hope that a silly blog or this process will strengthen and support that bond.

I read in the Big Book last night that as much as you want to go out and do this program with other people, AA is a program about you and Spirit and your relation to God. I took a lot of solace in that because even on Thursday at a meeting, I had gotten so outside of myself, so self-conscious at my lack of tattoos and lack of hipster hair (I did just get a new haircut, cleverly quipped, the Steve Perry. I soon noticed half the boys in Oakland have this haircut. haha so maybe I do have hipster boy hair at least), my lack of fixy riding and skinny black jeans that after hating on myself, I started to hate on everyone in the room and then I just felt like poo and didn't want to be there. And the recurring theme with many people's shares (some without tattoos even and some with) at this meeting was "focus on the similarities, not the differences". This is what I was not doing. And it's true. And it's also true that my comfort in meetings is only a portion of this program, that really this is about my connection to God (which makes me so uncomfortable to write but it doesn't read the way that it feels). My sponsor continues to be concerned at my criticism of meetings. I told her I'm just really critical and I'm just telling her how I really feel (is that so bad?). And the Bay Area is my home I love to hate. With people I equally love to hate.

I am lucky to have a naturally strong connection to God, Spirit, whatever when I put the work into it. I don't write or talk about it as it doesn't necessarily fit into the ways of my Christian upbringing but unfortunately, I only have those terms to really describe my spiritual connection so it doesn't seem like the same God that I was forced to go to church every Sunday to be close to. Ugh. I hated Sunday school. I never even understood the basic shit they were trying to present, all the archaic stuff of disciples, walking in the desert, Jesus and last suppers just got me confused with what the importance of connection to spirit was.

I suppose I first experienced this connection as a dope smoking, acid tripping hippie going to Steve Miller shows at Great Woods trading Oreos for beer at 15. Probably around 16, I discovered my hippiness as well as my connection and comfort in nature and being outside. I also became a semi-vegetarian when I was 14 (I've really only had a bite of hamburger or any red meat since then). I felt an extraordinary connection to animals from a very young age beginning with finding turtles in our backyard, to dressing up my cat Oliver, my love for the Muppets and my first animal welfare campaign to keep the boys in the neighborhood from throwing stones at this couple of ducks that were trying to nest in the creek by our house in the burbs. But that all seems pretty normal kid stuff (I'm somewhat embarrassed at my bland suburban upbringing, needless to say, my childhood was pretty easy and blessed). I also loved sports, bikes, boys and art and normal kid shit too. Thinking back though of where I connected spiritually first, I believe it was through animals. I used to spend hours in elementary school drawing animals. My mother encouraged me to always draw instead of watch TV. I loved TV but my parents were sometimes strict about it. MTV was just blowing up with Adam Curry, Michael Jackon's Thriller, Cyndi Lauper, Prince (one summer, I had a babysitter that only wore purple and used to lip sync Purple Rain songs into the iron) and Madonna. I loved doing art projects and I was blessed to have some very creative babysitters each summer. I also had swim lessons every summer and I hated swimming, I'm still a crummy swimmer. In school, I would hide in the stacks by the dewey decimal system for whatever the Animals section was and just draw cats, tigers, ducks, squirrels, turtles, horses, giraffes anything I wanted to draw. While studying art in high school and before college, I would also do this in museums and libraries, copying the masterpieces of Van Gogh, Rodin, Toulouse-Lautrec, Gauguin, Chagall (my favorite), Frida etc for hours. Art and animals and nature was how I connected to Spirit and thankfully these were concepts that were readily available to me. As I've gotten older, their lessons have continued to be simple but have a deeper impact (even the Muppets). I realized that my cat, Bella, had taught me how to love unconditionally when she ultimately passed. Bella was a terrible cat, skittish and temperamental and always pooping on my bed. But she slept every night on my back or my chest. The minute I sat down she was purring and smiling and blissful. I loved that cat so much. That was truly one of the greatest gifts ever I could have received from anyone or any animal or anything.

Okay, I think I'm just babbling now. I wish I had the skill like some of my amazing writer friends to truly craft my feelings about Spirit in a less simple more coherent, more impactful way. I so love the skill of being able to write and create but it's a blog. You get what you get. And I can't be spending all hours of the day crafting a silly blog then it wouldn't be a blog I guess. Have a wonderful weekend, everyone. Thank you for reading (and thank you to JB for watching my cat, Disco in a pinch)....xo

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Day 90; Soon to be Meeting 90: Complicated

I'm making this complicated. Truth is, I kinda lost count. I wasn't counting my therapy sessions as meetings and then I started to so today is my 90th day, my 90th day in a row of attending an AA mtg (6 days out of 7) for 90 days, attending therapy on Wednesdays and spending one Saturday doing a service project all day (oh wait but then I attended a meeting right after!) so I've spent the morning trying to count knowing that I'm done today but worried that I've rationalized and cheated somehow so in case anyone tries to doubt me, I KNOW WHAT'S RIGHT! And this was supposed to be fun;) Tonight I will attend my 90th meeting in Half Moon Bay.

