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Thursday, January 5, 2017

Balancing Survival and Serenity in Trying Political Times - How Are YOU Doing it?

What is the balance between awareness and resistance, which seem necessary for survival, and peace of mind, also necessary for survival? Any ideas? I'm open to comments!

In A.A. we often talk about accepting that you are powerless (over alcohol, over other people's actions, over the future), doing the footwork, and not projecting about future outcomes. So, do what you need to do next to achieve a goal, but don't worry about whether that goal will be achieved. 

Just as I have always had to be vigilant about my sobriety, however, I feel that I need to be vigilant about tyranny, like a President who believes he can violate the Constitution to suit his own financial gain and a Congress that appears to support that behavior, and political maneuvering to strip vulnerable Americans of basic protections, like freedom of speech, the right to dissent, and access to affordable healthcare.

Sobriety happens one day at a time. You cannot be sober on Saturday night if it's only Thursday morning; you can only be sober on Thursday morning. But you can plan to be somewhere Saturday night that doesn't put you at risk of drinking, and you can coordinate with someone who will respect your sobriety on Thursday morning to be there with you on Saturday night. Do the footwork with the intention of staying sober on Saturday night, but not project about how Saturday night will turn out.

That approach I understand, and after all these years it's like second nature. I don't drink, I don't plan to drink, but I do that one day of sobriety at a time.

All of the steps, principles, and suggestions of A.A. should be transferable to any life problem, concern, event, relationship, job, and usually they work for me no matter what the situation. My dissertation? Write it a day at a time, have a deadline for finishing a draft, don't think ahead to that deadline, just decide what you need to get done today to move in the direction of the goal.  When my Dad was on Hospice? Monitor the situation one day at a time, do or say whatever you need to today in order to be at peace with him and within yourself , and to make sure that he is getting good care, so that when the day comes you have minimal regrets. But know you cannot predict that day or really know what it will be like until it arrives. 

I'm not perfect at it, and some days it is harder than others, but most days I can "work my program" so that I am accepting life on life's terms, taking whatever actions I need to, and feeling generally calm and able to enjoy life.

So, then, I should be able to apply these principals to the transition from my favorite President of all time to someone who I believe is a liar, a con artist, and a threat to democracy and the civil rights of most Americans.  But so far, I haven't been able to do that. Every day, there is something more outrageous than the last, more appointees who would shred consumer protections and corporate regulations; blatant indicators that Presidential favors are for sale on an unprecedented level; attempts to undermine the Office of Congressional Ethics; proposed legislation to cut security for US embassies after years of being obsessed with Benghazi, when security had been underfunded by Congress but the outcomes were blamed on the State Department; reviving archaic rules from the 1800s that allow Congress to devalue Federal workers and agencies on a whim; or the Senate beginning the process to repeal the Affordable Care Act without a plan to replace it.

Every time I choose to pay attention, it takes only minutes for my head to start spinning with anger, apprehension, and anxiety. But when I choose to look away, it is with the knowledge that even more outrageous things ARE happening or COULD BE happening, and I dread being taken unawares. It's sort of like the last few years of my Mom's life, when I would take a break from paying attention to the daily details of her care, only to be called while away on vacation because she had a fall or an ER visit or some other crisis; so I never really stopped worrying about her even if I wasn't actively engaged. It feels like that, only on a much larger and more frightening scale.

So, I don't know how to make the move from this constant state of apprehension and anxiety to the one day at a time approach to surviving this new administration. But I'm working on it.

How are YOU managing it?