Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A loose garment

After a long, very long in fact, day with 150 eighth graders yesterday, I knew that I needed a meeting last night.  My patience had worn thin, my "don't give a shit" attitude was in full force, and my near disgust with the human species was obvious.  Yes, that is exactly when I need to be in an Al-Anon meeting. 

A recap of my day would go something like this:
  • a change of plans at 10:30 to take the entire group of 150 to a nearby Fort instead of to the island via boat.  The wind was blowing too hard for a boat trip across the harbor. 
  • Take three groups of 50 eighth graders through the fort, the museum and to the nearby beach where most of the time they are running wild. 
  • Have to call down a couple of boys for trying to smash a living crab against a rock.  Kid says, "But I just want to kill it." Yes, and I am starting to have a similar feeling about the kid. 
  • Another kid tells me that he just wants to kill something.  So I tell him to run out in the street in front of a truck and he will get his wish.  Definitely, not one of my better moments. 
  • Girls are drawing hearts in the sand.  Boys are drawing huge penises and testicles in the sand with some shells spewing out the top.  I am not a psychiatrist but wonder if this is wishful thinking on both parts. 
  • A highlight is that the dolphins decided to put on a show which captivated about 30 of the kids. Some were also interested in hermit crabs and a few other critters that we talked about in the tide pool. I start to feel a bit better. 
  • I am thankful to see all the buses leaving and cheerily wave them on their way, thinking how glad I am to see them go.  And hoping that I won't see them again.  
  • Wondering what I am doing with this job and how ill suited I am to deal with these alien creatures.  I used to be one, but that is but a faint memory to me now. 
So then I head to a meeting after an hour break for a sandwich.  The meeting is packed to capacity.  And the topic is Let Go and Let God.  There are no coincidences.  I needed to be here.  As always happens,  I feel a sense of peace descend on me as I listen to the welcome, preface, and steps being read.  All the stuff from the day starts to lift from me.  It is true that the feeling is like shedding a heavy coat, only to have a loose garment underneath.

There were quite a few tears shed last night.  Some people were struggling with loved ones who were deep in their disease.  There was talk of how imperfect our ability to let go really is.  But that it is indeed necessary if we are to feel any freedom in our own lives from alcoholism.  I have been where they are--feeling helpless, lost, and not seeing how there will be any good outcome.  And yet, I knew that I needed to come back, just as they are doing.  And in my coming back, I began to feel better.  That's the beauty of this program. 

A few people shared about their deep faith and how that has sustained them in turning things over to the God of their understanding.  I had none when I came in.  I felt that the only Higher Power was me.  And I was doing a really poor job of it.  I know that letting go is difficult.  But I gradually began to loosen my grip on others.  And in doing so,  I began to trust that they could find their own way without my directing them. 

When I left that meeting, regardless of whether I heard solutions or just problems of life with alcoholism,  I felt better.  I was tired but felt at peace.  Wearing life like a loose garment is something that this program gives me.  And that's why I keep coming back.



  1. I guess my meeting is climbing astraddle of my Harley and feeling the wind. The same feeling of peace as I watch pavement pass endlessly and the peacefulness of solitude. My only focus is on the passing scenery and the the feel of the machine between my legs.

    We all need the rejuvenation of an activity that allows the escape into ourself.

  2. Oh, Syd, poor you.

    This. . . .
    Another kid tells me that he just wants to kill something. So I tell him to run out in the street in front of a truck and he will get his wish. Definitely, not one of my better moments.
    . . . . is totally understandable.

    I have little hope for the generation coming up right now--sex, sex, and violence (to quote Marilyn Manson, who ought to know) is all that seems to hold their interest for long.

    You give me hope though. I just want you to know that.



  3. Twas so reassuring to see and read that your original decision - in Step 3 - was to move ahead and return to what you so painstakingly sought and discovered in this wonderful program!

    On the critical and perhaps a bit negativeside, I cannot imagine you to ever be any modicum of the dysfunction you described
    in the paragraph,
    'Wondering what I am doing here...' Maybe a bit independent or a bit defiant, but 'mean???'- - - Never!

    Glad you survived the modern children of today!

    Much love and hugs,
    Anonymous #1

  4. And breathe. I'm glad you made it through the day. I'm glad you made it to a meeting. And breathe again. This is one thing I've learned through yoga. Namaste.

