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Life As We Know It AND God As We Understand Him/Her/It/Them/Us?

Life as we know it these days includes almost nothing that is not, in some way, related to the business of recovery from alcohol -- and make no mistake, it is a serious and enormously profitable business.  It is also, from everything we can discern, entirely a matter of "the only game in town."  Here in our fair city, which is not a tiny hamlet, there are numerous providers of alcohol treatment (both inpatient and outpatient), but each and all of them base their "treatment" programs on the ubiquitous 12-step, pseudo-religious model of Alcoholics Anonymous.  We all have misgivings about this particular mode of "recovery," but we so need the fact of recovery, that we are taking what we can get -- hoping it can work the magic it promises.

He is in treatment three days a week.  Additionally, He is required to attend a minimum of two AA meetings each week, and must have found an AA sponsor by the end of this first six weeks as a condition of being able to receive what is euphemistically called "continuing care."  T and I are attending required "family" sessions on Wednesday and Thursday evenings.  Nominally, these are supposed to help the two of us to recover from the effects of living with alcohol use.  The ongoing admonition is that we ought to be going to Al Anon meetings and getting our own sponsors and working the steps toward our own recoveries.

And here's the thing...  I am all tangled up in a wash of emotional reactions and feelings and intellectual arguments and moral outrage.  Try as I might, I cannot make any sense of it all.  It all rattles around in my brain, refusing to stay put, fall into some sort of orderly pattern, or rest quietly.  It makes my head hurt...

  • I know this whole AA thing is anachronistically handed down, almost entirely unchanged from what was envisioned by a couple of former alcoholics from Akron, Ohio in the early 1930's.
  • I believe that those men stumbled upon a formula that touched on elements that, together, can work to help pull an alcoholic out of the mental and physical quicksand that booze creates, and there is a part of me that doesn't care about the patently superstitious basis of the whole business.  At this point, I am more than happy to take what works.  I am.
  • But, the whole thing is so clumsily and unashamedly religious, in the worst possible,  mainline Christian and cliched "white-bearded God in the sky" way, that it makes me cringe every time I encounter it.  I cannot pretend to believe all that mumbo-jumbo.
  • And, all the AA'ers, when confronted about that, will insist to me that it is a program that is "not religious, but rather spiritual."  To which I want to respond -- "You are kidding, right?"  Because there is that whole business from the Big Book, and the 12-steps that exhort us to:   ...believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity... turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we
    understood Him ... Admit ... to God ... the exact nature of our wrongs ... have God remove all these defects of character ... asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
  • And, if you've never been to an AA meeting (or an Al Anon meeting) then you will perhaps be as surprised as I was to find that they all leap to their feet when the meeting ends, hold hands, and recite The Lord's Prayer.  Feels like church to this poor heathen.
  • It also feels dishonest.  I go to church.  Every week.  With my students as part of my employment.  I teach in a Catholic school, and attendance at mass is just part of the routine. It doesn't give me pause.  I don't have an issue with it.  It isn't consistent with my spiritual practice or beliefs, but I go and sing the hymns and say the prayers with my students.  I make choices about the level of my participation, but I do participate.  I don't buy into all of their beliefs, but I can be a guest in their worship services precisely because they do not dissemble about what they are about.  I know they'd try to convert me if they could -- and they know I know.   
  • And that isn't the end of it either.  There is no end to it.  This will become the way of life.  Always and forever.  AA and meetings and forever in "recovery --"  a lifetime of making amends and carrying "the message" to other poor suffering alcoholics.  
  • That makes me long for "the way life used to be;" for the us that was and is now forever lost.  
  • But I don't want that either.  The way life used to be was scary and unpredictable and just crazy.  Thre is no going back.  
  • I want Him to be well and strong and healthy and maybe someday happy again.  I do think this is the way for that to happen.  I hope.  
  • I want us to all be able to live our lives and enjoy and trust and love.  But now we are in the hands of the powers of the dominant culture who cannot comprehend our lives and who insist that we give lip service to their way of doing it...  to God as "we understand him." 
  • But my spirituality demands that I try to live in integrity.  How can I reconcile what I believe is the nature of the universe and my own understanding of the divine with this childlike, chauvinistic, Christian thing that we are now required to buy into? 

And round and round and round I go.  Making no sense -- even to myself.  So.  I go to the meetings.  Go to the therapy sessions.  Try to be polite.  Try to make some sense out of it all.



