I don't believe in coincidences; while I do believe in random events, illnesses, tragedies, I also believe that every good thing that happens in what "normal" people call a coincidence is really God, working things out behind the scenes and giving us an opportunity. We have the choice, free will and all of that, to either keep our mind open to the opportunities or not, but I do believe with my whole heart that every good thing that happens in my life is a direct result of God. Bad things happen, stressful events occur, and those thing don't come from God. Instead, they happen, and He gives us what we need to get through.
Several of those odd things have happened in the course of the week, and I am here at my desk on a Saturday morning feeling peace and serenity and, yes, joy. The first hurdle was getting over the initial confrontation with Eli, and I was given the balls to get through that in as dignified and loving a manner as I could have asked for-that itself is no small thing. But after I got finished with what I fondly call our "coming to Jesus meeting," I called Steve to let him know what had happened, and what I got was this: an offer to get hold of G., his stepdad (and the kids call him grandpa even though technically he is really only Owen's grandpa) if I would call Rob and the three of them could get together with Eli and basically both back up my decisions and to let Eli know that he has these three great people who care about him and want to help. It is not going to be a lecture, but instead a reminder to E. that he has a wealth of love and support behind him. You all get to hear my bitching about Steve a lot, but there are also very many really great things about Steve, and even despite my anger and hurt, I know that he is a basically kind and good person-and the same goes for G. and my friend Rob. During the course of the conversation, Steve also surprised me with the comment that he has never really gone out of his way to "bond" with Eli because he has been to busy being a selfish drunk. It isn't a surprise in the sense that I did not, in fact, KNOW this about him, but because this is the first time I have ever heard Steve really say anything along those lines; he has been in and out (mostly out) of AA for gosh, ten years at least, and in the last three has spent more time relapsed than in recovery; the fact that he had that moment of clarity AND that he could share it with me is a good step forward for him-what he chooses to do with it now is up to him, but it really is a true moment of accountability and humility for Steve. So I was given two huge blessings in one feel swoop-the offer of backup, and a small glimmer of hope that maybe Steve will eventually "get it."
Then last night was my AA meeting, and I SO did not want to go; we had the usual after-work rush to get dinner ready, chasing the neighbor kids off to their own homes so we could have dinner in peace, dealing with a very cranky Owen (just like an adult, by Friday, he has had a long week and he is basically just tired and done. Fridays are never great in that respect!), and I was tired. Kept looking for excuses and reasons to not go, but then Jacquie called and had a really rough evening and said, "I wasn't going to go to the meeting but now I am, can I come pick you up?" Well shit, there you go-not only did I KNOW I needed to be there (if I find myself finding reasons to skip, it means I really better get my ass in gear and just GO), but she obviously needed one as well and effectively swept away all of my bullshit excuses. So we went, and as is so often the case, I heard exactly what I needed to hear.
See, on Monday I have to meet my dad in Idaho Falls to be with him while he has a cancerous growth taken off of his nose. It is outpatient surgery but he will be put under, and he also has to stay there overnight-not at the hospital, obviously, but in town-as where he lives is too far away of something happens after the surgery. So blah blah, I am going to meet him there and then we will go have lunch and such, and I will check him into the hotel, etc... My sister called yesterday when I was home for lunch and was giving me a list of the restaurants dad likes to go to, and what he eats at each one-because my dad is 75 years old and does not like change. He also gets overwhelmed when being confronted with choices (hm, sounds familiar!), so at whichever restaurant he chooses, there is one particular thing that he always eats there, only he usually won't remember it from one trip to the next and has to ask K. "Now what is it that I eat here?" Anyway, she was telling me all of this and I was hit with the reality that my dad is elderly, and getting frail, and I am being placed in a position to parent him-which I should feel honored to do, but instead that selfish, petty little girls who is still angry with her dad has been saying, "You don't owe him a fucking thing. Why should you be taking care of him in ways he never could take care of you!" The little voice was really fucking with me, and then in the middle of the meeting one of my very dear friends began talking about her last two years with her mom (who just passed three weeks ago), and how she had a fragmented relationship with her at best, and how it was so, so hard for her to give her mom the things she had not been given...yeah. Talk about God just dropping in at the meeting, plopping down at the table and hiking his robes up so he could cross his legs, chin in hand thoughtfully. I just started crying and could not stop, and funny, Jacquie was sitting next to me sobbing, because she is at the point in her recovery where all of the family issues are starting to crop up and-well. Suffice it to say that I will be going to meet my dad on Monday with a whole new outlook, and I am going to be humbled and open to what God is trying to work out between us. If nothing else-NOTHING-my dad deserves my attention and caring simply because he helped give me life. Regardless of how shitty or absent a father he was or continues to be, he needs to be honored and respected simply because I am here, I am alive and well and happy.
Last, but certainly not least, we were outside smoking and drying our tears and I was able to talk to Rob (who loves Eli and the rest of our family so much that he said, "As soon as you need me, call and I will be there."), and my friend P. was there as well; she hasn't been at a meeting for awhile, as in I haven't seen her for a couple of months (she has 20 some years sober and goes to meeting everywhere). She was listening to Rob and I talk, and I mentioned that class, and she was like, "Oh, they don't offer that anymore; there is now an even better one called "Strengthening Families" that takes the best parts of The Parent Project and the best parts of this other program and there has been even more success." Yeah-she is a probation officer who just finished a 3 year stint at the men's prison in Boise and has now transferred down here to the Juvenile Probation Office. She also is proctoring this class that is now offered because she is going to be teaching it next spring. The class started last week and they still have openings; she gave me the numbers to call. The woman teaching the class now? A woman who taught a parenting class I had to take in order for the divorce to be final-a class I was pissed about having to take because I was not the one who fucked up, a class in which I learned SO much. If that stuff wasn't enough to shake me to my core, my friend Chuck had come up earlier and stuffed some money into my pocket (he knows our situation and will often just stop by randomly and have coffee and bring presents, or stuff the kids need for school or bring us sandwiches from Subway, or give me money), and when I got home I remembered it and you know what? After buying (thank you Jesus and YES that is a true prayer of gratitude) smokes for the weekend and two pots worth of coffee, I had $46.00 left. The workbook for the class? $45.
So yeah, I am feeling so great today. I am aware that the process is just really beginning, and it is going to be hard work; if we are able to get into the class, we are looking at in intensive, 14 week class that meets once a week for three hours. Hannah and Eli will have their own class while I am having mine, and at the end we all have a class together. There is homework. It requires a huge investment of time and energy; I know what. But it is crystal clear to me today that if I let Him, God is going to be there every step of the way-providing the people and money and the time and the persistence. I am so blessed; for being in a place lately where I was both humble and teachable, for having been sober some years so that I could be aware of how He was /is working things out, for so many things. What a beautiful day!