Once it became obvious the last relationship was over, and we were pretty much waiting for the paperwork, my sponsor said it would be the prime time to decide what I want in my next partner. I thought my sponsor was nuts, but after some explaining it did make sense. I could scope this out now while no one is on the horizon, so there’s no danger of making the criteria fit the candidate.

My sponsor encouraged me to spell out even the silly inducements, and to decide what kinds of obsessions in the other person I could handle. I was to think also about health and recovery. That led to some expository paragraphs in addition to the simple list.

I wrote these in my paper journal, in cursive, some time ago. But that’s not a handy location.
  • Respects me
  • Shares some of my interests
  • Respects and supports their family
  • Well employed
  • Can be silly, but not the default state
  • Can be very serious
  • Has goals and plans of their own
  • Expresses self in work or hobbies
  • At least as mature as I am
  • Dependable without being codependent
  • Caring without being a doormat
  • A good neighbor
  • A good friend
  • Accepting of me
  • Accepting of my sexuality
  • Accepting of my orientation
  • Non-controlling
  • Willing to dance, can enjoy it
  • Sexual compatibility
  • For whom sex is fun, pleasurable, feels good
  • Compatible sexual orientation
  • Has a dog!!!
  • Is happy
  • Not racist
  • Not politically extreme
  • Not prone to rage
I am still pondering on whether I could handle a relationship with a non-geek. I also have not decided if being a 12-stepper is requisite. Also pondering what kind of health issues I could handle.
Am not for compulsions in general, but could probably handle eating, fitness, or TV compulsions. Absolutely cannot handled criticism, drinking, drugs, gambling, or shopping compulsions.

So, after all this time I’m still having trouble not obsessing over an alcoholic. Maybe I shouldn’t read so much AA literature. It might be giving me the “if only”s. Well, I am acquiring the “if only”s via whatever source they come. I very much regret that my former life partner is still living in a seething ball of resentment and self-will, and that there is nothing at all I can do about it.

I tend to think, Oh if I send that book or this T-shirt or that medallion it would be the thing to prompt the other person into seriously working the steps, into genuinely becoming open minded. If I just say the right thing in an email or a greeting card, if I just nudge them just the right way …
That person has all the tools of the program they’ll ever need; if they don’t pick them up, that’s entirely between them and their HP. I know that. My brainmeats know that. More mysterious parts have yet to wake up to that.
I have a set of prayer beads I made myself that reflect my own spiritual and religious views. Most of my prayers are, “Thy will, not mine, be done,” and “God, grant me knowledge of Thy will for me and the power to carry that out.” Maybe for the time being I need a prayer to commend the person to their HP and move my focus back to me. Maybe I need also a prayer for freedom from obsession.
Think it’ll help?
By the way, I reached the end of Alcoholics Anonymous (The Big Book) tonight. Spoiler: they all lived happily ever after.

Last year, at Thanksgiving, I went to visit my family of origin, full of nerves and anxiety, not knowing what kind of a time I would find. It all wound up being fine, so this year I planned a longer break, a Christmas break, and am bringing my offspring along.

Because it went so well and I feel so good about it, I see the danger sign of complacency, which could set me up for an incident, such as happened when my children were born. The first time, I went to Lamaze classes, practiced all the time, and read up on everything I could. That birth went well. The second time, figuring I remembered all that stuff, I didn’t go to classes or practice or refresh my education. It was miserable! I just could not manage the pain at all, not even the pain of having the anesthetic administered.
Now I know that when I am going to do a stressful thing multiple times, I need to prepare each time, regardless how well or poorly the last time went. So, too, this time I must remember to
  • take along Al-Anon literature
  • take along some phone numbers
  • decide some good boundaries ahead of time
  1. get a glass of water if I feel criticized
  2. remove myself entirely if it seems prudent
  • take things one hour at a time if necessary
  • turn things over to my Higher Power, who is always with me
This time I have Al-Anon Phone Meetings as well. If I take the tools of the program with me and remember to use them, this can be a good time.