Sunday Update

We have been pretty busy in Clan-Land. This is the beginning of our 4th week of intensive rehab. All 3 of us have completed 3 weeks of classes and meetings. We are all tired. We are all frustrated with the continued emphasis of "God" in everything, no matter how often they add "as you understand Him". We were actually told, this past Thursday, that AA really IS a non-denominational group, but if we wanted to not say The Lord's Prayer at the end of each meeting, there was a meeting at a Jewish Synagogue that doesn't say it. NO SHIT! Sue and I talked about this on the way home, and decided it would be just "nice" if before breaking out into a huge circle of hand-holding people, there was a mention that if you wanted to join the circle you are welcome, and if you wished to leave, that is perfectly acceptable too. It would take a few seconds of time, and be much more considerate of the people who do not practice Christian religions.

Sue and I both have colds again. I am thinking it is stress and poor sleep causing us to become sicker this winter than usual. Tom is mostly doing well. He has some rough days, but wades through it as best he can with as much support as he can stand. I am working a minimum of 48 hours a week, as the senior insurance claim business has increased 35% this year. Yeah Boomers! Sue is doing teacher hours, which is mostly 6 days a week, minimum, and Tom is doing his work as required, doing alot of the household running, and assisting a friend in need.

One of the books that is strongly recommended to read is "The Language of Letting Go" by Melody Beattie. I have been slogging thru' at a snails-pace but this meditation struck a cord with me.

Today, I will be gentle with myself, understanding that sometimes to reach the middle ground of balance, I need to explore the peaks and valleys. Sometimes, the only way I can extricate myself from a valley is to jump high enough to land on a peak, and then slowly ease myself down.

Have a good week everyone. Be gentle with Yourselves.




That is the latest medical term we are learning about in our household. 

It is the diagnostic label for a syndrome that some people develop following Rouen Y gastric bypass surgery.  The pancreas goes into overdrive, releasing way more insulin than is required, and the person suffers from dizziness, lightheadedness, disorientation, irritability, loss of consciousness, nausea, and a whole raft of other unpleasant and dangerous symptoms. 

On the orders of His endocrinologist, we have purchased a supply of glucose tablets to have on hand at all times, and a glucogen injection kit in case He loses consciousness.  Today, He and T are at the local Children's hospital, having an extensive battery of tests run to determine whether this is, in fact the diagnosis... 

I am at school, trying to teach, trying to focus...  Just one more thing I guess.  Seems like too much, but then here we are, so I guess its not.



My "Condition" Defined

I learned to define my "condition" in rehab. today in a fashion I find both appropriate and helpful. You see it seems I have developed an allergic reaction to the consumption of alcohol. It works like this.

"I am allergic to alcohol. When I drink, I break out in handcuffs."

I am coming to occasionally "enjoy" having (or more appropriately accepting that I have) my new condition.

All the best,


Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you've imagined.


Alcoholism Recovery #1

We are at the end of the first week of intensive outpatient treatment for alcoholism, and when I say "we," that is a very intentional reflection of the most basic learning we've done this week:   
If someone in the family is affected by the use of alcohol, then the whole family will show signs of the disease.  So it is that, while He has been attending His required and prescribed series of classes and AA meetings, T and I have also spent time in both "class" and group therapy sessions.  Tonight, we will attend a nearby open meeting of AA -- as a family.  We've ordered a whole shelf full of reading materials, spent time doing online research about the various aspects of alcoholism recovery, and begun to shift our thinking and perceptions to move us, each and all, toward recovery together.  It is all so very new, that we are feeling like we've been dropped suddenly into the middle of some foreign land without a map, with no useful language skills, and with no idea at all which way to proceed. 

I've come to my computer probably a dozen times in the last few days, my head full of swirling thoughts and feelings -- and been completely unable to get words to line up reasonably here on the screen.  So many things that I could say, and then there seems nothing at all for me to say.  I cannot remember when I've ever had so much trouble dragging my thoughts out into some sort of acceptable prose.  In some very significant ways, life seems so completely different than it was that I've questioned the very foundation of our lives together.  I find myself wondering how it can be that who we are together this week remains at all consistent or congruent with what we have been for so many years, with the story we've told here for well over 9 years. This post then, is my attempt to travel back through the archives here to find words from myself to myself -- I really need some wisdom for these days, and I have sometimes thought that I knew what I was talking about when it comes to knowing about "us." 

