AA Rule 62 – “Don’t take yourself too seriously.”

This is another focus I’ve concentrated on during this sobriety. In the past I had a tendency to put high expectations on people and myself only to wallow in frustration, anger, sometimes resentment when my expectations weren’t met. Today I’m aware just how much I’ve changed.

My first sponsor hit the nail on the head every time, “Mike, you’re to damn seriously.” I just couldn’t see it no matter how many times he said it to me. He also reminded me, though I didn’t really practice it, “If you don’t put out high expectations, you can’t be disappointed.” Like other sayings, this still rings in my head when I get in one of my moods.

For example, last night at work a co-worker and I had a discussion about how the job could be easier for us, if this or that person did this or that. Old me would have put 200% of my thoughts in the whole conversation getting frustrated and angry why it couldn’t be this way. I caught myself right there. I simply nodded and said, “Okay”. When at work in the past old me would have looked at the day expecting to get everything done exceeding what was expected of me. At the end of the day when I didn’t get what I want accomplished, I would get down on myself sinking myself into a pit of despair.

I don’t think I’ve ever been this relaxed at work. I literally go in with no expectations at all. As with many jobs, we have production goals per day. There are a set amount of hours expected to do certain jobs. I’m certainly not lazy, I do my job. Though I may be new to this whole experience, I still push towards those expected goals. Last night, I actually got all pallets and carts stocked, cardboard and pallets off the floor two hours earlier than the previous day. At one point I didn’t think I would get things done because I noticed I put a few things in the wrong places and had to switch things around. I was actually proud of myself for getting all that done. But again, I’m not going to expect myself to do this night after night. I have to be comfortable doing a job to the best of my ability and not worrying what others think, especially myself. I’m to get the job done, not be a show off. If the employer doesn’t feel I meet their expectations in the future, I have to be comfortable that perhaps it’s just not the right job for me. But such a though doesn’t mean its okay to slack off. I still have to push myself.

I’ve also noticed when I get home I actually relax. Instead of jumping on the computer to get this and that done, I watch some early morning news – even though I’m really not paying attention. The old me use to get immediately on the computer to do this and that, then get so overwhelmed when I didn’t get what I wanted done. “Rome didn’t get build it a day”. “Does it have to be done right now? Does it have to be done by me? Does it have to be done at all?” No, no and no. In my head, I still think, “Oh my God, this, this, this, this and this, I can’t get it all done right now. NOT – failed each and every time. Usually I’ll fix my dinner after watching some boring news cycle, then take a shower and head to bed. Unwinding from the day is something I don’t think I really did in my past.

The program of Alcoholics Anonymous has given me so many tools to use to change my life, if I’m willing to use them. I can be stubborn sometimes. I screw up and fall back to old ways. I now have a better awareness of my destructive behaviors. I’m learning how to change them. That is progress not perfection.

Slow Acting Poison

As typical with nursing homes, we are short staffed, especially on the second shift (3 p.m. to 11 p.m.) Last night I worked another 16 hour shift. Working at least one 16 hour day per week besides the 4 day, 12 hour work week is becoming the norm.  I am not the only one, as there is a large amount of stress for us all. However, when your co-workers act like children from high school moaning and groaning because they didn’t get what they wanted, my blood just boils. In this type of environment, when people are stretched thin, things just don’t get done. In the end, it’s the residents that suffer. So here I am thinking about calling in sick – but I won’t. It’s times like this I look at my last ten years of sobriety for answers.

For instance, when I got sober, I made a commitment to myself – no matter how bad things got, I would not drink. The various slogans of the program come into play. Yet no matter how much I spin this one or that one, it just doesn’t seem to work.For now, I feel like I’m white knuckling through it.

On a daily basis I’m saying the Serenity Prayer right before I go into work:

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

No matter how much I try to ignore all the negativity, it’s like a small acting poison. Day after day my frustration and anger just build breaking my strength to deal with the situations appropriately. Honestly, I have blown up at the wrong people and wrong places, yet I don’t regret my actions. I simply can’t ignore the transgressions of others. I have a responsibility set before me NOT to ignore them. Yet my concerns continue to fall on deaf ears.

For me, “Let Go, Let God” hasn’t been much successful either. I can’t change people or the situations before me. I have done what needs to be done – my responsibility, therefore I need to trust that God will take care of business. While I do understand such changes may not happen overnight, in a week, month or even a year, eventually I trust that God will take over. In the meantime, I’m the one that continues to be miserable.

No offense, but my ex-Sponsor, “Spiritual Advisor” or whatever he likes to call himself these days is also not much help at all.  Unfortunately, at this time he’s the only one I have a phone call away but I don’t bother to call him. While I feel he doesn’t understand what I’m going through, he just throws out, “Get another job.” I wish it was that easy.

I simply just don’t know what to do.

All I can fall back on for now is, “Just One Day at a Time”.

Forget the past, today is a new night at work, go in and get it done.

It’s a choice one has to make with anything in life: to either believe in yourself or allow yourself to be sucked into self-pity and feelings of self-doubt.”