I've also been recently demoted from the 4th Step back to the 3rd. This was a welcome demotion I must say. One of the reasons I haven't written has simply been time. And the 4th Step takes time. First, it was time that I wasn't giving it, having moved Oct 1 to Oakland and commuting every day and settling in to living with my partner and settling into my new home and environment. Then, my computer cord broke. Now, Myles has several computers but he also sometimes uses 2 at a time and well, this one is real small. Excuses, excuses. What I realized in all of this, is that my sobriety had to come first and the blog was kinda part of that but kind of not. It was something separating me from the sobriety of AA maybe. For whatever reason, it became hard to keep up even though I thought about writing every day. This was also a good project in reflection because I get really excited about things and then like getting distracted and excited about something else only to leave behind a formerly very exciting unfinished project that heaven forbid I may have gotten other people excited about and left behind. Terrible, I've done this since I was young and I think it's so I never really fail. I just drift off. And the shiny object of potential blinds those around me to the fact I can't finish anything.

But the blog, I'm finishing and for that I'm proud. Though I may not have written every day and yes some of the rules got added, what was consistent was my commitment to going to meetings. Even when I didn't want to and even when I wasn't doing any other work on staying sober, going to meetings was easy but I quickly learned that it wasn't enough. I have struggled these last few weeks doing my 4th Step. My sponsor is frustrated and even reducing me to tears (we have an understanding that I need her to yell at me sometimes to get me "with it") and telling me to not think she's "going to be surprised when all I want to do is drink because this is a program of action etc etc and I'm not doing the work".....and I wasn't and last week I was wanting to drink. Really bad. And showed up to my Friday meeting with her with barely anything done of my 4th Step. That's when she made me put my head down and hammered out alot of my 4th Step which with life and work and love, became a little too much to bear. I kept finding myself repeating the 1st three steps as though I had forgotten them. I was really overwhelmed on Wednesday. Myles and I were going out of town to housesit and I was taking some time off work. And I felt really crummy on Wednesday, bad morning, Myles and I had our first fight (ok, maybe the second). I was a total treat. Yay! Vacation! "Hey honey, wanna spend 5 days in a secluded cabin? It'll be soooooo great!" Needless to say, my sponsor recommended I stay behind. I was a little worried she'd "break up with me" if I went. I really needed to get out of town and it's hard to defy someone that knows you but is still getting to know you and who has helped you considerably in spite of that. But I did defy her and was totally worried that my HP was going to ruin my vacation with my boyfriend. We cooled out after our fight but it was still a little tense. But thankfully, we had 12 chickens, 4 cats (1 in heat, 1 that's 5 weeks old and not litter box trained, 1 that's awesome and a momma cat that is totally skittish and growls) and 1 big Weihmahreiner (how the fuck do you spell that?) who is a total barrel of love but who has an affinity for sleeping under the covers with you and farting (all 80 lbs of himself to take care of for 5 days secluded in the woods. And thankfully, this woman's home needed some cleaning so I took to the task.

You know, cleaning makes you feel better and with an un-litter box trained kitten, there's has been plenty of cleaning and unfortunately at times it's not working as well as others. The 5 week old kitten provides hours of maximum cuteness overload that I seriously didn't now that I was capable of fathoming. Where does the cute gene come from? Or rather where does the ability for us to find things cute originate from? Cute is much more than aesthetic, there's more to it. There's action involved. What makes this adorable kitten's attempts to clean himself just the cutest thing in the world (his belly is so big, he can't lick his hind legs, he gets a bit frustrated and ends up on his back like a turtle:)) Is it helpless innocence? Of being in the world ill-prepared and having no idea? I'm just working through this. Like I said, I've been in the woods for the last 5 days.

We've also been 27 miles from the nearest AA meetings and coffee. I tried finding coffee closer and went on the other side of the mountains only to have slower, windier roads albeit shorter but taking way more time. The woman we are housesitting for drinks tea=no coffee maker and we didn't bring one. It's been really nice and we've indulged in all the Lucky Charms one couple can eat, cookie dough, nachos and macaroni and cheese:) Isn't love grand? You can eat like a pig and your partner still loves you to pieces. Pretty funny.

My final meeting is tonight, HP-willing, that I make it. I've almost hit 9 deer and 1 possum trying to get to meetings these last few days. The few people I've told this to, have said, "Great, so you can take Sunday off!" Well, I think the point of this exercise among others has been for one to realize that indeed meetings aren't enough and that you don't do 90 in 90 and then you're done. You do 90 in 90 to realize the importance of not only the meeting but the whole program. And this I feel I have realized...for now. I've focused on my new friendships. I even got a new commitment (after 4 rounds of nominations, geez, what does a person have to do get elected in AA?) at one of my new meetings in Oakland. I've always discovered how much I like to control everything and how much less frustrated I get when I let go, surrender and turn it over to something great than myself. I've realized the importance of being "right-sized". That I am cunning and will try to use whatever I can to work something in my favor. I also realized and remembered or rather decided to face the truth that I got high soon after quitting drinking. I believe I need to adjust my sobriety time from there so I'll have to spend some time figuring it out. It's just a number and sober is sober however, I've heard it all from many different people in the program some of which have a lot of time. But I have committed 90 days to this program. And I've gone to what can equate to 89 meetings (tonight will make 90). And I might even continue to write as this blog has helped me gather support and give people a peep into this amazing ever-changing process of being sober that has been so lovely and fucking hard. 90 in 90 will just be a title then, representing so much more. Thanks ya'll for those that saw me through and for those who took the time to read. Sorry I couldn't respond to you all but please I love you tons. Maximum love. xo