We do not, as one commenter guessed, engage in SM play anymore.  It has been months.  If there are people who look in from the outside and wonder about the state of our power exchange, and clearly there are some, they are no different than we are -- questions of power and control linger in every minute of the day.  Having admitted to being "powerless over alcohol," He is (I think understandably) uncertain where His power lies, or even IF He retains the capacity to exert power in any context.  There are just so many more questions than answers at this early stage.  None of us know what to expect or where we might come to rest in time.  The admonition to take "one day at a time," seems simultaneously wise and frustrating.

I know that He is feeling lost.  It is almost akin to amnesia.  He will often say that He does not know who He is.  I have watched Him moving through the motions of His day, and sometimes He seems so vulnerable and new that it is as if He were an infant still in those early first days of life when a loud noise or a sudden movement elicits that characteristic newborn startle reflex.  Having traveled so far into the darkness of the disease, He frequently feels guilty, remorseful, and ashamed of all that transpired to bring us, finally, to this point.  I honestly think that He is engaged in an ongoing self-assessment that is somewhat comparable to the sort of thing that submissives sometimes get into asking, "what is it that makes a GOOD dominant."  I am imagining that He is running through some sort of list of character traits that "make or break" a dominant, and then coming up with His own score card. In December of 2009, I wrote a post that I called
About Dominants in which I borrowed a list of dominant traits from  Associated Content:
  • Honesty
  • Trustworthiness
  • Integrity
  • Self-Control
  • Sense of Humor (even at himself)
  • Capacity to Love, Be Loved and to Express that Love
  • Desire to Learn and Grow, both for himself and for his partner
  • Dependability
And then I added this bit --

The one thing that I'd add to that list is

The ability to believe in and rely on a dominant; the ability to be certain of his love; the comfort of knowing that He can laugh at Himself, and the silly things that happen in real life and real love, the knowledge that He can take the lead as partners grow and change -- all of those things are essential and foundational to making power exchange work. 

There isn't anyway that I'd pretend that He was possessed of self-control or self-awareness or honesty or trustworthiness when He was most seriously in the grip of His addiction.  A very large part of the situational dissolution of our power dynamic was due to the fact that He was no longer capable of exercising any sort of responsible or dependable dominance.  No more.  Admitting His addiction and moving to address that (even if that came as an outcome of terrible circumstances) has completely shifted things.  He is once again awake and aware and actively becoming the reliable, strong partner that I want, and that He wants to be.  Surely, I have seen the embodiment of that desire to learn and grow both for Himself and for T and I.  

Maybe my thinking about this reflects what I said about it a while back when I wrote a post called
Goodness.  There, I worked to contrast what we submissive types sometimes refer to as "good dominants" and "bad dominants."  Some of us want to assert for ourselves and for others that the ones that we allow to exert control over us are "... that "knight in shining armor" sort of strong protector ... a paragon with character traits like kindness and responsibility and honesty and gentleness and generosity ... he would never, ever do or say or ask for anything that might cause ... true discomfort -- emotionally, physically, or spiritually."

And conversely, the sexy, sort of scary, "bad dominant" who "must be a person of low character -- no ethics, no integrity, no human feeling, no heart, and no soul. ... in a relationship with one of these guys... a person is likely to end up abused, de-valued, broken, lost, ruined, and less than human."

What I said about that duality then is what I continue to believe today, maybe even more now -- "the vast majority of us live somewhere in the middle range -- burdened with flaws and graced with glorious gifts... human creatures..."

For good or bad, we live and love, and we grow in the doing of that living and loving.  He isn't perfect.  Neither am I.  Neither is T.  We all suffer from this FAMILY DISEASE, and we are all now working to live in recovery from that disease.  We've made mistakes, hurt one another and been downright arrogant and foolish in the event.  But not always.  There is good along with the bad.  Today we are more awake, more clear, more humble.  We are living with a cherished hope that there are better times ahead and that what we will learn in the coming days and months and years will enrich our family and allow us to share our gifts with others we may encounter.

There are moments, as we work our way along through all of this that I am reminded of the possibility that I outlined in a post that I called Ownership and Being Owned.  I was playing "devil's advocate," challenging the assertion of some that they were living in total power exchange relationships without any limits.  Instead of drawing up grisly hypotheticals of slaves dismembered and killed in the name of "no limits," I proposed a scenario that, in my mind, seemed almost worse than death:  What if any or each of us were to get this sort of direction from the One to whom we have pledged our obedience?

I've had a revelation.

I've been on the wrong path.

I understand that SM is "bad, sick, and abusive."