  5. I echo exactly what Ms. Bastard-Beloved said. She got it right. And maybe, just maybe, this is not the job for you. You'll figure that out.

  6. It seems every generation looks at the next and shakes their heads. It is amazing the human race has survived.

  7. Thanks for your share today.
    It's nice your stretch your world.
    Letting go is what I like to practice today and trust HP has a plan for me.

  8. Thank you for sharing this. I was feeling that same "I don't give a shit" right now, and I couldn't get to a meeting at this exact moment... but I had my computer to search for some words of support. I felt better after reading about your experience. Reminder that I'm not walking this rough road alone!

  9. ugh dude 150 kids! this was not fun day at all...glad you had that meeting to revive you a bit...i did get a chuckle out of your not so fine moment as i have wanted to say similar...

  10. that was hilarious!

    weirdly enough this book is incredibly !!! life affirming because it is all about how the military have to go to massive lengths to sidestep the natural peace loving tendencies of humans :) you would love this guy called Paul Chappell because he talks about 'waging peace' (he mentions this book in his talks) hes very inspiring. Lots of youtube vids of some of his talks. restores your faith in humanity :) which can only be a god thing after dealing with those kids.. :)

  11. I sympathize with you. I was a preschool teacher in my younger years, but the parents were worse than the children. I loved the analogy of the "loose garment". I need to be reminded of that. For years I either clenched my jaw or my fists, very rarely did I have a sense of peace until I discovered how really little control I have except over some choices like what to eat, or wear, but the rest lies within the design of my higher power. I finished reading Eat, Pray, Love last November. I loved the book! When you are on the journey to self discovery, it's awesome to find something you can relate too. I'm in the process of reading "Committed" by Liz Gilbert and I really like her style of writing. It also doesn't matter how much time you spend with eighth graders, they are from a different planet.....

  12. 150 8th graders! Oh my! And I'm tired after an hour with 20 Alateens! You have my respect! I laughed out loud at your descriptions of the kids. The program truly is full of miracles, is it not? So glad I stopped by today. Thank you.

  13. did make me laugh. Your description about sums them up. Loving the unlovely....I think about that a lot in my life with pre-teens/teens and addicts.

  14. Sometimes I think that teachers and others who deal with 6th thru 9th graders are saints - or crazy. Such tough years for them.

    Don't you just love the loose garment feeling? It's lightening up emotionally, mentally and even physically.

  15. YEA to the girls drawing heart!
    8th grade boys are just primal nerve endings.

  16. "I just want to kill something"?????

    What in hells name are we creating here?

  17. It would be so discouraging to be around young people today so I choose not to do it. Yes, there are some young people who see the wonder in life and are participating in life and contributing already with integrity and common sense. My own grandkids are living in la la land. Scary what the adults of the future are wasting time on right now.

  18. What a crazy day! That killing the crabs thing is really upsetting to me. I'm not sure what it is about eighth graders - I wonder if it's a hormonal thing. I always thought if I had the opportunity to live my life over again, I wouldn't do it because I'd have to be in eighth grade again. I always thought if I had to teach, it would be elementary school or high school or college, because I could never teach eighth graders. When my son was in 6th grade, he was in a school play, and the eighth graders were teasing him like crazy. His teacher was trying to explain to him that was eighth grade behavior. When my son was in eighth grade, he was having behavior problems. His principal told me, that's eighth grade behavior - most kids grow out of that by the time they reach high school. Still, someone has to teach them. It may not be me or you. I hope some people out there are equipped to teach them. And not all eighth graders go around killing animals. That's something I didn't do, except when my dad forced me to go fishing. But I was constantly obnoxious and sarcastic and ignored any rule that interfered with my all-important social life. Maybe there is someone out there who can convince kids that there are better ways to get out their anger, or obtain self esteem or whatever it is they're trying to accomplish. I guess Alateen helps with that. Maybe in some cases it requires special talent or special training. Sorry you had such a difficult crazy day! Glad the meeting helped!

  19. A kid having a desire to "just kill something" is disturbing.

    Glad to see that you survived the whole ordeal. That's a hard age to handle. There's no amount of money in the world that would entice me to teach 8th grade.

  20. Ugh, ugh, ugh. I know how you felt. Schoolchildren go out in groups to stone owls nesting in trees because owls are 'unlucky'. The parents think nothing is wrong with this.


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