Changed

I have no idea what has gotten me to this point. I do know that I am on a rocket course to self-awareness. Life is one big curve ball.

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Obstacles

I can’t remember why I stopped posting blogs.  I don’t know if I got too busy or just disinterested.  This year has been one of so many changes for me, none seemingly for the better.  Perhaps I will look back on this time and see that the struggles I went through were necessary.  For now it seems as though there are only obstacles in my way, most of which I created for myself.

From June through October I drank.  My last binge set into motion a series of events which have left serious consequences.  I have not had a drink in almost a month, nor have I felt the desire to numb this crisis away with alcohol or drugs.  This is always the case for me, when I decide I am going to be sober.  My desire to drink is removed.  The danger for me lies in not following through; I do not maintain my spiritual condition.  I lack discipline.

Discipline of an unwanted variety will soon be given to me, to uphold or suffer a set of even more serious consequences.  I know that correctional, punitive discipline will not keep me sober.  Only an honest, willing effort on my part to abandon myself to what my experience shows to be a solution will keep me from dying a spiritual death by drinking.

 

 

 

A Breath of Clean Air

I came to the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous by way of a suicide hotline on October 24, 2001.  The woman who answered the phone was kind.  I told her that I had a problem with alcohol.  She asked if I had ever tried AA.  I told her that at this point, I would try anything.  I was desperate, I wanted to die; after all, I had called a suicide hotline.  She said there was a meeting very close to where I lived at 6:30 that evening, that it happened to be her home group.  It was called Clean Air.  It was morning when I called her.  That meant I had hours to wait for the meeting.  I spent the day in morbid reflection of my situation.  I had cast everything good out of my life because of my behavior while drinking:  my job, my appearance, the health of my marriage and the friends in my life.  The last straw had been the loss of the one person in my life who I thought would never abandon me, my best friend Christy.  In the week prior she had not returned my calls.  Finally I had heard from her husband, who said that they just couldn’t have me in their lives at this point because of my behavior.  I was devastated.  I thought of dying and nothing else.  I was an atheist; I had no higher power to turn to, nothing larger than myself to give these feelings over to.  I didn’t even know the concept, having turned away from the church and God as a rebellious young girl of thirteen.  I had a psychiatrist from whom I got my meds but I had not seen a therapist in years.  My husband was already freaked out by my drinking and behavior; sharing with him that I wanted to die would have sent him over the edge.  I slept eighteen hours a day and drank during my waking hours.  By the time I went to the meeting that night I was full to the top of despair.

Clean Air was my salvation.  I was relieved at once of the desire to drink, which was a miracle.  I had not gone more than a day or two without a drink in the last five years.  I became a very active member overnight, going to three meetings a day, having breakfast after the morning meeting, lunch after the noon meeting and dinner after the evening meeting.  I went to every function and group conscious meeting.  I got a sponsor and started working the steps.  Clean Air became my family.  I know I was insane, but they loved me just the way I was.  Some of them told me things I didn’t like to hear, in fact I left meetings and refused to speak to some people over some of their advice from time to time, but the wisdom of their words would always sink in eventually.

After eight and a half years around the rooms of AA I know that Clean Air is something of an anomaly, or at least it was during that time.  This was God doing for me what I could not do for myself.  I was protected from some of the behaviors that I have since experienced in other groups, specifically the rumor mills and the predatory men.   All I knew at Clean Air was love and support.  I had the impunity to practice my program and get well.  I won’t exaggerate here and say that there weren’t other sick alcoholics around me, there were.  I had my share of shady experiences, but no men ever tried to get into my pants and no one ever whispered stories into my ear about any one’s private lives.  Perhaps these things went on but I was delivered from them.

I spent five years at Clean Air.  I chaired meetings, sponsored women and led a speaker meeting for a year and a half, which was both a challenge and an honor.  I drifted away from the group when I moved to another area of Dallas, where there was a clubhouse less than a block from my home, but I returned to Clean Air from time to time.  My relapse began shortly before I moved away from Dallas in July of 2006.  I went to the Sunday morning meeting the day before I left Dallas and asked for a desire chip, sometimes called a 24 hour coin.  My sponsor was chairing the meeting.  I had blamed her for my relapse.  We had not spoken in more than a month.  She handed me my coin.  It was the last time I was to see her or Clean Air in three and a half years.

Happy Birthday, Mom

Today is my Mom’s birthday.  I would not be here today if it weren’t for her.  I don’t say that simply because she gave birth to me.  I say that because she has carried me in places where I could not stand, let alone walk.  She is the living representation of unconditional love and tolerance.  She has done for me what I could never have done for myself, and she has also encouraged me to do for myself that which I would rather she had done for me.  I love you, Jeannie.  You are my density.  Jean Joann Demaray 12/13/46Mom & Dad

Happy Family 1970

Vegas 1999

Postal Santa (Or, Yes Rhonda, There Was a Santa Claus)

In 1973 or 74 when I was 5 or 6 years old, my family and I lived in Phoenix.  We had very little in the way of money or material things, but we were a happy little family, for the most part.  My brother was just a baby, and my sister and I spent our days playing outside in the Arizona sunshine.  That year was a particularly lean one for us.  We drove up to Flagstaff to cut our own tree, free of charge back then, I think, and made our decorations from egg cartons and glitter.  It must have been a hard time for my Mother and stepfather, but I can’t remember really wanting for much-we were always fed and clothed.