So, the first thing that you must do is pack up and discard all of the paddles, whips, clamps, clips, and other "toys."

Dismantle all of the restraints and bondage gear.

From now on, I want our relationship to contribute to the well-being of mankind and the earth, so each day your "tasks" will be as follows:

Monday -- volunteer at the homeless shelter
Tuesday -- voulnteer for a local agency for people with developmental disabilities
Wednesday -- volunteer for an agency that works for the environment
Thursday -- volunteer for the local Headstart
Friday -- volunteer for a local agency for the aging/elderly
I expect you to journal about each of your daily activities just as you have been doing.

Oh yes, I've also decided that as part of my ongoing spiritual quest, I am adopting the practice of celibacy, so please dispose of the bed and purchase two simple twin beds for the bedroom."

Now, the shifts in our lives have not gone to that extreme.  Not exactly.  On the other hand, what is happening for us is surely not particularly kinky or sexy.  We are immersed in the hardest, most desperately important work we've ever done.  There are times, especially late at night and very early in the morning when I lie in bed and stare at the toys hanging unused in the racks on the wall, and I think that they ought to be packed away.  When, I wonder, will that part of our lives ever come back?  Ever?  I get sad and sink down into hopelessness and despair.  I don't want what was -- it was too often scary and frustrating and just awful.  Things are better now that He is not drinking.  Things are much better now that we are recovering.  Things get better each day, and I am hopeful that we'll continue on that path.  But it is all different than what I expected so very many years ago.  If there was some implied limit regarding having life turn out differently than we expected, then we have blasted through it into some unfamiliar territory -- AND we are still here.  Together.  Working and growing and learning.  We still love.  We still laugh. We are still good.  

And so, just for today, that is the story about the path in this particular place.


The Book Scares Me

We are at the beginning of the journey into recovery from alcoholism.  Everywhere we look, we find the admonishment that this is a "family disease," and so we are preparing for the certainty that all of us must change in the process of all of us finding healing.  We are so recently come to all of this, that we have very little knowledge of what lies ahead -- of what it is that we ought to expect.  For Tom, the formal treatment program starts this week.   

At this point, though, what we've done, mostly, is read the AA Big Book.  It is an interesting experience.  Written in the 1930s, it remains through four revisions, very much as it was when it first appeared, and it really is full of anachronisms.  For all of that, there is much of value there -- a very great deal that we recognized from our experience and our lives.  For me, a lifelong spiritual backpacker, the unapologetic "god" language is startling and a bit disturbing, but I'm determined not to prejudge.

I am struggling, though, to quiet down the nagging little voice in my head that insists that the "god" of the Big Book would likely not approve of me:

Being convinced, … we decided to turn our will and our life over to God as we understood Him. … We had to have God's help. … We … said to our Maker: "God, I offer myself to Thee to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of life. May I do Thy will always!" …We trust infinite God rather than our finite selves. … We ask Him to remove our fear and direct our attention to what He would have us be. … we tried to shape a sane and sound ideal for our future sex life. … We asked God to mold our ideals and help us to live up to them. We remembered always that our sex powers were God-given

I know that He is working hard at accommodating that part of all of this; searching for some way to reconcile that "god" language with His own rational skepticism about His mainline protestant, Christian upbringing.  Suddenly, He's pulled out The Bible from its accustomed place on the bookshelf.  He hunted down the gold cross that belonged to His mother, cleaned it up, and is wearing that on a chain around His neck.  Then, He found another that He liked, made by Russell Simmons, the same jewelry designer that created the birthday bracelets that T and I were given, so that too, is adorning His chest.  It feels like a lot to me.  

Honestly, all this overtly Christian religiosity scares me.  I am finding myself transported back in time to my Catholic school childhood...  In those days, I was taught that simply being female made me "the near occasion of sin."  I wore sensible saddle oxfords or Hush Puppies because we all KNEW that patent leather shoes reflected up.  I learned to sit in class with a section of the local newspaper draped over my knees -- so I wouldn't lead some poor innocent boy into temptation...  One think I knew for sure by the time I was twelve or thirteen, the god of my childhood didn't like sex and he, for sure, didn't like girls.

I am very much afraid that it is the establishment of close ties with that same, unfriendly god that is a necessary first step in this recovery process.  Will it come to be the case that, in order for my Love to regain His health and sanity, I will need to give up my place in His life?  Is there any room in the world directed by this "higher power," this "god," for our kind of loving?  I don't find any direct proscription against what it is that we do, but I don't find any ringing endorsement either.  The Big Book scares me.



