Wednesday, January 11, 2023


The events in our lives happen in a sequence in time, but in their significance to ourselves they find their own order.   Eudora Welty

As much as I might try, I rarely know the lesson of a circumstance while I'm in the midst of it. Breakups, job loss, college insanity (every term, like clockwork, despite past evidence of success), the hard work of excavating causes and conditions would sometimes have me shouting at the sky, "What are you trying to tell me?!" (I don't believe in a HP pulling strings, but sometimes it can feel good to yell at something). For example, I'd long wondered if I'd connected with my first husband too young, just this summer recognizing that he probably saved me from myself, the myself that was enamored with the handsome, careless philanderer, or the myself that would've gotten in all sorts of trouble away at college. I wondered about the lesson when my boyfriend of 9 years left, right before the company I worked for closed abruptly, and several people I knew died, "You've got my attention, Life, now what do you want?!"

I spent time this week with women I've known since grade school, our monthly date, joined by two we don't see often. People often remark on how great it is that I'm still friends with these women, most of them known since I was nine years old. Is there a lesson here, about loyalty and shared experience? About the sweetness of seeing our mothers in each other's faces, or laughing about some long-ago antics? I have long term friends in program too - those who were "litter mates" and those I've met along the way, some for a season and some for a reason, as the saying goes. Do I need to know the significance, the lessons in various relationships? Maybe not, even though I'm prone to figure-it-out-itis.

Maybe the lesson(s) are about paying attention, then and now, not letting important connections wither on the vine, releasing what no longer fits, be it job or lover or notions about who I am. Maybe the lesson is that there is no "lesson," that I can keep doing the same thing until I don't anymore, whether from exhaustion or simply moving on.  If it were as simple as a "lesson" I could read a book and move forward. Experience is my teacher; other people show me the way (either how to or how not to proceed).

A magazine article I recently read addressed people's fears around being alone. I cannot relate, often preferring my own company to social interactions (that's one of the things I love about meetings - I can get my social fix for an hour or so, and then go home.) The Big Book says that, through Step work, we'll see that we can "be alone at perfect peace and ease"(p.75). As an introvert, that's never been a problem. For me, it always comes back to balance - is solitude a spiritual practice or an escape? Both and neither, depending on the day and time, my motivation and state of mind. This same magazine had a piece on "questions every woman should ask herself." I could relate to only one or two. Getting older is its own reward.

On another topic, in a meeting last week, people spoke about knee-jerk reactions, those times we spout off in anger or rudeness despite our best intentions, usually with those we're closest to. Is this a place to work Step One, admitting powerlessness over my reactivity? Is this one more place where I recognize that I cannot fix myself? What is it about the surrender that so often leads to a desired outcome? Not automatically, but it does seem that acknowledging I'm beat allows for a new energy to arise. Someone I consider a role model of spirituality wondered how to integrate the knee-jerk (emphasis on "jerk") self with the spiritually centered self. I suppose that is the crux of our Step work with slow improvement over time as serenity becomes stronger than ire, but never reaching perfection. I just learned the acronym - STOP = Spirit, Take Over Please. Now if I can remember that in the moment(s)!

Being January, a focus on Step One powerlessness and unmanageability is never a bad idea. What am I powerless over today? Well, just about everything outside the proverbial hula-hoop, but more accurately, what or who is it that I erroneously believe I have power over, which sets off a raft of unmanageabilities?

How do you best learn? From a book, from others, from experience, or maybe a combination? How does the phrase about being alone at perfect peace and ease strike you? What do you do when you don't feel at ease, either with yourself or others? What might be in need of surrender as this new year begins? What comes up when you ask, "What am I powerless over today?"

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This could be time to think about a new year inventory. See the Feb 4, 2022 entry for a sample of the "I've Been Sober a Long Time - Now What?" workbook with 78 pages of topics, member's views, and processing questions. Available in PDF format for those of you outside the US (or who prefer that format) or hardcopy mailed to you. Email me at with questions. Note that the workbook is also available at Portland Area Intergroup at 825 NE 20th 

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