I can still remember sitting down at the kitchen table to write my annual letter to Santa.  I told him that we didn’t have much, and that I knew he was very busy, but that I had a few small requests for him.  My sister loved to read, and I asked him if he could bring her some books and something for my baby brother.  We pretty much lived on tuna and macaroni those days and I asked Santa for a ham or turkey as a special treat for our family’s Christmas dinner.  I closed my letter with a special request, stating: “if you have room in your sleigh, I would love a Barbie Dream Boat.”  I was obsessed with Barbies, and the Dream Boat was all the Barbie rage that Christmas.  I sealed the letter in an envelope, gave it to my Mother, and really didn’t think much more about it since Mom had told me that kids didn’t always get what they wanted from Santa, seeing as how he was a very busy man with lots of children on his list.

A few days before the “big day” we went out shopping with the little money we had.  We bought gifts for our family and I remember how sad my Mom looked while we shopped that day.  Looking back I know that her melancholy was due to not being able to give her children the fantastic holiday that all children desire.  I was sad for her.

We returned home from our excursion and piled into the house, removing our coats and falling back into whatever activities were abandoned earlier in the day.  Minutes later, I remember hearing bells and a hearty “Ho, Ho Ho” from the front yard of our run-down little house.  My sister and I ran out onto the front porch to see our stepfather walking toward the house, arms full of brightly wrapped presents. Much to our delight, there were more on the tailgate of our old Willis Jeep, including a big ham.  Arthur told us that Santa had just been there, saying that he had made a special early trip to our humble home.  He explained that the bells we had heard were from Santa’s sleigh and that we had just missed seeing him fly away with his reindeer.  We were all very excited, me especially, happy in the knowledge that Mr. Claus had read my letter.

Christmas morning was delightful!  Santa had filled my entire list, complete with a set of Winnie-the-Pooh books for my sister and a Mickey Mouse blanket for my baby brother.  There were gloves for all of us, and big marker sets for my sister and me.  The biggest present of all was for me, and you never saw such a happy little girl when I finally took off the wrapping.  It was the Barbie Dream Boat I had asked for!  It was a happy Christmas, indeed!

I got many hours of fun playtime out of that cardboard and plastic boat, and we all enjoyed the presents that “Santa” had brought us.  We filled our tummies with ham and had a wonderful day.  For many years to come, I was a firm believer in Santa Claus, even though he never again gave me exactly the items on my wish list.  After all, he was a very busy man with lots of children’s dreams to fulfill.

Many years later, my Mother and stepfather sat my sister and me down on the couch and said that they had something to tell us.  They reminded us of that Christmas, which we still remembered well.  We were 12 and 14 by that time, and our belief in Santa was fading fast, if not completely gone.  They told us of a postal worker in Phoenix who picked one child’s letter each year, and that the letter he picked that year was mine.  He had told my parents that my letter touched his heart because I had put myself last on the list, thinking of my family before asking for myself.  They had pre-arranged a time for him to drop off the goodies, and staged it so that it had seemed as if Santa had really been there.  I have to admit I was just a little crushed to find out that it wasn’t really St. Nick who had payed us a visit that year, but I knew in my adolescent mind that it just couldn’t have been.

It warms my heart to this day to share that story, and to think about the way that postal worker made our holiday a happy one.  I often wish that I knew his name so that I could thank him personally, but I’m sure he knows how much it meant to all of us.

Here’s hoping that you have or will someday have such a magical Christmas, or some very special day like that.   I wish, also, that you have a magical year.

Love,

Rhonda

The Gifts We Receive

I have these two beautiful women in my life.  I actually have four, but two of them are out of my sight, one in a treatment center and one in prison, I don’t hear from them often.  The two I speak of are here in town and I work with them face to face.  They attend the same meetings as I do and I am taking them through the work as I have been shown to by the wonderful women who have been placed on my journey of recovery.

I have been working with L1 since September.  She is in her sex inventory, a part of the work that I have found to be even more valuable and revealing than the resentment inventory.  It has been such a joy to see her develop a personal relationship with God.  She has had damaging experiences with religion and has been able to heal them by seeking new spiritual paths and with the simple kit of spiritual tools offered through the 12 steps.  She is a delight to work with.  We laugh and share our desperation simultaneously.

L2 is brand new, we have just begun the journey together.  She sent me a text the other night to say that she had begun her fourth step.  “Whoa, turbo!”, I replied, “You’re still on step one!”  I told her that if she needed relief and thought she was ready to go forward there was a way to take 1-3 and get on with the action steps.  1 and 2, after all, are proposals, and 3 is a decision.  She said that she was, indeed, ready.  She has said repeatedly in meetings that she has not crossed the bridge from reason to faith where God is concerned, but she told me this:  “He has put you in my life.”  This was all I needed to hear to be sure that she is ready to turn her will and her life over to the care of God as she understands Him. I told her that we will have to meet at my place, that I won’t have her on her knees in the cold clubhouse, giving herself to God while someone busts in the door unexpectedly.  She is as willing as I’ve ever seen someone know how to be, as willing as only the dying can be.  This is all we need to make our beginning.

I am humbled and grateful to be of service to these women.  I am also aware that God is doing for me what I could never do for myself.  When I was practicing my disease I could never have given of myself in this way.  I could barely have a telephone conversation with a friend without wanting to scream and hang up when they talked about themselves.  Now I can’t wait to hear what the people in my life have to share about themselves, even and especially the non-alcoholic ones.  It’s actually refreshing to chat with a “normal” person, to hear about the every day details of a life not concerned with daily reprieves or carrying messages, just day to day happenings and the kool-aid stain on the carpet.

I love our way of life.  It is infinitely more satisfying than anything I could have planned for myself.  It grows every day.  What first seemed a flimsy reed turned out to be the loving and powerful hand of God.