This comment just came through on the Celebrations post:

I wonder
if that is important, and
if he has spanked you lately, and
if I am childish for even asking. :)

There it is -- that knack that readers here seem to have of going right to the heart of the things that we DO NOT say, and forcing us to tell the truth.

Truth.  No.  He has not spanked me lately.  Really not since this all began.  There have been a couple of pretty sad tries.  Neither of us seem to be in the right space, although we sometimes dance around the topic with one another -- testing the waters maybe.

Is it important?  In the grand scheme of things, probably not.  We have a lot facing us just now.  On an emotional level, for the sake of our intimate lives together, it feels important to me.  Right now though, we are in a medical health crisis.  We didn't spank after my appendectomy.  We didn't spank after His knee replacement.  We didn't spank through the long weeks after His bariatric surgery, when He was hooked to the wound vacuumn, and just working to stay alive.  We've had periods of time when serious things forced us to put the spanking part of our lives on hiatus.  I need to believe that this is one of those times.  I need to believe that, as healing happens and wellness comes to be the norm, we'll find our way back to that part of our sexuality.

As for it being childish to ask, I don't know.  It is some significant part of what makes us "us."  I don't blame anyone for wondering if we really still are the people we claimed to be for so many years.  The problem is that I really don't know the answer to that question yet.



Slave? Power Exchange? What?

This comment, left on the Bricks post, needs some sort of response --

The question I have for you, and I also realize you may read this and delete this, is this:

BDSM exists on a delicate power structure. One person gives another person power over them. One person exerts power over another person. Tomato, tomato.

When the events of the fairly recent past transpired, you usurped his power. Clearly, you also demonstrated that if he goes to far over the line, you will do it again. For a relationship that exists on the perception that he has the power, how is it possible to repair that perception?

Please understand that I am not judging you. Him. T. You did what you felt was right for your safety and well-being at the time. I do not participate in the lifestyle nor polyamoury, but I think people are entitled to live however it makes them happy and as long as it is consensual.

And I will understand if you feel the need to delete this comment as I also feel you tend to romanticize your relationship, particularly since you share much of it here on the really, really big 'silver screen,' and may not want to deal with/believe in/agree with what I am suggesting.

However, you are too smart to not to have thought of this yourself...

Hmmmm....  It is a fair question.  I've spent time myself, trying to figure out what to say about the "state of our power exchange" in the aftermath of our recent upheavals.  I am not sure that I have a clear enough vision of all of the forces that acted on all of us to really explain this, but it won't hurt to start the discussion.  Perhaps, writing about it can help me gain some clarity in my own thinking.

I think the commenter puts forth an interesting set of propositions, however, I sense that the assumptions underlying this analysis of our dynamic are, at best, unsophisticated and naive (after all, our commenter makes it clear that he/she does "... not participate in the lifestyle nor polyamoury").  I'll deconstruct that thinking first, and then see if I can shed any light on the "what just happened here" feeling that I am experiencing (perhaps along with a few of our readers) at this point.

So -- to the fallacies and misconceptions:

1)  BDSM exists on a delicate power structure.  BDSM is, first of all, not a monolithic, one size fits all, thing.  The acronym points to a whole, wide range of behaviors and practices, and those who engage in the lifestyle tend to ascribe to some of those behaviors and practices, but rarely does anyone take part in everything that might be considered BDSM.  Too, the notion that a BDSM power exchange is, by definition,  "delicate," is just simply not factually true.  I've seen partners, playing together casually, on an occasional basis, negotiate very finely crafted agreements that define how, exactly, the power will flow between them -- but that is not what typically happens between long-term, life-partners like us.  Our power structure is not at all delicate.  It ebbs and flows with the day to day realities of our lives, and we have, on occasion, shifted the nominal control from Him to me when circumstances warranted it.  We live in the real world, after all -- not in the fantasy land of BDSM fiction.

