About Me

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I have recovered from the disease of Alcoholism. I believe there is only one person really,.. everybody. And that peace of mind is everything. -So treat your neighbor as you would treat yourself, because your neighbor IS yourself. I think most of recovery is what I would call common sense, but that learning to be ordinary is a true gift very few people acquire. My ambition is to accept everything unflinchingly, with compassion, and therefore be intrinsically comfortable in my own skin, no matter what. I am comfortable being uncomfortable and am willing to go to any lengths to improve my life. I believe the Big Book was divinely inspired, and is extraordinarily powerful. Unfortunately AA's best kept secret a lot of the time. (In my opinion). I just try to do what works, no matter what it is.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Scary study pressure till March and thanks for all the encouragement :)

I am under a lot of pressure due to exams on 22nd 25th of Feb and 1st March and every act of kindness, however small, can move me to tears of gratitude and every carelessness or unkindness stemming from others unconsciousness can be a blow I feel absolutely. I am so grateful for all the kind things people have done for me or said to me in the past. It is at times like these when memories of all the nice things said and done are hugely significant. People wish me well, say encouraging things and genuinely try to be helpful, and that is the best thing in life I know. Kindness is a beautiful thing.
I have to exercise every day and eat really well to keep my emotions manageable when there is a seemingly impossible pile of work to do, because I am a lot more vulnerable and my emotions are much more readily available when the going gets tough, so to speak. I am much more affected by the actions of others when I am under pressure. I have to be strict to keep things from becoming overwhelming. The Taoist Arch comes in handy when it all seems a bit much. I have to be honest; I have to not eat sugar, bread, or pasta, (it makes me REALLY tired). I have to drink plenty of water. I have to try to be helpful when I get the chance. I have to restrain myself from saying irritable things if I am at the end of my tether. Or let someone know they have been cruel when they say something unkind to me. (It’s too emotionally draining to confront them about their ‘stuff’). I have to do things that stabilize my mood such as helping others in whatever limited way I can till things settle down. I have to maintain a good intention toward others, and try to use my life to be of service. I need to wear life like a loose garment, not take myself too seriously, and try to do the work ‘lightly’, as opposed to a heavy duty power drive, ? white knuckle act of will. I need to fit meetings in, but be disciplined to get straight back to work instead of chatting to everyone after the meeting. Not easy!

I am not afraid of drinking, but it is more an emotional ‘white water’ expedition lasting till March which I am required to manage. I have to do stuff every day to keep my balance and keep myself functioning well enough to get as much study as I can do each day till then. I cannot afford to get overwhelmed to exhausted to the extent that I am unable to study or take things in.
I think of all the other people that are going through the stress of these examinations, and I feel a sense of solidarity with them. I also think of the people who managed to do well, who found it difficult just like I do, but managed to figure it out and that helps.

Being a long time sober means although I feel the stress more readily, (I am not suppressing it or denying it) I am almost too good at being ‘comfortable’, and can end up not applying myself with the same urgency I used to when I was a drinker. I can be too ‘yeh whatever’ and not be galvanised. Exams on the other hand scare me to ! death so I find urgency then, (thank God) but urgency does not arise without a terrifying looming deadline. Another ‘disadvantage’ of being long time sober, is that nothing seems terribly obvious. I see exceptions everywhere, and that makes it hard (for me) to be simple and practical, and focus on a few relevant details. Perhaps I am making excuses here and am just not very good at this, but I am unable to tell objectively at this point.

I cannot really tell at this point whether I know enough to pass these or get a decent mark, but I do know that I am sure that the prospect of passing or getting a decent mark (never mind a distinction or whatever) seems hopeless EVERY year, so I hope that I am as wrong this year as I have been in previous years. But I am not kidding. This is not an easy year. Not for me anyway. Being submerged in a new and (relatively) much more competitive culture compared to last year has been difficult to study in. Some of the tutors seem downright fierce and dismissive. Survival of the fittest seems to be the attitude. And it is much more practical than the esoteric philosophical tangents I studied before. It does not help that I am nonconformist, and although cooperative, have no desire to tow the party line to score extra points, as this comes in very handy when you need feedback from the tutors. Basically I am useless at sucking up to tutors. Oh well. Perhaps I can apply these new approaches to the 2nd 6 months of the year. I hope so. I don’t want the 2nd set of exams to be as disturbing as these ones ☺
Basically it has been a very humbling six months. I have used private tutors in the past to help with exams, but I am not sure if that’s what I need this time. The hard thing this year is simply remembering the mass of data, and bringing the dry facts to life by imagining their significance in real life scenarios. Otherwise I can forget them very !!! quickly.

