Spinning Wheels and Slinging Mud

Recently, I watched a group of teenage boys attempt to push a pickup truck out of a boggy ditch along the side of the highway. A car was pulled off on the other side of the road and a distance behind. Two young girls hung out of the car’s windows, cell phones pointed in the direction of the truck, no doubt snapping pictures to share on the web. As I passed, I watched the truck’s wheels spin and no amount of youthful testosterone would push it free, at least not as I drove by.

I had to smile as I realized I was witnessing yet another metaphor for my life. Like that truck, I may think my all-terrain wheels can take me anywhere and I can maneuver through any landscape. I’m learning that barreling through soft spots isn’t always the wisest plan, however. There are times I need to put the vehicle in park and idle for a bit until conditions change.

Usually, though, I don’t realize I’m in the mud until I’m stuck and can’t get out on my own. Even then my reinforcements aren’t always able to help. As I spin my wheels, attracting an audience in my single-minded attempts to get free, at some point I must simply stop, rest, and cool my engine.

Finally, when I’m THIS close to throwing myself out of the cab, and stalk away in frustration, the tires catch on to something solid—thanks to a mighty effort behind me—and I’m out. Unstuck and once again flying down the highway.

A little more aware, a whole lot more grateful and relieved to once more be headed in the right direction.

What’s the Deal With the Blog Name?

I’ve been asked to explain how I named this blog; why B Here Today?

I am so glad you asked!  Thank you for the opportunity to write about one of my favorite topics:  Me!

Okay, in all seriousness, I would like to explain.  (Those who know me well, along with those who may not know me so well but they sit in meetings with me regularly, understand that I love to joke and have fun but I am deadly serious about the disease of addiction.).

When I moved from Missouri to Texas, I had a tough time going through the process of changing my residency.  I had no experience, having been born and raised in the Show-Me state.  Like so many bureaucratic endeavors, there seemed to be an endless array of steps to inspect my car, buy four new tires (before the inspection could be certified, and what is $600 additional bucks at that point?), register my car, obtain a driver’s license, obtain a license plate, pay all the fees, register to vote, and on and on.

The project was daunting and was made more so by my mile-wide stubborn streak, not to mention the way it punched all my trigger buttons of patience, relying on others, doing things in order, (the list goes on).

I did not want to let loose of my Missouri driver license or my personalized vehicle plate.  In fact, I waited more than six months to apply for my Texas driver license until I realized I was two weeks from my birthday and my Missouri license would expire.  Yikes!

I was visiting my folks in Missouri around that time and having a bemoaning conversation about all the steps it takes to move to a new state.  Dad said, “While you’re here, why don’t you just go renew your Missouri license?  Then when your license plate is due in July, you can come back here and renew it as well.  You wouldn’t have to lose your SURNDR plate.”   (I really loved that plate).

What a great and simple idea!  I loved my dad for giving me such an easy answer. 

But was it the right answer?  I took that thought to bed with me and let my subconscious mull it over during the night.  Bright and early the next morning, I awoke to this God whisper:  “Be here.” 

I was confused at first since I was waking up in my folks’ house.  Then I realized that God was whispering across the miles from Texas.  I couldn’t go on living my life in two places.  It was time to chose.
Thus, my Texas plate was born:  B Here.  I declined all the traditional background options like the Star of Texas, the Alamo, or God forbid, the Longhorn.  Instead, I chose a a field of bluebonnets.  To me, it symbolized being willing to bloom where I’d been planted.
photo courtesy of bombay2austin

So, I am Beth Here, B for short.  The name of this blog seemed like the next logical step from my vehicle plate.  And if you understand that line of thinking, I have a seat reserved for you . . .

In Missouri, I joked that I needed to have a license plate that read SURNDR so I would be reminded every time I approached my car that I needed to give everything to God.  In Texas, it’s a similar motive, both with my car and my blog.  First, I want to simply Be, an ongoing and often arduous task.  Second, I want to Be Here, reside in my present place and space in time.  Third, I want to Be Here Today, focused on this 24-hour period because as those of us with a recovery leaning know, we do best when we stay in one day at a time.
And finally, I shortened the Be to B to give the whole thing a double meaning.  I am, afterall, B, here.
All that’s left to tell about this story is that I cried in the driver license office when they kept my Missouri license.  I guess the tears helped water my new planting.

Bug lesson

I do not like bugs.  If it flies, crawls, buzzes or is pest-like in any way, I accept it’s right to live as a bug of God.  I’m a child of God, so fair is fair.

My general rule of thumb is if it does it’s bug thing outside and is not in my space or my food, then it can bug on.  If it’s inside my abode–wherever I may be aboding–and I can safely get it outside without causing myself or someone I love to suffer heart failure, then it gets to bug on.

If the above conditions cannot be met, then, well, you’ve got your dead bug.  Unless . . .

Earlier this week, you were a rather large cricket in the ladies room at the pedicure place I occasionally frequent (Ogre-the-Top Blue in honor of the new Shrek movie, in case you’re curious.)  I actually felt sorry for the ugly, long-legged thing.

