Thursday, March 29, 2007

Uncle Randy

The day my daughter Jolie was born one of the happiest people at the hospital was her Uncle Randy. He took that baby girl in his arms and promised to love her forever and ever. His partner Don promised to teach her to fold napkins a dozen ways for the perfect dinner party.

Uncle Randy kept his promise. He was devoted to Jolie and spoiled her in ways that her father and I couldn’t. He gave her sweet and thoughtful gifts, the kind of gifts that encouraged her to be the best she could be, like swimming lessons, guitar lessons, books, and music. Jolie adored her Uncle; it was fun to watch the two of them together. Randy would have made a great father.

Randy and Don were together a little over 15 years. I can’t say exactly what ended their relationship, but their Newport Beach gay lifestyle involved a lot of alcohol so it was probably the same story we all hear in the “rooms”. Don died shortly after the break up; he struck his head on a toilet seat and bled to death presumably while in a black out.

Randy always lived alone after that. He had a few friends, but no one that he ever got close to. Jolie was his weekend companion, confidant and shining star. She would spend the night; they would get movies and a pizza. Sometimes they went to LA to the theatre. They just hung out, the way you do with people you love. That was the weekends. During the week Randy was lonely, remorseful, bitter and isolated, and so he drank.

Jolie knew he had a problem. I knew he had a problem. I did nothing. He was so intensely private. I had ten years of sobriety at the time but I didn’t know how to reach across that gulf.

In July of 2003 Randy reached a new low. He led Jolie to believe he may traveling for awhile. He put his truck in his garage, and his gun in his mouth.

Two months passed by before Jolie and her father found Randy’s body. Two months of Jolie calling, and emailing, and driving by his house. It ended when she finally went into his backyard and saw through the window that the house was swarming with flies, and she knew she had to call me, and the police. I say “it ended” but of course it will never end for Jolie. The trauma of that day…. sights, smell, shock and loss changed her forever. Randy’ s alcoholism and despair claimed two victims that day.

The picture above is Jolie and Uncle Randy at her high school graduation in 2001. He is just as proud as he was on the day she was born. She has decorated her shoes to look like ruby red slippers. She believes at this point in her life that she can click her heels three times and go anywhere.

After Randy’s suicide Jolie suffered in a way that was almost unbearable for me to watch. I struggled to find a balance between helping her, and letting go enough to let her grieve in her own way. She dealt with her pain exactly the way I did when I was young. She drank, she got stoned, she dropped out of college, she got into self loathing and she got angry. I watched her walk the dark hallways of her own heart and mind and slowly self destruct. Finally in April last year she said “enough”.

Jolie took a 30 day sobriety chip at one of my meetings, and then left So California in May 2006. So I’m coming up on the one year anniversary of her decision to leave home. She moved north to Washington state and lives with her dad now. I think her prayers are for peace and understanding, for herself and others. She wants to fall in love. She wants to trust. She wants to believe in herself and the possibilities of the ruby red slippers. She still doesn’t drink, and she’s ready to go back to school. I miss her every day, but understand her choice and I think it’s the right one for her. I think California smells like death to her, and the air in Washington is so sweet.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

A Dog With A Buzz

Sometimes you have to sneak up on your pets to see where they get their energy

Thursday, March 22, 2007


There is someone who is bothering me. She’s driving me crazy. I’ve run out of patience.

Three sentences above: 2 “me’s” and 1 “I”. That means the problem and solution probably are on me.

I know that I cannot change her, but I also know that I can change my attitude about her. The Big Book tells me:

We realized that the people who wronged us were perhaps spiritually sick. Though we did not like their symptoms and the way these disturbed us, they, like ourselves, were sick too. We asked God to help us show them the same tolerance, pity, and patience that we would cheerfully grant a sick friend. When a person offended we said to ourselves, "This is a sick man. How can I be helpful to him? God save me from being angry. Thy will be done."

Now this is a hard prescription to follow. I know it’s going to require a lot of compassion. I’m really interested in Eastern spirituality, so I “googled” compassion and found Kwan Yin.

Long ago, according to legend, Kwan Yin earned the right to enter Nirvana after her death. But when she stood before the gates of paradise, she heard the anguished voices of those left on earth and, turning away from bliss, vowed to remain in the world, gently leading others until all living things reached enlightenment. Kwan Yin, a bodhisattva, became the Goddess Of Infinite Compassion or 'she who hears the cries of the world.'