2)  One person gives another person power over them. One person exerts power over another person.  Ummmm... maybe, but not necessarily.  I know I've talked about the nature of power-based relating in our lives before.  It is one of my recurring lectures in this space, so I apologize to those who've heard all of this before...  All relationships have a power dynamic.  We human animals jostle for power with one another in every single encounter.  I exert power in my classroom, choosing to share it in limited and controlled ways with my young charges -- to their benefit I hope.  Driving down the highway, commuting to work, I balance the power and energy flow with all those other drivers who share the road with me.  Standing in the checkout line at the grocery, I hold my space through a civilized, but very definite, insistence on my own power.  In relationships with other people, social, intimate, professional, political...there is ALWAYS a flow of power.  He and I deliberately and consciously choose to recognize our various power quotients, and we then work to balance that energy and resource between us in the service of our intimate connection.  I don't "give" Him my power.  He does not exert power over me.  We share the power in ways that we design and define.  We balance each other.  It isn't so much an exchange as it is a dynamic, living flow.

3)  When the events of the fairly recent past transpired, you usurped his power. "Usurped" is a strong word.  To usurp is to assume or seize and take control without authority and possibly with force.  To usurp is to take as one's right or possession.  To usurp is to seize power from another, usually by illegitimate means.  When "the events of the fairly recent past transpired," I did take control of the situation, and when it became clear that both T and I were at risk of imminent physical harm, I exerted physical force to ensure our safety.  I did not, however, seize control FROM Him, because, frankly, He was not in control in that moment.  The alcohol was in control.  The alcohol was calling the shots.  The alcohol was threatening our safety and our very lives.  I've no right to ever undermine His authority, and I did not take power from Him that night.  I worked to keep Him safe, to prevent Him from acting in ways that would forever destroy His capacity to take His rightful place inside our family.  And, yes, I would do it again if the need arose.  He knows it.  T knows it.  I know it. 

4)  For a relationship that exists on the perception that he has the power, how is it possible to repair that...  He exerts power within our relationship exactly as He chooses.  He is exactly who He is with me and with T.  Sometimes, He lays the power down; puts it aside while He works to tend to other things that press upon His energies.  That has been the case following major surgeries, during times of great stress and grieving, when life simply overwhelms Him.  The myth of the all powerful, never faltering, perfect Dominant is not one to which He or we subscribe.  I have picked up the reins of control before when He needed me to do that, and I may do so again.  When I do that, it is precisely because I am needed in that capacity.  It is a kind of service that is, in the longer view, an essential contribution to our lives together.

5)  You did what you felt was right for your safety and well-being at the time.  In the most simple terms this statement is true, but there is a deeper drive to this move toward personal safety.  I am His.  T is His.  I know that life is not always fun and games, and my role in His life is to serve Him to the best of my ability.  When the situation places His "property" at risk, then my clear duty and charge is to protect and preserve what belongs to Him.  So, yes, I acted to preserve my life, and to protect T and myself, and I likely would have done that even if there were no power dynamic between us -- but there is no conflict in my mind as I acted to protect His property when He was unable to do that Himself.

6)  I also feel you tend to romanticize your relationship.  I am sure that I DO tend to romanticize my life with Him.  I am human, after all.  I'm not the only one who, in corresponding with friends and far flung acquaintances, puts the best face on things.  I do that on a pretty regular basis.  Consider that writing a blog like this is a little like putting out a Christmas newsletter many times each week -- it is the Lake Wobegon effect:  all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average.  I doubt very much that there is anyone else, writing as I do, who could honestly plead "not guilty" to this kind of charge.

And so, I am left with my own sense of personal disorientation and disquiet in the wake of the events of these last weeks.  I do know that I forcefully, and determinedly charted a course for us all through the storm that engulfed our family.  I have struggled, in the aftermath with a sense of uneasiness about that reality.  I have wished (because EVERYONE knows that we who claim the title of slave really just want to abdicate any sort of adult responsibility), that something magical would happen and everything would revert to its former, familiar, and largely comfortable pattern.  Except that I don't.  Because I know that as familiar and comfortable as things were "back then," they were also seriously dysfunctional and broken.  I believe that we have to go forward, all of us, together to something healthier and better.  We will never again be what we were before.  We will find our way through this process, and in time, we will re-establish our lives on a firmer ground and a stronger foundation.  I know that He maintains the capacity to direct our lives, and I believe that He will do that again in time.  I look forward to the day when He takes me back in His arms, puts the collar back around my neck, and guides me forward into the life that He envisions for us together.  Until that day, I serve in the best way I know.  I am His -- always and all ways.



This is one of those "abstract," "academic," kinds of posts that I get a huge kick out of.  I understand that this sort of exercise just baffles some of my readers, so if you dislike these intellectual rambles of mine, feel free to wander off somewhere else.  My feelings won't be hurt.  Really.

