Tag Archives: Marriage

Clean and Sober

Today I reach a milestone: I have been clean and sober for 35 years. I have lived more than half my life with a spiritual program that keeps me without drugs or alcohol—one day at a time.

I find it inconceivable that it has been 35 years since I had a beer or smoked a joint. Inconceivable!  (And yes, I know what that means.)

It is easier for me to believe that I got drunk last week and have been lying about it.

But it’s true. 35 years.

These have been monumental years. Years of amazing accomplishments, personal and spiritual growth.

As with everyone my age, big events have taken place. Marriages, divorces, births, deaths, creative accolades, cancers. Huge events. Emotional events. Certainly events worth drinking over, either in grief or in celebration.

truth and loveLife is not easy. But sobriety is its own reward.

All of these major life events are the stuff of the human experience, and I have been fortunate enough to be present and clear-headed for it all.

I think that’s our reason for being: to experience the human condition in all its intricacies.  Booze and drugs gloss over those intricacies, dull those edges, flatten out those highs and lows, fill in the cracks wherein we might mine for the gold placed precisely there for precisely us.

Drinking and drugging is a waste of time, a waste of money, and a waste of personality.

I am beyond fortunate. I am one of the very fortunate ones who have been able to get sober and stay sober. God willing, I will die sober. But I am in the minority. Drug and alcohol addiction is so sneaky, so calmly patient and doggedly persistent, that when we falter, it is there, waiting with a “fix” to whatever transient problem catches us at a weak moment.

But those aren’t fixes. They’re insulators. They’re a horror show in a bottle. They’re death by slow torture, and they take all our loved ones down with us.

I may be 35 years clean and sober, but I am only one drink away from disaster, and I think about that every single day.

Today I will go to a meeting and share my experience, strength and hope: If I can do it, you can do it. And that is absolutely true.

And then I will go about my life, living in gratitude. I am not only grateful for everything that I’ve been given in life, but grateful for every mind-altering substance I ingested that brought me to my knees and introduced me to the spiritual program that gives me solid tools for living.

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An American Story

I’ve been a big fan of Dave Ramsey’s for some time.

This spring I’m counseling engaged couples before their nuptials, and I’m giving each couple a copy of his book The Total Money Makeover, because kids today have the sex part down, but they’re clueless about money and debt. They’re not even married and they’ve already got “manageable” debt. Whoa.

I’ve been in trouble with credit cards twice in my life: once as a young adult, flush with the newfound power of credit, and another time when I was in a bit of a personal crisis, and I saw credit cards as my only way through the problem. It wasn’t, but I survived. Other than that, debt has been minimal, usually confined to car payments and the occasional vacation, and closely monitored.

For this, I have my parents to thank. They taught me well about saving, investing and credit. I had to make a few mistakes on my own — don’t we all — but I learned my lessons in the process.

The Dave Ramsey Show on television and radio is a sobering glimpse into the lives of  most Americans.  I listen with empathy and astonishment as these people seek financial counseling for the terrible situations they’ve gotten themselves into. And I personally know many people who have piled on debt without a clue as to how to dig themselves out.

On Dave’s website yesterday, I watched this video, and it blew me away. Obviously, it was made a couple of years ago, as his numbers are a little off, considering today’s economic climate, but the point is still the point.

And then I found this blog. It’s not so much a testimony to Dave Ramsey and his techniques as it is an inspirational look at two parents pulling themselves up out of an uncomfortable, untenable, and unsustainable situation. Together, as partners.

Debt is insidious. Al and I talked about our truck payment last night and decided that enough is enough. As quickly as possible, we’re going to dispatch that bastard and never have another’n.  No matter what the car lots would have you believe, car payments are not a requirement for a happy life.  They’re not a requirement, period.

Life is a lot better with money in the bank instead of bills coming through the door.  Dave calls it Financial Peace.

He’s right.

Dave Ramsey is not my guru, but boy, does he speak the truth about many things. If you’re not familiar with his philosophy on money, it’s worth checking out.

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Filed under Discipline, goals, Marriage, Money

What a summer

I’ve been a practicum student at Serenity Lane this summer, a drug and alcohol treatment facility in town, working with the chaplain as she ministers to the spirits of the patients. What an education that has been! Yikes. I see myself in so many of them — their eyes, their stories, their fears, their shame. I identify and empathize, and yet I know the other side of that misery as well. If only they will stick with it, if only they could glimpse what I know to be true about a clean and sober life…

If only that insecure but talented writer could keep the faith and keep putting the butt in the chair and keep pumping out the words. If only they could glimpse what I know about successes as a writer…

If only that young married couple could stick it out, reach deep and find the reasons they were attracted to each other in the beginning, and rekindle that respect for each other. If only they could glimpse what I know about the sublime pleasure in a long satisfying marriage…

These are the pleasures of age.

I am one of the extraordinarily fortunate ones, and I am grateful every second of every minute. The question now is how to share the knowledge in a meaningful way. Other than walking the talk–which I try to do, and accomplish with varying levels of success–that is the current quest.

But more will be revealed, if I suit up and show up, and that’s what I’m doing.

What a summer.

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Thinking about prayer…

Prayer is an interesting thing.

In my spiritual program, we’re told to pray only for knowledge of God’s will in our lives and the power to carry that out. That has served me well all these years. I try not to petition for things, as I believe we all have our paths, we all have a different journey, and there’s no way I know what your journey is, so it would be impudent for me to make requests.

And yet…

My sweet ex-husband, Evan, one of my favorite people on the planet and still one of my closest and dearest friends, had devastating surgery yesterday. I found myself asking everybody to pray for him. This is his third disfiguring, life-threatening battle with cancer, and nobody expected him to be around come 1985, much less 2008. He knows he’s been living on borrowed time and that has given him a great sense of humor about it all and a fragrance of gratitude that is pleasant to be around.

Evan and I raised two stellar kids together. We were not good mates, but we are great friends. When our marriage began to crumble back in 1990, we decided to jettison the marriage before it ruined our friendship. That was a good call. We’ve both moved on to excellent relationships, and remain close with each other and our kids and grandkids. The thought of losing him makes me crazy.

And yet how much more can we expect him to endure?

So when I ask you to pray for him today, I’m asking you to pray so he has knowledge of God’s will in his life and the power to carry that out.

That’s all.

That’s enough.

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