I also tend to study in too much detail and so waste time on details I will not need in the exam, because I cannot see the wood for the trees till AFTER I understand the thing. Others seem to be able to pick out the salient points from the mass of data more quickly, and think in much more practical terms.
It has been a very difficult 6 months in a lot of ways and there are another 6 months to go, so I hope this works out, as it is an expensive and necessary career step. But as this is only a stepping-stone, I do not mind that it is not to my liking as it does not dictate what I decide to do afterwards.
These academic challenges are strange rites of passage. They seem to push you beyond what you think your natural limits are, and from that point of view they are like going to ‘any lengths’, which I suppose can only be a good thing, even though it doesn’t !!!! feel like it at the time ☺

Well thanks for bothering to read that. I feel much better for writing it.
So anyway, I suppose what I am saying is thank you for all your kind words or thoughts of support, because I do appreciate them, and I think of the things people say and I feel a connection with those people in a way I cannot really explain. But for me these things are very meaningful, and for me kindness is the most valuable thing in life. So thank you, and I hope you are have a lovely weekend.


Syd said...

I remember my MS and Ph.D exams well. The candidacy exams were the worst. I don't know that I have that verve and drive now. It does seem that recovery has mellowed me a lot. I don't want to use the program to justify my shortcomings. Sometimes I may take the slogans too literally. Hang in there. Exam time will pass. Best to you on this day.

Garnet said...

I think your insights about recovery are profound. "Easy does it" is a risky philosophy for exams, if taken the wrong way. "One day at a time" might be better. A balanced amount of study, today and today and today. Works for me.

Best of luck with the studying and the exams themselves. ( I have a high school friend who corrected me every time I said that to her. "I don't need luck. I need "GOOD CLEAR THINKING".)


indistinct said...

Appreciative is a word I would use to describe my feelings around the comments you've left on my blog. Your insightfulness developed from your own experiences in recovery is helpful.

"Get out of your head and speak to the newcomers" is some of the simplest and best advice given. You've shown me that I cannot give myself completely to one task but need to have balance. As well, how it would serve well to have a thread of compassion woven throughout the fabric of being.

I have little experience in the world of exams. I did my first university level exam last December, was petrified that there would be six essay questions, requiring six to eight pages of hand written response. The prof did make it much easier by giving us a list of eight questions that might be on the exam. So I joined a study group and we worked out the key points to answer each question. I wrote them out at home, mind mapped them for fun, and worried lots. I struggle with remembering the names of people, people I have known for years. I struggle with remembering the names of equipment in the factory I work at for over 30 years. Simple facts sometimes elude me and I had no faith in my ability to remember the facts to answer the questions. I went to the exam afraid, hoping I would be able to pass.

I passed. I received an "A". It was all that worry that paid off. :)

I hope you do well, thank you for all of your support!

Mike L. said...

The last time I was in that academic environment, I was still drinking as much like a "non-alcoholic" as I possibly could! The stress was immense even though I'm quite good at academics and test taking.

As law school was coming to a close and my peers were focusing more and more on the bar exam, I became ever more sure that this was not something that I could do. Well, more accurately, I couldn't do this without "becoming" an alcoholic!

So I went home one night and told my wife that I'd decided against taking the bar exam. I'd realized that I didn't like law, didn't like anyone in law school and why then would I want to go through a grueling process for the next three months to prepare for an exam that would only give me a license to practice something with people I simply despised. She mentioned that I had built up quite a graduate school debt for us and where was I going to go to repay that. My response was that I would figure something out. But I couldn't do something that was going to make me unhappy. I didn't think I could survive that and I really didn't think the marriage would either.

I did find a way, but it really only all worked out because at some point the dreaded day came: I woke up one morning and realized that I couldn't stop drinking (certainly not the first of those mornings!) and that this inability to stop was alcoholism. A disease. That I simply had. Now I could do something about it. What my son (then 16 and five months clean and sober) had done, I could do.

I admire your dedication and commitment to this endeavor! And that you do it with all your priorities and commitments in place, front and center. Today.

Take care!

Mike L.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry to hear that you're feeling pressure because of your exams-- I'm right there with you (I have my first one on Thursday). But it sounds like you are cognizant of what you need to do to stay healthy and you're doing it! You should be proud of yourself. I certainly am.

Wishing you well,

johno said...

you know what to do... follow the process, head down, beware of being hijacked and keep on keeping on... day at a time.. til its done :) NOT LONG NOW

The Darkest hour is before the dawn.

You may be the (almost the) only one, with that chip of a book & spiritual toolkit going into that ego filled culture... sounds like they need you (the great you ;) ...

Ps did I write your post, was it about you or me? What i mean is, you sound very human & disciplined and exactly where you are supposed to be today y'awl fecker !! :)

lots a love

johno said...

Are you praying??

God is your director you are his agent, channel whatever...

Pray for the fear to be removed and for your attention to be directed to what He would have you be.

Read all of step 3 in the big book.

Thy will not mine be done.

I will pray for you x

Anonymous said...

Nice post and this enter helped me alot in my college assignement. Thanks you on your information.

johno said...

Thanks fot your comments, I hope u had a good study day :)

Anonymous said...

What a great resource!

Texaco said...

best wishes on your exams, friend.

johno said...

Praying for your next 24 hours, For your fears & difficulties be removed, For courage & faith in his will, his plan for you :) turn up, pray and then let him...

There's a 100,000 angels by your side.

Mary LA said...

Good luck -- let us know how it goes.