As we have operated, in recent months, to stop the "attack mode" commenters from accessing our space here, they have mostly found other places to do their thing, and we very rarely see that sort of salvo.  Certainly, as we've come through this last few months, the vast preponderance of comments have been supportive, encouraging, hopeful, concerned, gentle, friendly -- all the things that we could have hoped for, and all the things we have needed to feel cared for within this circle.  Thank you, friends!  That is a great testament to who you all are -- especially for us.

In fact, all through these long, difficult weeks, there has been only one, very terse, nasty comment.  Essentially, that person chose to use some part of the time they've been given on this planet to declare (in the face of Tom's change of heart and mind) that the odds are "ten to one" that He'll drink to excess again.

I sent that little gem right off to the cosmic bit bucket, but I've wondered about it, mostly from a mathematical perspective.  I am caught on that "odds" thing.  When we talk about the odds of an event, we are in the realm of mathematical language that has to do with probability.  Intuitively, and often without much real awareness of the nuances, most of us use the language of mathematical probability in casual conversation about the likelihood that something will or will not happen. 

There are really two basic ways to look at odds, in the study of probabilities:  the relative likelihood that an event will happen, and the second, the relative likelihood it won't.  The overwhelming everyday use by most people is odds of the form 10 to 1, 10-1, 10:1, or 10/1 (all read as 'ten-to-one') where the first figure represents the number of ways of failing to achieve the outcome and the second figure is the number of ways of achieving a favorable outcome: thus these are "odds against".

So, in my head, I am in debate mode with that one commenter.  Once I get past the fact that someone is so consumed with venom and bile that they are willing to take up their precious time to smack someone else down, then I start to wonder what sort of data backs up that judgment.   It isn't easy to find good, reliable data on the subject of alcohol recovery and treatment success.  It seems that it is very difficult to see the problem clearly, to quantify the variables, to do the long-term follow up that would outline the factors that lead to success or to failure.  Much of the "wisdom" that exists regarding the disease of alcoholism, and the treatment of the disorder, is anecdotal in nature.  People tell stories (either their own or some other person's), and we then pass the story around until it develops mythical gravitas.  Most of us never stop to wonder how it is that we know what we think we know about this subject.  I did find one seemingly well-run study, done by the Center on Alcoholism, Substance Abuse, and Addictions (CASAA), at the University of New Mexico, on the success rates for alcohol treatment and recovery:

Findings indicated that: (1) total abstinence at 1-year was a significant predictor of 3-year abstinence, and that 3-year abstinence was a significant predictor of 10year abstinence.  Post hoc investigation showed that 55% of those clients abstinent at 1-year also reporting abstinence at 3-years. Only 19% of clients drinking in year 1 reported abstinence at the 3-year interview.  A similar pattern was found between 3 and 10-year interviews: 58% of the clients abstinent at 3-year also reported abstinence at 10-year follow-up while only 22% of drinking clients at 3-year follow-up reported abstinence at 10-years.  This study has the significant strength of a long-term follow-up,  with reliable measures and an excellent follow-up rate. Findings indicated that ability to achieve and sustain total abstinence during the first year after treatment was critical for 3-year abstinence and, in turn, that abstinence at 3-years was critical for predicting total abstinence at 10-years. Noteworthy, at best, only 1 in 5 clients drinking at an earlier follow-up achieved total abstinence in a later follow-up.  Findings also indicated that, 10-years after formal treatment, total abstainers also reported significantly higher rates of a perceived purpose in life and a higher quality of life, suggesting that drinkers were not achieving non-problematic use of alcohol. 

Now, I can find, in that excerpted bit of information, the clear outlines of the work that lies ahead.  I can find reasons to feel hopeful that, as we go through these beginning days, weeks, and months, we might go forward exactly as we are beginning.  I can also see the clear delineation of where at least some of the cliffs are.  There are surely edges that we will need to steer clear of on this journey.

But -- ten to one odds?  Really?  I don't see that data.  I don't find evidence to support that knee-jerk reaction.  It has been pretty easy for me to dismiss the mean and nasty anonymous commenters most of the time, but the academic in me feels better about being able to provide some sort of  "real" evidence in the counter-argument for this one -- so critical in our lives together.  There.  Quod erat demonstrandum, Q.E.D., Which was the thing to be demonstrated.

