Counting Down the Days

Working and going to college full-time can be quite a stressful situation. One misstep, your behind and find yourself struggling to get back things back to current. Yet, when you put your mind to it, you can gain that momentum back to take a breath of fresh air. With a couple weeks left, the end is near. So is the end of 2020 and a much needed vacation from everything.

When I started this term, I thought it wouldn’t be difficult at all. It’s only two classes. You got this! Oh, how I was so wrong. My confidence was slipping. I was at a point where I was contemplating not returning next term. I honestly didn’t want the additional stress in my life. What was the point?

As I concentrated on a rough draft of my persuasive essay for English, I got behind a week in my math class. Then the walls really started to close in. Then the debates stated with myself. Why are we doing this to ourselves? We know better. Are you going to let history repeat itself? Or are you going to take this as a lesson to learn from the past to challenge yourself to do better and change?

Got home today from work, sat down to concentrate on my two math assignments and a discussion. As typical with classes, the first have is a review while the second is typically new material. Now it’s a little more challenging, however I got what I needed done for the week. Now I’m current. I can breathe.

The year of 2020 was challenging. However, those days too are starting to dwindle. Started a new job, moved into my own place, and started college. I forgot I put in a vacation request for the end of December. A notification arrived this morning it was approved. It’s just four days from Dec 27 to Dec 30 because I have to work ‘key’ dates. The college term ends the week before, so I’ll be free to catch up on other things I have put aside – small house projects.

The point I guess I’m trying to get across to myself is my own self-doubt. Despite some negative things going on (mainly work), I have the ability to make things happen. Concentration and determination. I can’t falter now. The end is right around the corner.

Back to Normality

My mini-vacation was a breath of fresh air. My Sponsor and I went to visit his brother in Orange County, New York.  They have a large recovery community which I look forward to every time we plan such a trip. It’s nice to hear new ways people are handling their own recovery.

On our ride to Orange County, there is nothing by small towns in the valleys of large mountains.  As we twist between the giants, all I can think of are questions never to be answered. Who once lived here? How long ago?  What did they do? What did it look like back then?  Oh how I would love to live in a house in the middle of no where with nothing by a river flowing below me and the thick forest around me. Perhaps one day my dream will become a reality? We always stop in Roscoe, New York, half way between home and our destination. “Trout Town USA” it’s labeled.  According to the 2010 census, 510 inhabitants that live around the Willowemoc River that flows right beside State Route 17. It puts me at peace that such beauty still exists in this world. Once we hit Monticello, New York, we thrust back into reality as the merging traffic from the north and south impede on our travels.  Eventually we get to our destination.

Recovery meetings are typically in the morning, afternoon and night.  We just missed the afternoon meeting, so we typically take a nap but a quick storm pushed through with high sidway winds, buckets of rain, tornado warnings west of us and a really nice lighting show. The rain hadn’t let up as we walked across the street to our meeting.

As mentioned before, the meeting formats and styles are different.  This evening was an anniversary meeting – one lady with 20 years of sobriety, the other gentleman with 26 years of sobriety. There was a speaker afterward with just four years of sobriety. I left the meeting inspired. Sunday, the cold temperatures returned.  We attended a meeting in another town close by, one I had never attended yet.  Here we introduced ourselves, our sobriety date, as well as “how you are doing today”.  The topic was gratitude.

When the chance to speak got to me, I wasn’t sure what I was going to say, so I just opened my mouth and let things happen from the heart.  I explained “I don’t do this enough and I should. I thank my Sponsor today for saving my life not once but twice.” First, nine years ago when he offered to take me through the Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous and continues to be with me today.  Second, a recent incident (as already explained here) where I had a very strong fear of drinking, something I had not felt so strong in my nine years of sobriety. My Sponsor thanked me later for my kind words.

Then it was over and we were heading home. I was looking forward to watching the NASCAR race.  In Roscoe, New York, we stopped at the local diner for coffee and a donut where they had the festivities of the NASCAR race on TV. Another hour and we where home.

