M(3), 1/12/15: Letting Go of Old Ideas
Can you guess what kind of weather we are experiencing in my part of the world?
Today’s reading, selected as a nod to New Year’s resolutions, is entitled “Letting Go of Old Ideas.” For most of us choosing the journey of sobriety, putting down the drink or drug (or both) is really just the first step in the process of recovery. A monumentally arduous and often painful one, but a first step nonetheless. The truly meaningful work begins when we examine the lifelong thoughts and beliefs that led us to the bottle in the first place, and then decide, with the clarity only sobriety can bring, if these thoughts and beliefs are serving us well. If the answer is no, as it often will be, then we must figure out a way to release them.
Here are some bona fide ideas I held before I chose recovery. This list is completely, 100% true, and not exaggerated for effect:
- Alcohol is a requirement at a social event. If an event has no alcohol, I can assume the people making these choices are either restricted by something not of their own volition, or they are people with whom I do not want to relate.
- It is inconceivable that I will abstain from alcohol for the rest of my life.
- If I must abstain from alcohol for the rest of my life, I will eventually lose the companionship of everyone currently in my life.
- If I must abstain from alcohol for the rest of my life, I must not, under any circumstances, let this be known to anyone; keeping this secret is paramount to my happiness.
- A social life without alcohol will necessarily be less interesting and fun than a social life with alcohol.
I could go on and on, but I think you get the picture. Happily, through the process of testing the old ideas, discovering they no longer serve me, and discarding them, I find myself at peace in a way I did not believe possible.
Of course, I hold many more old ideas that need to be re-assessed as my journey continues. In times of distress, my instinct to project and interpret the emotions of others, and then believe these projections as if they were handed to me by God Himself, is an old belief that does me an incredible disservice. Fortunately, recovery is a journey rather than a destination, and I have a lifetime to figure things out.
Rather than go point by point over the various pieces of wisdom gleaned from today’s meeting, I want to share a miraculous story that happened this morning. I have had an issue with my daughter, one with which I’ve been dealing all weekend, and it’s affecting me enough that I felt like I needed to share about it at the meeting this morning (more to follow at some point). In so doing, I received some amazing support and wisdom, all of which I hold in my heart even as I type. But one fellow in particular stood out, he shared almost immediately after me; he related to what I was going through, and he shared some of the experiences he is having with his daughter.
Since this gentleman has been an attendee of my meeting for some time, I was well-acquainted with stories about his daughter, as he has shared his concerns about her for months now. He is currently in a place of relative peace with her, but re-telling the tales of some of his troubled times did remind me that I am not alone, and also that things could always be worse. Of course his daughter is 21 and had moved across the country for a time, my daughter is 14 and lives with me, so the situations are not identical by any means. On the other hand, the simple act of sharing our troubles with one another gives us both an opportunity to feel less isolated, and, as a result, feel better about our situations.
Possibly ten minutes after he shared he got up abruptly from his chair and left the meeting. He did not return for several minutes, and when he did he raised his hand to request a “double dip.” In other words, could he share again even though he had already shared once? And since of course the answer is always yes at my meeting, he let us know he left the meeting because he received an urgent text from his daughter that she needed to speak with him as soon as possible.
Turns out, she’s been thinking a lot about all the issues she’s been facing, and she’s been reading some of the literature her father has suggested, and she thinks it’s possible that she has a problem with alcohol. She would like him to take her to a 12-step meeting.
I’m not exaggerating when I say the entire room sat in silence for a full minute. I finally broke it by saying that I don’t know what to say. It’s one thing to feel a miracle taking place within yourself, it’s another to experience it with a room full of people!
And if, after all that gentleman has gone through with his daughter, this can be the end result, then surely my “privilege problems” with my daughter are going to work out just fine. At least, that’s the message I received!
I’m pretty sure I’m not getting a better miracle than the one I just described.
Posted on January 12, 2015, in Monday Meeting Miracles, Recovery and tagged 12 step program, 12 steps, Alcoholic Anonymous, Alcoholism, God, Higher Power, Meeting, Miracle, Monday, Parenting, Recovery, self-development, Sobriety, Substance Abuse, Twelve-Step Program. Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.