April 15, 2014

Can I Be a Companion On the Path?

Back last spring, I got myself sidetracked in my program, with emails in which I was acting protective towards (what I thought was) a group conscience.  I wanted to see folks able to be open and discuss problems they had in Sponsorship. I  knew that folks did this successfully in mature AA groups, face to face. I thought our online group had built trust and could do the same.

I was wrong.  There are probably many reasons. One of which is that in an online group (without video or voice), words can fail. Intentions can be attributed to a person, no matter how careful the wording. And believe me, my wording was careful.  

But I also spoke up several times sharing  my experiences with Sponsorship, trying to be keep the discussion alive in  the spirit of learning, together.  Yes. I went there…  And in this group, folks carefully avoid conflict, to the point that a lot of stuff goes on privately, behind the scenes. We don't learn together much. Not on the open forum. Which is why I kept my communication almost entirely public.

While others did not. And reported me.  Yep. Then I got read the riot act, when the only mistake I made was to care. Yes. Perhaps too much.  I wanted us to show each other we could have a civil conversation openly, and well, I failed to demonstrate that…

And in the end, I was censored and the person who had issues with me, left our community.

I stayed, went through moderation, and six months later, this person is back. 

I wonder whether the best thing is for me to leave.  When I think about sharing in this community, I have this sense I will be walking on eggshells… and that others (who actually think I was bullying this person)…. are going to spot me doing something wrong. Complain about me for things I share…. unless I watch my every move…

I am afraid that I will get into trouble again, or trigger the person without meaning to.  Just by being me.

That's just fear speaking, I see that.  But it speaks loudly, as I have been burnt by this person too. I know we are both different sides of the same coin… but I have lost my faith in being able to communicate that, to her.  

Facing West… into Life, with K

I need to share that my friend, K, is facing the challenge of cancer. 

I am very grateful to know that our calls, and occasional texts, are not an intrusion.  For me, each one gives me a chance to realize my own, more minor health concerns, are exactly that. Minor, and passing…

I face whatever parts of her journey she wants to share, or has stamina to share.   It is all on her call, and her time framework.

 Last week, she shared honestly with me about the details of chemo treatment. So, I know she wore her treatment pack to bed with her. (Of course, I am using my own language to say this, and it will be full of errors). I picture her finding comfort that this medicine is fighting a battle for her, while she sleeps. If I understood correctly, the chemo is going to be done in a few days every two weeks. My friend has been told she likely won't lose any hair. But she is beyond all that. She wants life, and can let go of her hair, for now.

Still, I like picturing that she may keep her locks. May she keep her smile and her humor… and prevail... 

March 25, 2014

Friends in Limbo

I'm not speaking to my friend K much, lately.  Not because I don't want to, but because I am afraid to.

Calling her, right now, means butting into the most challenging journey of her life. I think.

Calling her has been a comfort, a balm, a reassurance, for years now. How many years? I am not sure where to begin counting. She and I have only met once, face to face, long enough to say hi and to exchange a hug. She has told me that I am like a little sister to her. I think I finally  know what that means. Even though I have never had, nor been, a little sister by birth.

K calls me, of course, though not as often as I call her. Because she is the closest person to a Sponsor that I have ever had in my program walk.  (I suspect, Sponsees call more often than Sponsors do, as a rule.)  

But K never took on that "assignment." She always tells folks who ask if she will sponsor them, that she prefers friendships. And she means it.  In the best way.

So now, my Sponsor Friend is navigating one of those kind of cancers that only get attention when they are well on their way. Quiet cancers that show up suddenly, and cause all kinds of havoc. 

I can't imagine not calling K, at the drop of a hat (but before seven in the evening her time, she's an early bird).  I can't imagine not calling her spontaneously, because that is the only way she would have it. Nothing prearranged.

But now it's all changed. Now I wait on a reply to a text (when I dare) and try not to be an intruder.

Today she met her oncologist; he feels like a good guy to her. Soon, there may a diagnosis to go on. I am praying for the universe to its healing work...

March 24, 2014

Beginning Where I Am

This first part of my year has flown by!

My focus has been on  a writing course and on the "coincidence" of several deadlines at the very end of February. It brought me so much joy to be in the swing of my passion, writing.

As that ended, I switched my focus to Spring break and a rendezvous with friends in Georgia, exploring the trails and historical footprint of Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the days before (and after) he sought treatment for the polio that attacked his lower body in his late 30's. It is a miracle that the man went back into politics, at all, to return to New York to become governor. And then,  use what he learned about the Depression (ravaged soils, poor families, no electricity on the farms) from folks in Georgia, who were living the worst times ahead of the rest of America--to help bring Americans together when he was president during 30's and 40's of last century.

I have something to say here, that I cannot share easily, that is personal and involves a dear friend. That friend has never been my Sponsor (she does not believe in that role, for herself), but she has been a big sister to me for almost a decade. We have only met once, but I call on her for things big and small, that affect how I deal with emotional upsets and with sharing my program walk with others. 

My friend is in the process of being diagnosed with cancer. It is not one with great statistics.  It is in one of those more silent organs that often only gets our attention, too late.  I am so wanting to stay in touch with her and support her, but I know that her challenges limit her energy even more than usual.

I've no wish to burden her with my more petty mundane problems. Nor do I wish to play Pollyanna. Asking how she is doing … seems like it could get old. 

She is so important in my life!  But I don't know how, exactly, to be "normal" with her and do the small talk thing (which she is actually gifted in).  Right now she needs to take care of herself. She also needs to stay positive, and ignore the statistics. 

