Tuesday, January 25, 2005

I Surrender

I don't think I've ever felt worse, whether drunk or sober. I finally went to my sponsor Saturday, and told him I was lost and didn't know what to do. I actually asked my Mom for advice. Sunday I did the same with my sister. I can't remember the last time I asked people for advice.

The outcome was, I've bit off more than I can chew. I've held onto my house, which I can't afford, and is too big for me to handle, is literally cluttered with "wreckage of my past," and is full of memories of my collapsed family. I've held onto my real estate business dream, that started as a dream that my wife and I would work as a team together. I've held onto them because I haven't been willing to let go emotionally, to move on and start making my own decisions for the reality I now face.

I have to give up the house and the career, and the dreams they represent. I have to surrender them, as part of the past, and the self-will that has made me hang onto them for too long. I have to trust in an unknown future in God's hands.

I'm selling the house. I've left my mortgage broker desk, and yesterday and today I've polished up my resume and started applying for jobs with a regular paycheck. I'm going to move to a studio apartment I can afford, convenient to the AA meetings I need to attend. I need a job that will pay my expenses, allow me to send my wife money to support our son, and afford regular frequent trips to LA to see my son, without me going into debt. I need a regular, predictable work schedule, so I can have time for my meetings, set aside regular time to work on my steps, and regularly and predictably spend time with my son. Keep It Simple. Beyond that, I will have to wait to see what God reveals in His own time. And I have to keep reminding myself that these are objectives I'm working toward, not necessarily a destination that God intends me to reach!

My sobriety is not strong. I pray that, sooner rather than later, I will have the resources to accept and handle the combination of setbacks and challenges I’ve had, without fear, with hope and faith – and without an urge to drink. I’m not there yet. In order to move forward, both in solidifying my sobriety, and in rewiring my brain (which are actually the same thing), I need to focus on my priorities and eliminate other stressful things that pull me away from my priorities. First Things First.

It breaks my heart to go through the emotion of giving up these things. I’m feeling a lot of grief. I’m afraid of starting over, again, in a studio apartment and a temp job without benefits. Hopefully I’ll at least start out without debt after selling the house, but basically I’ll be starting again with nothing. I feel ashamed, and I feel that I’ve failed – failed my wife, failed my son, failed myself. I feel stupid for making choices about the house and my job in the past few months that, it seems clear now, were the wrong ones. I pray that God is merciful, rather than just.

Thank God I went back to AA and recovery within three weeks, before I caused too much damage, before it got out of control. I did not lose the benefit of my recovery so far – I know what kept me sober for as long as I was, and I learned a few of the things I need to do in addition, to keep my sobriety. I have been praying, on my knees, every morning, asking God for His protection and guidance through the day, to show me His will for me and give me the strength, at each moment, to carry it out; and every night, thanking Him for being with me, keeping me sober, and asking forgiveness for my sins and failures to do His will. And I ask His blessings and peace for my wife, for my son, my family and friends, and myself.

The prayer and seeking conscious contact with God do not come naturally to me. I struggle with my belief and faith. Often I’m just going through the motions. Sometimes I feel like an idiot. And yet, I can feel my brain trying to rewire itself. I will not stop doing it. I have hope that it will begin to come naturally to me, that my brain will eventually rewire itself, that my heart and spirit will open up, that my decades-old habits of desperate, miserable hubris, self-will and avoidance will finally be replaced by humility and obedience to God, and the courage and pride that can come only from God. I desperately want it. I want to live in God’s light, and never be driven again by my isolated, fearful self-will. I’m tired of living in a hell that I design and build myself.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

"Abandon Yourself to God"

"Abandon Yourself to God."

I've been going to a noon meeting every day, a new meeting for me. Each day the meeting closes with the concluding passage of the Big Book, before the personal stories (not a typical tradition in my town).

These words struck me. I know I have to "let go and let God," get myself out of the way, surrender, "turn my will and my life over to God." I have to turn my fear over to God, "do the next indicated thing" and let God handle the outcomes. Faith=Belief+Trust+Action.

"Some of us tried to hold on to our old ideas and the result was nil until we let go absolutely."

"We asked His protection and care with complete abandon."

Why is it so hard for me to do this? Why can't I let go absolutely, abandon myself to God's care, God's will, God's purpose? I want, more than anything, to let go. I want to live, I want to live in the light of God, to be an instrument of His peace.

Yet I am still tangled up in the hell I have designed and built for myself.

Please, God, show me your way!

Thursday, January 20, 2005


I made it back in. I was out until Sunday. I don't think I got drunk more than 8 or 10 times, but another day or two and I think I would have been lost for a long time. I was back to the same despair, suicidal, feeling of worthlessness, regrets, shame, the works. Tonight I'm going to my 11th meeting since Sunday.

I've asked myself if this blog was part of what led me to relapse. As long as I use it to express myself to myself, and not as a substitute for meetings and other contact, maybe there's no harm. That's what I'm trying right now.

The overwhelming feeling I've had is fear. I started my job as a mortgage broker. I have to sell at least two loans to close in February, or I'll be let go. It's 100% commission, so I'll also be broke. I'm deep in debt, tapped out. I'll have to sell the house, which I had wanted to hold onto for my son. But, since he's in another city with my wife now, it makes no sense to keep it. I hate the house, actually, and I want to sell it. But the market is weak and I prefer to wait for the spring nudge so I can get something from it other than repaying the mortgage. I'm counting pennies and sweating bullets.

I've explained to my wife that I don't have any money to send, but she keeps telling me I have to send her money, I have an obligation. I know I have an obligation, I want to support my son, and as soon as I have some money I'll send it. I simply don't have any money. Why can't she understand that? Besides, what happened to the $20,000 cash she had two months ago???

Anyway, my fear -- I fear the consequences of failure, but at the same time I have to face my fear of getting on the phone to talk to people, to sell, that I need to do to succeed. That has always been hard for me -- indeed, I've never succeeded at sales. I know I can do this, it really is what I want to do, yet I get tangled up in my own fears and what-ifs and insane sense that I deserve to fail, I'm worthless and whoever I'm talking to will know it instantly and have contempt for me. (Needless to say, that's never what actually happens.) I'm not one of these telemarketing mortgage dudes -- these are people I've talked with face-to-face, and they want to talk to me! Yet the fear and insanity remain...

And I've learned -- had to learn, very quickly -- a whole other dimension of "one day at a time," and how it relates to Step Three, where I slammed into the resistance of my self-will before going back out. One day at a time isn't just how I don't drink -- it's how I have to live my life. I have to turn my will and my life over to God every minute of every day, and let His power control my thoughts, my words, my actions. It's the only way I can push my self-will aside -- the self-will that drives me to despair, failure, uselessness, and paralysis by worry about the future -- so that my mind, my body and my mouth do, right now, the things I need to do so that I can get myself back on my feet. If I can quit worrying about what will or won't or might or might not happen in the future, I can be free to do the right thing today, and let God take care of the future. Otherwise I will procrastinate until I am assured of failure.

It's a very difficult thing for me to do. I've spent a good part of the last couple days procrastinating. Again, I'm trying to forget about that, too. All I have is right now. I know what I need to do in the next 24 hours. I pray that God will guide me, my words, my thoughts, my actions, and take away my fears and protect me from my self-will, so that I can and will do the things that He wants me to do.