- The Aztecs had a rite of human sacrifice wherein a priest would excise the heart of a female victim from her body with an obsidian dagger and offer that still beating heart to the Aztec deity. We should not be astonished at the miraculous conversion to Catholic Christianity of the indigenous persons of Mexico in a little over a decade after the Apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe. If some anticlerical secularists in our culture are to be believed, we should be resentful that the indigenous religion was abandoned. Those nostalgic for the old religion are obviously in no danger of having their own hearts ripped out.
- So we have another Thanksgiving and America has an opportunity to express gratitude. How can one even begin to express gratitude in our Culture of Entitlement? Gratitude makes us uncomfortable. We do not ever want to be uncomfortable!!!! Never. Ever.
- Are you grateful for the modicum of comfort you enjoy? Why be grateful for something you are entitled to? If we remember the Pilgrims and others who celebrated Thanksgiving nearly 400 years ago, we can always dredge up every wrong committed by European immigrants subsequently from 1620 who treated others shamefully and shabbily, wrongly. That will stifle, even smother, this humbling spirit of gratitude. My experience among my fellow recovering drug addicts and alcoholics in my circle of friends is that gratitude has to be instilled among us. We feel entitled to feel good. We drunks and druggies act on our sense of entitlement by using.
- The Culture of Entitlement and Resentment is fueled by the fires of Envy. One is entitled to a free college education, free healthcare, safe neighborhoods, clean air, clean water, and somebody else, not you, has to pay for it. Those who have more than you obviously stole it, in one way or another.
- If you don’t have all that you desire, the proper attitude is covetousness directed at those who have more, not gratitude for what you do have.
- It’s a prescription for discontent. So the logical break from a day of Thanksgiving is to rush out and jump back on the acquisition merry-go-round. That these are purchases intended as gifts is merely a different salve for our egos, proving to ourselves that not only are we savvy consumers, but think of others, almost as much as we think about ourselves, but not quite.
- Gratitude. Get some.
Today is my “other” birthday. On 9 July 1994, I had my last drink. So this day 23 years ago, I began the adventure that is sobriety.
This day is fairly new, it’s about 1:20 AM. Each year, brought something new: divorce, death of my mother, remarriage, becoming Catholic , death of my father, then my elder brother, my surgeries, my retirement, and now losing the weight I regained since I lost about 50 pounds in 2006. There were other milestones I passed.
I guess what I’m most grateful for is the compassion I’ve developed for other people. I’ve learned to put my opinions aside. Being a drunk means I am the scum of the Earth to some people. Recovery, to the cynics, is merely the time between drinks, and binges, and all out sustained drunkenness. I learned that I am NOT what other people think of me, good or ill. Neither are you.
As in “real” birthdays, there are parties and presents and attention. And I am still an Attention Whore of the first order. But life is good.
If you follow my blog, you might have learned a few things about me.
- I had a spinal fusion in November, 2015 that effectively ended my working career. The fusion was preceded by a rotator cuff repair in May, 2015.
- I am a practicing Roman Catholic, having converted in 2010 at age 59, from The Episcopal Church USA. “Practicing ” means I go to both Mass and Reconciliation (Confession) regularly, pray The Rosary, abstain from meat on Friday as a penance. Most importantly, I take Church teaching on love and compassion very seriously. My faith is like a “hard limit” with me. I realize a lot of you have had some truly crappy experiences with the Church. I understand. I’m sorry it was so bad for you. Part of converting meant I had to get two previous marriages that ended in divorce annulled under Canon (Church) Law. I totally get the annulment ordeal.
- I am a recovering alcoholic, 22 years sober, AA attending. Along with The Church, I use the 12 Steps of AA in ordering and directing my life . Patience and tolerance are among the gifts I take from them.
- Partly from AA, partly from family history, and partly from my own personal experiences around sex and gender identity, I am very accepting around LGBT issues. If you are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, that’s OK by me. To that end I am curious about your lives and how you view the world.
- On the lighter side, I like to cook. I also like to exercise, swimming and power walking mostly.
This takes us to the first topic in the title, Lurking. All you Butch Lesbians and Bisexuals out there should know I read your blogs. Occasionally I will “like” a post. I realize most Butches are OK with my reading. Some aren’t. To those who aren’t OK with people of my demographic reading your blogs, I’m sorry. But I’m not quitting, unless you bore me to death.
Topic #2. Substitutions. Since I like to cook and am in Recovery, I find substitutions for wine, beer and spirits in food challenging. Most times I simply not use a recipe with alcohol. I know how alcohol cooks off in a lot of cases. But the “esters”, those wonderful compounds that give different wines their unique and characteristic flavor, give me a headache. Any tips on substitutes for alcohol would be appreciated.
Topic #3 Sleep. Between not having a job and chronic, albeit moderate, pain. I don’t sleep well. Throw in the Cubs winning the Series, and my circadian rhythm has no rhythm. I’m like Ward Cleaver dancing.
That’s it. I’m done for now.
I remember the evening of 9 July 1994 quite vividly. It was hot, as it tends to be in Virginia in high summer. I had just finished mowing the lawn and was thirsty, hankering for a cold beer. In the fridge was a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon, just waiting for its top to be popped. I did not know it then, but that was the last drink I ever had. My long battle with alcohol ended with that can of PBR.
The next day, a Sunday, was a family visit day at Father Martin’s Ashley, where my then wife was in alcoholism rehabilitation herself. I remember she thanked me for the intervention that put her there. Our marriage, though, was over, as the next few months played out. Being a drinking buddy was not to be the basis of a lasting relationship.
My then-wife became the ex-wife. We communicated while our son was growing up. We both took an interest in his school activities, like F.I.R.S.T. Robotics. Then as that link was broken, we stopped communicating. On 3 November 2015, she died of lung cancer at age 66. (Yes, she was a smoker.) Had she not concealed her terminal illness from me, I guess her loss might have been easier. She didn’t. As my elder son said later, “There is no closure.” I can’t think of my drinking days and my early sobriety without thinking of her.
My sobriety continues through job losses, that divorce, my current lasting and loving marriage of fifteen years. I have lost family to death, including my parents and older brother. I became Catholic, with the attendant marriage annulments as part of that journey. Now retirement . My sobriety, like my life, has a new beginning with each new day. It is by no means all “puppies, rainbows, and balloons”, but it is a life worth living. I am truly grateful to be here.