Having disposed of that business, at least in my mind (the joys of being the Blog owner), I can now turn and focus on ALL the rest of the amazing comments that have been lavished on us in these months.  It has been awesome to read, day after day, the flow of words gifted to us in our struggling.  Somehow, I have come to equate each positive, loving, caring, supportive, encouraging comment with

A brick is such a simple, elemental, uniquely human product.  Anthropologically, it is the brick that appears, almost universally in human society, whenever people move up from dwelling in caves and tents.  Wherever we are, whatever the environment provides, we find a way to mix up some sort of mud and straw and fashion the humble, functional, ubiquitous brick.  Truthfully, a single brick isn't all that remarkable.  It is the aggregate of many bricks that allows a human, with intent, and industry, and imagination, to build -- a home, a school, a monument, a bridge, an arch.    With that image in mind, here is my (and our) "pile of bricks" supplied by all of you, our blogging friends.  If we are to build something new and sturdy and beautiful for ourselves, then this is our store of material to use in that endeavor:

There will always be ups and downs.  But each good day is a reassurance  and a comfort.  Enjoy it!  I'm sure there will be more.  That’s nice to hear.   Nice to hear good news.  Thankful for the one good day. Small gifts...  One good day at a time!  So good to hear about good days. I'll pray you get them more and more frequently.  Hugs to all of you. Cling to the good days.  I wish many more days like this for you in the future.  soon - before you know it - there will be more good days than bad....  I'm so glad you all had a good day.  i hope there will be many more soon.  sending positive thoughts your way.  Glad to read of a good day a well, and wishing safe paths to all in your family.  May peace and happiness abound for you all. 
Good luck as you work things out from day to day.  My on-going support and encouragement, and COURAGE for all that you are dealing with.  I wish you and T, and Tom, the best.   Wishing for peace.  "this too shall pass."  Warm hugs and continued supportive thoughts.  hope your troubles pass soon, having someone to love is the hardest and easiest of things...sometimes both at the same time.  Stay together. Stay strong.  Wishing all three of you strength and love.  glad that you are having bright encouraging moments!!  Each moment of hope and light is something to hold onto, and to be treasured in the difficult times ahead.  Much continued support and positive thoughts.  I Hope each day has a new silver lining and that each of you is able to find a way back to a better place. Sometimes it comes breath by breath, moment by moment, because to think too far ahead too soon is just...well, too much. Please try not to overwhelm yourselves either as can so easily happen in traumatic times.  You can do it. All of you, all 3 of you.  Take things one day at a time, and if that is too much do one hour at a time.  And if one hour at a time is too much, survive minute by minute....  I hope you find the oars in that little boat of love and row yourselves to shore.  Sending you caring thoughts and a warm embrace.  Maybe its just enough to say that today, as you all are every day, you are in my thoughts and prayers.  I so hope for good things for all three of you. Best wishes.  it is joyful he'll be home soon.  Good to hear you are back together.  Manifest, Reinvent.  On-going support, encouragement, and courage for now, today, and all the todays still to come.  Going through more, though we would never choose it, often means we have become more.  "The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams." ~~- Eleanor Roosevelt~~  I will be one of many people here who will be standing by you.  The birds are singing in the South. I'll have them sing you a melody today.  HAPPY REBIRTH DAY!  Ask for what you need and tell us the best way to support you. We are here...pulling for you.  I can see there is a light at the end of the tunnel for you all, and that you see it as well.  It has been a difficult journey with a steep and rocky path. But if you all help each other over the rough parts, I am sure together you can climb to see the bright and clear horizon shining for all of you.  All the best to all three of you as you regain strength together and trust in each other.  the journey seems so much more hopeful and cheery now.  huzzah! and welcome to the other side of the worst of it. welcome to the beginning of the best, long walk you'll ever take. stay focused on your goals. hang on to the positive. choose joy every chance you get.  Bravo.




Tonight, quietly, with just ourselves, we celebrated.
T's birthday was on January 30.  Mine will be tomorrow.
And ... Valentine's Day is approaching.
In the midst of this season of wonders and baffling, almost breath-taking changes, He took Himself out shopping and bought pretties for us both -- gifts chosen by Himself just for us.  And lovely, sweet, sentimental, romantic cards to go along with the pretties...
It is a new and beautiful thing -- far, far different than the giving of gifts from one of us to the other one of us with a card chosen for Him to sign...
I keep looking at the beautiful bauble on my wrist, knowing that He saw it, liked it, and chose it for me and for T.  and I am simply thrilled and amazed.
For all my fears and all my worries as we begin to travel this new path, I am starting to believe that it will be of such simple joys and kindnesses that our new life together will be built.