Tuesday, September 01, 2009

restless. irritable. discontented.

It's the dreadful RID syndrome. I am afflicted. It's not an unusual state for late summer, but this year's version is especially severe.

The Doctor's Opinion, opening chapter in the AA Big Book, opines that alcoholics "are restless, irritable, and discontented until they can again experience the ease and comfort that comes at once by taking a few drinks, drinks which they see others taking with impunity." I'm paraphrasing, but that's a pretty close, if not perfect, recitation of a paragraph that was an epiphany for me once I got it.

But I got it almost 27 years ago and I quit drinking as a result. So what's wrong with me now? My friend Joe sends gentle reminders that it's a spiritual problem. My other friend Joe, committed atheist that he is, would scoff at that. But I'm leaning toward the first Joe's opinion: I am spiritually bereft.

When I was a child, my mother used to read a Kipling story to me about how the rhinoceros got its wrinkly skin. The rhino took off his skin one day to go for a swim. As he had previously done wrong in stealing from a man, as he was swimming, the wronged one sought revenge by filling the rhino's skin with cake crumbs. The rhino's efforts to alleviate the itch of the crumbs made his skin wrinkle and so it goes, this parable about karma and what happens if we do shitty things to others.

I'm not wrinkled, but I sure am itchy on the inside. It feels like my skin doesn't fit. I'm not comfortable living this way. It's a familiar feeling with echoes from long, long ago, but I don't have the tolerance I used to.

In direct contrast to the spiritual exhortation to be here now, to live in the moment, this instant of time, I am all over the place. I'm in Mexico. I'm on the coast of Baja snorkeling, in Chile hiking in the mountains, in Florida kayaking the rivers and swimming with the manatees. Do you see the theme? I want to be anywhere but where I am, and it's all magical, glorious, delicious. Where I am is work, effort, drudgery. That's a sure recipe for itchy skin and I can tell you that it a recipe that never fails.

Now the thing is to get out of it. How? How do you get out of your itchy places? Or maybe you don't have them and you can tell me about prevention? What I used to know, what I used to do, doesn't seem to work as easily anymore. Maybe it's just lack of practice.

I used to start out the morning sitting on the deck reading something that would help me get focused. I'd drink a cup of coffee, pet the cat, let little Boo cuddle on my lap for a while. The quiet and the peace seemed to last most of the day. I don't do that anymore.

I used to fall out of bed, onto my knees, to ask for help staying sober, and before bed, I'd say a thank you to the Spirit of the Universe that's brought me this far. Not anymore.

I used to talk about living a spiritual life all the time, with others who were also on a spiritual path. No more.

I used to try to live in the moment, to try to find something joyful in every day, and I sure as hell didn't live my life in the future. Today all I can think about is getting out of the life I have. I want away, to Mexico. Now.

This is how I picture it: I'll finally get rid of all of this stuff that plagues me, I'll close down my business, move to that little beach house, and then ~ then ~ I'll have time for spiritual practice. Then.

It's so ridiculous. It's really basic, AA 101. I have to accept that this is the way things are today and quit living in the future. There is joy to be had in this day, sitting at my desk in my warehouse in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I really want some of that. With my itchy skin, life is just a chore and too long. I want joy. (Now!)

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Blogger Unknown said...

I love you and good luck finding your joy. It is out there..you just have to turn over a few rocks occasionally.

It ain't easy, but no one ever said it was. ;)

September 01, 2009 2:00 PM  
Blogger LSL said...

I find SO MANY THINGS come down to Alanon 101 for me. It almost pisses me off - can't I invent new drama? There is truly nothing new under the sun. ODAT.

September 01, 2009 8:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So what would you recommend to someone in the same spot?
Go to a meeting? Talk to your sponsor? Help a newcomer?

September 01, 2009 10:05 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

Before, your little beach house was just a dream.....now it's a reality, and I see you just wanting to start being there and living that life......that's a definite itch! I get the AA/drinking itch possibility, but maybe it's just about needing to move on....and you don't have to go backwards to get there....JOY!!

September 01, 2009 10:55 PM  
Anonymous Sherry said...

"No matter where you go, there you are" It's not about where you go geograhically speaking it's about where your heads at ..

September 01, 2009 11:46 PM  
Blogger Spouse Walker said...

You are one of those people who write your solutions within your problem. And what kind of problems are these really? LUXURY problems... I am sure you've heard that term before. Sounds like you are in a funk. You know the rest. This, too, will pass. Oh Lynette, play your favorite tune on the stereo and dance dance dance it out girl.

September 05, 2009 10:24 PM  
Blogger Spouse Walker said...

And when you get to that beach again, run along the sandy shore screaming at the top of your lungs for me, would you please?

September 05, 2009 10:26 PM  
Anonymous houstondoctors said...

be patient, God bless you. Try to think postive because it will help us to keep our health.

September 07, 2009 11:04 AM  
Blogger Paul said...

Lynette, you can do this. You are doing this. And it is spiritual practice. It is just difficult to see right now because you want what lies ahead so badly.

There is joy all around you. Keep paying attention. You will see it once again.

And keep writing. You speak to and help so many of us.

September 07, 2009 11:30 AM  

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