I want to be like Kwan Yin. I want to have compassion for this self centered, whiney, little twit (who won’t take direction). But today I’m feeling very human.

I talked with my sponsor last night. He just smiled and suggested that maybe there is a reason she is in my life; perhaps there is a lesson I am supposed to learn. I asked him what the lesson could possibly be, and he just smiled again. God, I hate that.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Into Action

I’ve been asked by a couple of friends to help them fight their way past a phase of apathy in their recovery programs recently. You know, that “stuck” feeling, where you’re just not willing to do much, and everyone is saying “You gotta have willingness!”

Scout wrote
“Where does one get some if one doesn't have any? I hear about people praying for the willingness to be willing. To be honest, that seems so contrived and ridiculous to me that I am not willing to try it. So what then? I pray for the willingness to have the willingness to pray for willingness? I mean, really, where does all of that stuff stop?”

I’ll start my post with the old joke about apathy:
Sponsee: What’s worse for your program, Ignorance or Apathy?
Sponsor: I don’t know and I don’t care.

The point is we’ve all been apathetic; and there’s a lot we don’t know. The best we can do is share our experience, strength and hope; and of course, look in the Big Book.

Here is what I believe. Willingness is not something we wake up with, anymore than we suddenly wake up sober and in recovery one day. This is an action program. Therein is the irony. You need to take action to be willing, and you need to be willing to take action. So what do we do? Yes, dear Scout, I’m afraid we do pray that ridiculous sounding request. We pray for the willingness to be willing. But let’s break it down. What are we really praying for?

Willingness comes when something or someone enters our consciousness, or our awareness, that makes us want to take action. For instance, you see a hungry or abused child and you want to get into action to help. A smoker watches a loved one dying of emphezema and becomes willing to give up cigarettes. We see or hear a story that touches us in a way that we are willing to change our perception or our actions. So….what we are praying for is that our Higher Power will put something or someone into our path (our awareness) that will spur us into action.

Our part in this prayer is the “footwork”. We must place ourselves out on the firing line of life; going to meetings, out in the community, working with others. Just suit up and show up, even if you are feeling apathetic and feel you have nothing to say or offer. On pg 102 of the Big Book it says :

Your job now is to be at the place where you may be of maximum helpfulness to others, so never hesitate to go anywhere if you can be helpful. You should not hesitate to visit the most sordid spot on earth on such an errand. Keep on the firing line of life with these motives and God will keep you unharmed.

Out there on the “firing line of life”. That is where we get spurred into action for our own recovery. We go to a recovery home or detox to be of service and we get as much or more than we give. We get willingness.

I guarantee you will not feel apathy when you are walking among those who still suffer from this disease. Christ walked among down trodden people to carry a message of hope. When Siddhartha left his palace and saw the suffering of his subjects he realized enlightenment and became Buddha. This is a spiritual program. When we bring the Sunlight of the Spirit into our consciousness, whatever our beliefs may be, willingness follows.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Staying Out of My Own Way

Friday night I took my chip at my home group. It’s a C/A meeting with a large turnout every Friday. I was excited all week about my sobriety birthday and really looking forward to my home group meeting. But when I arrived Friday night it felt like I was in a mental blank spot. I looked at that large crowd and knew I had to go up front and say something that made sense. I realized I’d left my brain at home. Amazing how powerful fear can be.
I usually don’t have a problem sharing in a meeting. I‘ve shared from the podium and done speaker meetings. But for some reason Friday night was different. My mental slate was wiped clean; all the usual yada-yada was gone. I started to panic a little as they did the readings and it got closer to the time for chips. I signaled for my sponsor to meet me out in the hall. I told him how much fear I was feeling and he asked why. I told him because my mind was blank and I didn’t know what I was going to say up there. He pointed out that there were at least a dozen newcomer women that had identified. He said maybe my mind was cleared out so that God could speak through me... Duh. It went great.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