She (remember, I was in the ladies room) was literally trying to climb the walls to get out of the corner and it was obviously a losing battle.

Boy, could I relate.

I have jammed myself into many corners without realizing that my escape route is behind me.  How often have predicaments loomed around me like slick walls meeting at 45-degree angles?

As I watched the cricket, I pondered how easy it would have been for her to simply turn around.  Or back away.  Instead, she kept pushing into the corner, occasionally and futilely stretching one leg up the wall. 

In my mind, I imagined her thinking that maybe this time it would be different.  Maybe she would find a small pit in the smooth surface on which to rise up.  Or maybe by some miracle, a small hole or crack would open for her to slip through.

I thought of the definition of insanity:  doing the same things over and over again, expecting different results.

I felt grateful for the gentle reminder, sent via an insect in a ladies room of a nail salon.

Then I turned around and left the way I’d gone in.

Waiting for a Miracle

I’ve been known to say in 12-step meetings, “If all I am today is sober, somebody please shoot me.”

I don’t want to just get by, to survive.  I want to thrive in sobriety as I deal with the proverbial life on life’s terms.  And thriving sometimes means hanging on with your fingertips to an idea that things won’t always be the way they are right now.

I’ve also been known to talk about this theory I have that many of us in sobriety are often more challenged by the dog gnawing through new sneakers or backing the car over the garbage can than on major life events.

But right now I think that theory sucks.  I also think that anyone who says in a meeting, “Honey, you’ll be all right.  You’re right where you need to be.  Remember, there are no big deals,” needs to be taken out back and whacked over the head with a Big Book.

There ARE big deals and staying sober through gut-wrenching pain may not necessarily be any more difficult than when you find your new Nikes between the dog’s paws, but it’s quite possibly more miraculous. 

I believe that a miracle is a shift in perception.  But sometimes shifting that perception–particularly when grief and loss is involved–is an overwhelming task that is far bigger than my abilities.  Talk about “what an order!  I can’t go through with it!”

Wouldn’t it be easier to simply react in the one way that comes naturally to me?  Of course it would–returning to my addiction would be a simple, if not cowardly, way of dealing with a boatload of emotional circumstances.  I’m told that my disease of addiction is lurking in that dark alley of despair, waiting for me to step in so that it can once again consume me.  But one valuable thing I’ve learned in these years of staying sober is that despair eventually passes.  Daylight does return to illumine the alley’s darkness so that I can clearly see that it’s not I place where I want to return.

The really cool thing about miracles is they do arrive.  I believe they are promises from God.  During those times when the darkness can’t possibly get any more pitch black, if I can simply hold on, my miracle will arrive.  Every single time it does–and in 19 years a miracle has always appeared at the exact moment it was supposed to, and always in spite of me–I am humbled, amazed and awed by God’s grace.

If you’re having a moment of darkness that seems to stretch into eternity, please wait.  I promise you that the miracle you need will arrive.

Avoiding the Void

How does one grow in spiritual understanding?

My sponsor pointed out to me last night that even after the alcoholic obsession is lifted, we still try to fill a so-called void with temporary fixes.  Food is the big one for me right now.

Then I justify and rationalize that I somehow deserve this one thing–ice cream, cake, M&Ms, whatever–as a payoff for all the emotional garbage I’m dealing with.

So here’s the question:  If I acknowledge that I’m behaving destructively to mask feelings about my stuff, then why can’t I, just as easily, make a decision not to behave destructively?

And just what does that decision look like? 

There is only one decision that trumps all the self-destructive ones.  One word answer:  God.  Let God fill the void.

Is it that simple, a mere invitation?  That is what I’m told by tons of men and women far wiser than I.

I think the invitation is a meditative practice, a quiet focusing on God as I breathe, letting Spirit fill me, expanding into that void so that there is no room for anything else.  In truth, nothing else is needed, contrary to the b.s. my ego feeds me.

Where am I now?  I’m in that murky area of wishing and wanting things to be different, struggling to think that I can’t–CAN’T–take any more stress in my life.  As always, trying to make things too hard.  That’s my history, afterall, anything worth having has to be gained through hard work, sweat and dogged determination.

Or does it?  How difficult can a decision be?  Especially if THE decision can be broken down into Mini-D’s (just couldn’t bring myself to write mini-bites).  Maybe the first Mini-D is done.  I can change the way I approach the consumption of food.

Second Mini-D:  I’ll ask for help.

Third Mini-D:  Breathe God in.  Nothing formal.  No big “ohm” moment.  Just relax and breathe God in.

Fourth Mini-D:  Try to keep my God awareness centered; each time I think about my breathing, I think of God.

Fifth Mini-D:  Imagine God smiling.  The omnipresent spirit knows I am worthy and good and it seems as if the me in this exercise has a glimmer of belief too.

What do you use to fill the void that we used to plug with alcohol and drugs?  Is it constructive or destructive?  If it’s the latter, how do you do things differently to get yourself to a better place?