I feel so blessed to have seen an email response she shared on a forum to which we both belong. I have not seen her there in weeks, so even her short post (not at all focused on herself, giving no glimpse of her health concerns) gave me great joy.  

I loved K's  simple signature quote: "I am a statistic of one, no more, no less."  I love and cherish her spirit!

December 30, 2013

Twists and Turns of December

What is the most important thing to celebrate in this twelfth month of the year?

I am glad we have my husband's family visiting us. Yes, I feel challenged emotionally by this.  But I am learning a lot, about myself.  It is humbling!

What are the quirks of this visit? Well, DS began hiding in his room from Day One, as he is a teen in high school and feels the intimacy of our house as being too small, for two guests, even if they are his grammie and aunt. 

We celebrate German-style decorating our tree on Christmas Eve.  On the 19th (which is early for us), we had to leap at the opportunity to buy the penultimate tree at Home Depot. At least our tree was green.....DH immediately described our Christmas tree as the ugliest we have ever had. He said it more than once. It was two days before our tree began to drink water, it had been so long removed from life support.

When we finally got a wee bit of spirit for decorating two days later, I tried different wording:  "It's a Charlie Brown tree," hoping it would lighten the mood.  

Speaking of lighting--every year I hold my breath anticipating a string of lights with a dud in them. This year, was the year, my dread was reality. The blessing? Our Charlie Brown was so small this year that one string was enough!

But the best relief laugh so far, was the cot that I ordered, special, from a major camping retailer, that my was to be bed for my sis-in-law. I ordered it at Thanksgiving.  It still has not come.   Our guests leave on the 2nd of January.  When I called to find out when it might arrive, I was told it would be in the warehouse on January 3rd.  Uh-huh.

Blessing was that a friend in our new home town offered to loan us a blow-up cot, before she took off out of state on the 21st.  Thank you thank you thank you, Elizabeth!  I owe you.  

Every time I see our cat sleeping on my sis-in-law's bed, your cot reminds me that all really is OK. The white lights on our tree continue to glow.  Our son comes out of his lair when he feels up to it. Everything really CAN work out, if I just step out of the way.

And don't judge.

November 27, 2013

Only Us, To Be Thankful For

There is this part of me that thinks I should be more social; have friends over for the feast to come, tomorrow.  Shouldn't I have become more social and outgoing, in moving to Tennessippi?

What did our family of three do last year, our first Thanksgiving after being transplanted to the land of William Faulkner and Elvis Presley?  Last year, it seemed OK that it was just me,  my husband and son, and our cat, Teu. 

This year, I kind of thought we would travel to Colorado where our son has cousins we'd like him to stay close to.  Or, maybe we would have gone "back home" to our old haunts a time zone east of us. We'd be welcomed at a lot of places, but a few weeks ago, the idea of travel seemed like such a sttttrrreeetttcchhhh..

Just as well, because the traveling vehicle, the 1999 sedan with its leather seats and leg room and bottomless trunk for luggage, was involved in an accident. I slid into a person who had decided to stop on a yellow light, and either she stopped in the middle of the intersection or I pushed her into it. It was hard to tell, it happened so fast and the pavement was wet.

(I was not alone in having an accident at that time of day, enroute to picking our son up from school:  within the same hour, four accidents happened within a mile of that intersection.)

But any travel plans we would have made would have required us renting a vehicle: with one of the front headlights out, on these short days, driving any long distance would have made us risky drivers. 

So home it is, with our smashed car, our 17 pound turkey, three pies, and all the side dishes, and no one to share it with.  Well, I guess I had better reframe that, right?

It is a time of abundance for our family and a time of gratitude that we are safe under one roof. With cold weather and sunshine expected tomorrow, we'll enjoy cosy time inside and a bracing walk after dinner (if we want to waddle out for  a breath of air.)

If I focus on what is good, whole and complete, life is good.

November 13, 2013

Journaling, My Nemesis?

I am grateful that my writing practices are basically positive ones.  At this point in my life, I am not finding journaling to be that helpful. In fact, every key stroke that I type and every bit of handwriting, will create pain in my elbow, arm, and hand. I am grateful to be getting better, but.. getting better necessitates that I limit my writing time.  

Ironic for a writer. 

Last night,  I called a friend in program, to get perspective because my thoughts were circling round the drain.   I had wanted to cry. When she heard this,  she thought journaling would help me. I found myself telling her, that I typically write when I am feeling good, and that I've not journaled in awhile.   

I don't think she really understood that I write every day already.   I know have to feel good physically to write, or I will end up with problems in my right arm. So I limit writing time on screen to productive positive writing, typically. 

Journaling, I have done lots of.  I love what I find in my past writing.  But by my mid-30's I found that writing out my life when I feel down and confused can take me around in a big endless loop. Anyone recognize that pattern and found a better way to journal?  Let me know!

It is just that for now,  my body says no to this particular labor with words.  "Problem" writing comes at the expense of the writing that feeds me.  Rather than explaining that or naysaying her positive idea, I did my best to move our conversation on. 

Since I need to be careful in using my right arm (my dominant one) to write out problems, maybe I could  just compose a simple list, of all my problems, using my left hand.
I will read it out loud, without commentary and ask myself out loud what I can be grateful for. 

Then I will use my body to do other things than write.  

God willing, later I will feel up to working a half hour on that essay I have due on Sunday. Mulling over my topic choice might be better done offscreen....