Yesterday I had what might have been close to a panic attack. I never have had a panic attack (except for one brief moment of panic right after 9/11), so maybe I don’t know what one is. I got home from work and felt lonely, which is unusual for me. I checked the mail and have many frightening bills (including the IRS and State Revenue) that I don’t know how I am going to pay. I talked to my always nice neighbor who was panicked herself about having offended another neighbor and friend. I turned on the television and saw, for the 50th time, the bodies of dead children in Syria. I changed the channel to desperately try to avoid this harsh reality, and was greeted by commercials hawking cures for dread illnesses – usually of people my age and slightly older.
I thought about getting older with dread and fear – these are not my normal attitudes about aging.
A very dear old friend is in the hospital. I need to go see him today. He was admitted on Friday for observation. On Sunday night he had a quadruple bypass. He is just slightly older than I am, and in what I thought very good physical condition. We used to run races together back in the 90s.
I called my sponsor. When she answered the phone I thought she either had a cold or had been crying. When I asked how she was, I realized she was crying. Her nephew had been killed in a motorcycle accident. I listened to her for a long time and murmured sympathetically. She finally said “Aren’t you glad you called?” and I could answer honestly that I was more grateful than words could say for her friendship and that I was honored to be there for her in a time of need.
I went to bed at 8 o’clock. But had terrible dreams and woke at three after the worst nightmare and was unable to get back to sleep. Dead children in my dreams. This TV must be silenced forever. I deeply care about what is going on in the world, but cannot have dead children in my face several times a day. I was considering canceling my dish network account, I will check into that pronto. I live in a place with absolutely no television reception without cable or dish, so this will change my life. And maybe that is a good thing.
And now I change the subject for a moment. I decided to go with this blog because I felt that I could no longer be an apologist for the organization I belong to. I hate so much of what is going on there now. I feel like a relic there. No one wants to hear from an old lady who has been sober for a while. People are stubbornly clinging to their atheism, and we all bend over and bow to their freedom to do so. Yes, they are free to do so. But I would like to see that respect of different views reciprocated. It isn’t.
I dare not talk about how long I have been sober, because people tune me out the minute they realize it. I have come to feel apologetic about my length of sobriety as if even saying it is being arrogant or prideful. Believe me, I never say “I” stayed sober. I am always clear that I am sober BY THE GRACE OF GOD. And that is not just a cute phrase I use. It is the truth.
I have come to undervalue my sobriety and I think that is a dangerous thing. I met with a physician recently and told him a bit of my story. He was dumbfounded at what transformation had occurred in my life. I cried because I totally forget this. He asked me to write a letter of recommendation for myself, detailing my history. I cried more. You mean I can acknowledge my sobriety, my life, my journey without offending someone?
It is not humility to act as if you are someone you are not in order to not offend someone. It is dishonest and manipulative.
I have had a sign on my bulletin board since I left my husband in 1993. It says:
Never, for the sake of peace and quiet, deny your own experiences or convictions. — Dag Hammarskjold