This morning I was re-making a custom set of prayer beads I had erred in constructing. I had intended each section to either have 4 sets of 3 beads or 3 sets of 4 beads, but in my distraction had set up 4 sets of 4 beads.

So I got out the needle and cord, a thicker cord than usual, and began stringing beads. At the first bead, there was some difficulty getting the bead over the eye of the needle and the doubled-up cord going through it. Grasping the needle was difficult, so I got a set of needle-nose pliers for that part.
Lesson one: Get a grip.
I put three tiny beads on the needle and got ready to draw them over and onto the cord. The first bead stuck fast, but it was hard for me to do much because the other two beads were on the needle. I had to take them off.
Lesson two: One bead at a time.
No matter what I tried, I could not get that bead to move over the eye and down the cord. The more I pulled, the more the teeth of the pliers dug into the needle, dimpling it, and the more strain occurred on the loop of cord through the eye, making me worry whether it would hold up.
Lesson three: I was trying to force a solution, and was becoming irritable, soon to be unreasonable.
I took the bead off the needle and tried another. It went just fine. I kept the things I’d learned so far at the top of my mind, and the set of beads came together smoothly. I tied my knot at the end and was satisfied.
Later, waiting for the bus, praying my beads, my prayers were suddenly thrown off. The wrong bead had occurred next. Looking at the beads, I saw that one section had two beads instead of three.
Lesson: I am human, and humans make mistakes.
I laughed out loud. Tomorrow I will make the beads again, but I will lay them all out at once to be sure I have them right.
Just for today, I will pray the beads I have and not let my perfectionism ruin the moment for me.

Just for today I will try to strengthen my mind. I will study. I will learn something useful. I will not be a mental loafer. I will read something that requires effort, thought and concentration. – Pamphlet M-10, Al-Anon Family Groups

My freshman year in college, I met an 80-year-old man doing scherenschnitte in the cafeteria. In those days, that small community college did not contain any significant number of what we now call returning students, or adult students, or non-traditional students, so he stuck out. I asked him why he was going to school. He replied that he wasn’t done learning yet. Big impression on me.

That same semester, placement testing landed me in college algebra, and I was flailing miserably. Questions were not permitted in class, nor outside it, I later discovered. I could not get help from the professor and did not know how to get help elsewhere. Lost from the first minute and never able to recover, I dropped the class in shame. Never had math defeated me before.

Years later, my younger cousins, who went to the same college, told me that this professor was notorious, and that savvy students avoided enrolling in any of his classes, even if it meant putting off those classes until transferring to university. Competition was fierce for seats in those courses taught by the other math professors.

I let this horrible experience scare me off math permanently. Permanently until now. I’ve recently checked out a book on basic algebra from the library, and am reviewing the topics I last felt comfortable with, getting back into practice, ramping up to climb that hill again. This time, I am older and wiser. This time, I know how to get help. This time, I know better than to think I am stupid or math-crippled or any other such thing. There is no reason to believe I am deficient in this area. I can but try it, and give it a true, honest try.

Just for today, I’m doing some algebra. I am not done learning yet.

Wow I haven’t posted in forever! So much has happened.

I now live in a completely different area, with different climate and culture and everything. I do not have a computer or Internet at home. Al-Anon meetings are very thin on the ground here, and I cannot reach them without a vehicle – they are located out of reach of the bus system. What a lot of new challenges!
I am so grateful for Al-Anon Phone Meetings. Thanks to a happy accident (HP?!?!), I bought a month’s worth Unlimited Nights and Weekends for my cell phone, so I am putting it to good use attending as many meetings as possible on Saturday and Sunday.
It does take a little patience. Meetings can be a little messy because of delay when unmuting and muting the phone. There are no facial cues for whose turn it is to speak, so we have to sort it out sometimes. But this is so good for my program! I am much more patient and understanding than I was the first time I attended a phone meeting, early this year.
What a blessing!