I haven’t been following all the new rules with NASCAR this year.  Apparently they have split the races in three “stages” giving points to drivers on their abilities during the race.  Dale Jr (#88) started in second position but due to a crash was eliminated after his 5 minute “crash” pit stop because he couldn’t maintain a speed of 160 mph when he got back on the track.  I turned off the TV later to return to find that Chase Elliot (#24, Jeff Gordon’s old number) was leading the race.  Earnhardt was talking to Chase giving him tips earlier and it appeared he may even win the race.  Unfortunately, another driver “pushed” him out of the way in the last couple of laps of the race. I watched the race to its end. Oh well, there is always next week.

Now it’s Monday and it doesn’t feel like a Monday. Unfortunately I have to return to the mundane normality I call “life”. Sadly, I can’t wait for Thursday to get here, my next day off, so I can do the things I was suppose to do yesterday after the race.  I ended falling asleep early and I’ve been up since 8 a.m.  This is going to be an interesting day.


A Reprieve – Mini Vacation

These days it is very rare I’m able to travel out of town. Typically I have sporadic days off.  Those change like the wind due to staffing issues at work.  I took the opportunity to “request” this weekend off some time ago. Thankfully I’m able to travel out of town to my Sponsor’s brother’s home near New York City. Trips such as this gives me a reprieve from the monotony found in my own recovery community.

Like my Sponsor, his brother has over 25 years of sobriety. His brother is also a very active member of his recovery community.  Whenever we have a chance to visit, he ensures that we receive a warm welcome back.  Many times it’s as we never left, though it’s been at least six months since (my) last visit.

The differences between our local meetings and my Sponsor’s brother’s meetings are like night and day.  For one, they have 100’s of  years of continuous sobriety, whereas at local meetings there are only a couple of meetings where “old timers” attend. Second, meeting formats are completely different.  For instance at many meetings you say your name, “I’m an alcoholic” and your sobriety date. This is not for boasting but an indication for new comers if they work their program, long term sobriety is possible.  Unless it is a “Young People’s” meeting, typically those with less than a year of sobriety are encouraged just to listen.  In other words, you don’t hear about someone with a couple of months of sobriety relapsed yet again and again, yet they can spout their “knowledge” of how the program works. Hence the reason “old timers” where I’m from typically have meetings elsewhere.  Don’t get me wrong, my community does not shun a new comer.  However, when we see the same people come in and out of the program, again and again, hearing the same thing like a broken record, I just want to stand up to say, “Shut up, sit down and listen.  Obviously you don’t know anything.”

Their recovery community always has special events.  There is always a local workshop, recovery activity (baseball, basketball, softball game) or someone is throwing a sobriety anniversary party.  While my community tries, many times they fail. For instance, a gentleman owns a home on a lake who throws a picnic three times a year:  Memorial Day, July 4th and Labor Day. Everyone brings something, so there is never a shortage of food or non-alcoholic drinks. The workshops are amazing.  Very good topics, speakers due to large attendances and good planning.

Jealous?  Yes, yes I am.  Since my first attendance “down State”, I have dreamed my own recovery community could become such a strong community. It will never happen.  The commitment to almost anything is slim to nil. It’s unfortunate. But I’ve realized that I play my own part in my recovery community doing the best that I can for those that care to listen.

Basically the trip is one giant vacation for me. Something based on recent events I desperately need right now. Despite the impending weather (heavy rain, thunderstorms, wind and afterward cold temperatures and possible low accumulation of snow) we are committed to make this trip happen today. It’s a four hour drive. We stop in Roscoe, New York for a break (coffee and a donut and/or lunch) getting there for the afternoon and evening meetings.

I haven’t been this excited in a long time. Even when I get back there is another reward!  The 2017 NASCAR season starts tonight. I couldn’t ask for anything more 🙂