It’s Thanksgiving and my husband and my sober AA friend and his family are having a traditional thanksgiving meal….at the Irish Bar across the street from where we live. We did this last year and I think I was drinking IPAs at the time trying to moderate and not knowing my sober friend was a sober AA friend. “And more will be revealed.”
Thanksgiving used to be my favorite holiday, is my favorite holiday? I have liked how it hasn’t become commercialized like Christmas and it can be about sharing food from the Americas, being grateful for what one has in life and brining people together. (ignoring the genocide and the betrayal of the people who shared their harvests)
Right now I’m a little bummed about not drinking IPAs. I’m bummed that my Thanksgiving options are choosing between bars that are offering it up. It brings up childhood thanksgivings where my mom made the whole perfect thanksgiving dinner for the extended family at the expense of her having no fun at all. But I also have beautiful thanksgiving memories at my grandma’s house, in numerous countries, with Husband before we even kissed. I’m not bummed really about the IPAs, I think I’m just ho-hummed this week in general.
This is the time to channel gratitude. Make the time (this time, this day, this life) what I want it to be, hold up the mixed bag of memories and say thank you and hello to all that went into it so I could be here on this bus in China, healthy, sober, safe and more in my life than I ever have been previously.
I woke up angry today. Not helping was waking up 15 minutes late with an accidental snooze and the fish tank filter sputtering for attention. So I didn’t do my yoga practice. I then yelled at the dogs for walking so fucking slow, seriously. My anger is leftover from yesterday’s conversation with a colleague that left me feeling put on, put out, powerless, bullied, angry at others for not doing their jobs and unappreciated all wrapped up together. There is a bundle of resentments to unpack! While my situation exacerbates my feelings, they are my feelings. These are not new feelings or feelings unique to this work place. I need to go inward and work on that instead of deflecting it on to others.
I’ve started step 4, and started working through my resentments with my dad. Much of those resentments are scattered throughout this blog and revisiting them have been emotional. No matter how much I think I’ve let it go, my emotions are still strong over my experiences as a child.
I have let those feelings seep into all aspects of my life and just like my current mood, they are my feelings and they will surface and seep into unrelated relationships when I am not being vigilant. They are outdated and reactive to a danger that is true but not real anymore. That is my contribution to the resentments I hold.
Maybe a sign of progress is that even I’m tired of digging through my childhood traumas. I know enough of the details to see the patterns that have been imprinted on me: I didn’t feel emotionally safe, I’m angry that I wasn’t take care of by the adults and made to feel inadequate for their love.
I might switch my focus from the tired examination of my dad’s faults to look at my current resentments. I bet that what I resent about people now will be refractions of my mom and dad’s faults and how they made me feel growing up.
I feel better now that I have written this out. Thanks blog!
Last night I spoke to my new sponsor for the first time. While it was an initial conversation, I felt so comfortable that I knew early into the chat that she was would be a sponsor that would support me and that I could learn from. I ended that conversation inspired, hopeful and so very grateful that our paths had crossed in Hong Kong. She gave me some good tips and open-ended ideas for approaching Step 4. And she told me I couldn’t do it wrong, how refreshing! One approach she talked about was focusing on one person at a time to try to get it all out. And Dad seems to be a good place to start.
This morning, I did my normal reading from The Book of Awakening and it really couldn’t have been more perfectly aligned with my diving into Step Four:
This past week-end I went to Hong Kong for a workshop and it happened to be the same week-end as the AA Hong Kong Convention. I wouldn’t have traveled to Hong Kong for it, I know myself, but I was there and should check it out, right? Again, I had such trepidation about it and at many points along the way I was tempted to abandon ship and wander around Hong Kong some more. But I made it there and I’m so glad that I did.
It did what it was supposed to do: make me feel connected to a caring community who sees me for the struggles I have had and the strength I tap to create a more authentic life without drinking. Speakers who shared their stories about the lows of their lives and the shame of their behavior and what they have done to make amends with others and the most difficult: themselves. I felt the magic of AA this time around and how it offers support in a way that addicts can accept and that they need. I saw the love, it all its odd forms, from people who have some years to those who were there shaken and uncertain in their decision and in themselves. The amount of gratitude I heard from people towards AA was so powerful: thank you, thank you, thank you…I might not be alive if it wasn’t for my sponsor, my group, my people, a loving God, a higher power…
There was a workshop for walking through Steps 4 and 5 and I joined a table that was all women with intention. Stapled worksheets were passed out, people talked about approaches, their experiences, the purposes of it, variations. So helpful, even in the face of how daunting the inventory tasks seem: resentments of people, then institutions and groups, then principals, then fears, then harms I caused others. The following day, Ann, an American, who is also based in China, came to me to offer her help with Step 4. She heard my brief sharing how I got stuck on the steps with a sponsor who told me I was doing it wrong and how I have let it stall my progress. We have a video call tonight to get to know each other and approach step 4. If things go well I hope to take her on as my sponsor. It feels like a big deal.
I keep hearing more and more about how much happiness is connected to relationships. I get it and I believe it BUT I feel stuck with building better community connections. Let me map out some of my obstacles and then discuss how I plan to get around them, theoretically.
God damn I am a wet blanket! I used to be so much more fun!
Why do want to host friends over anyways?
Ways around the obstacles:
I used to drink with the best of them, but I don't anymore. My life is so much better for it.
-Drinking: A Love Story by Caroline Knapp