The Wind

Years ago, a farmer owned land along the Atlantic seacoast.He constantly advertised for hired hands. Most people were reluctant to work on farms along the Atlantic. They dreaded the awful storms that raged across the Atlantic, wreaking havoc on the buildings and crops. As the farmer interviewed applicants for the job, he received a steady stream of refusals. Finally, a short, thin man, well past middle age, approached the farmer. "Are you a good farm hand?" the farmer asked him. "Well, I can sleep when the wind blows," answered the little man. Although puzzled by this answer, the farmer, desperate for help, hired him. The little man worked well around the farm, busy from dawn to dusk, and the farmer felt satisfied with the man's work.
Then one night the wind howled loudly in from offshore.Jumping out of bed, the farmer grabbed a lantern and rushed next door to the hired hand's sleeping quarters. He shook the little man and yelled, "Get up! A storm is coming! Tie things down before they blow away!" The little man rolled over in bed and said firmly, "No sir. I told you, I can sleep when the wind blows." Enraged by the response, the farmer was tempted to fire him on the spot. Instead, he hurried outside to prepare for the storm. To his amazement, he discovered that all of the haystacks had been covered with tarpaulins. The cows were in the barn, the chickens were in the coops, and the doors were barred. The shutters were tightly secured. Everything was tied down. Nothing could blow away. The farmer then understood what his hired hand meant, so he returned to his bed to also sleep while the wind blew. author unknown

Today am I prepared, spiritually, mentally, and physically, so that I have nothing to fear when the wind blows?

Wednesday, March 07, 2007


Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity.... It turns problems into gifts, failures into success, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.
Melodie Beattie

Today I am grateful for the blessings and grace of my Higher Power, the love and support of my friends and family, the guidance of my amazing sponsor, the rooms, and all of you who trudge the path with me. Thank You and Bless You.

So.....I'm 14 now.......Let's Rock 'n Roll !!!

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Hope & Freedom

I’m going to the Alamo in San Antonio Texas for the NA World Convention August 30 to Sept 2. ! I am so excited at the idea of meeting some of you there…can we possibly make it happen? Scout and Twodogs are going to be there too….. The theme this year is “Our Message: Hope Our Promise: Freedom.

I know, I know, some of you alkies are saying, “NA? No way!”…but hey…recovery is recovery. We can hook up, do some meetings, stroll the beautiful San Antonio Riverwalk, shoot it out at the Alamo, and share some awesome fellowship. So what say?

Thursday, March 01, 2007


You know those little magnetic words that stick on a refrigerator so you can compose eclectic poetry? We had a set of those on a fridge on the back patio. When we got rid of the fridge, the magnetic words got thrown into a box, but left out back. When you have three dogs mysterious things happen to boxes left out back. To make a long story short, no matter how many times I clean them up, about once a week I will walk out back and a new word will be waiting for me on the patio. Today’s word was FLOOD. I had to smile.

I have just come through a week that was a flood of feelings. A real Tsunami. It started with a dull melancholy, turned into the blues, graduated to deep sadness and culminated in two days of non stop tears . If you had asked me why, I didn’t know. I kept in close touch with my sponsor. He told me I didn’t need to know why, that maybe I should just trust God and feel the feelings.

My husband was out of town, I was alone in the house for a few days, so that’s pretty much what I did. I laid on the couch and felt the feelings. I thought about my yesterdays, my todays and my tomorrows. On one of those days I got an email from Scott W that said “The painful times, when I must concentrate the most on the process of turning it over to God and of letting it go, have been when I have had the experience of such closeness to my Higher Power that it seems that something tissue thin is keeping me from reaching out and actually touching it.” That is exactly how it was for me. I felt God’s presence absolutely all around me, tissue thin, as though I could close my eyes and plunge into His comfort. But still it hurt.

Yesterday I woke up and it was gone. I’m at peace. I met with my sponsor last night. I told him my depression had lifted. He asked me why I was calling it “depression”. I have such a need to label everything. All I know is that something happened, it hurt, and now it is over. He asked me to consider if maybe at this stage of my recovery, on my spiritual path, I had just worked a profoundly deep sixth and seventh step. He is so wise. I re-read the seventh step in my 12 and 12 this morning. Everything that I reflected on, every regret, every sorrow, every hope and dream had given me a new humility and a new willingness to have God remove my shortcomings. Am I ready to relinquish my future to God’s plan instead of my material wishes? Am I ready to stop asserting my wishes and demands on my loved ones lives? Can I truly Let Go and Let God? Am I ready to truly accept my past as a gift that can be used in my helpfulness to others? I’m ready. What I thought was pain was catharsis. Amazing stuff, and I didn’t even see it coming.