“We all make mistakes, have struggles, and even regret things in our past. But you are not your mistakes, you are not your struggles, and you are here NOW with the power to shape your day and your future.”
― Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free
We have all heard this line before… we are not our mistakes… but when you are new in recovery and struggling to reclaim your life before addiction, mistakes, if dwelled upon, can overshadow all of the advances that have been made. So, it is as important to learn how to effectively deal with the mistakes from the past as it is to learn to abstain from using any mind-altering substances. Because, if I continue to brood over all of my past failures, then I am on my way to relapse.
When I think about my personal past errors, I categorize them: there are mistakes that have consequences outside of the realm of family and friends, and these mistakes must be dealt with first. They are often the most frightening of the consequences, but usually the good news about these mistakes is that you have little choice but to deal with them. So, these are the easiest to square your shoulders, and prepare to simply get through them. The upside is that once you correct this category, it is done, and you can feel a great sense of accomplishment in having dealt with it.
The second, and in my opinion, more difficult category under “wreckage of the past” is the mistakes made with regard to family and friends. There are usually many examples of this kind of mistake, and range in severity from the damage done to your spouse and children, to the petty behavior displayed to more casual acquaintances. There are too many varieties to count in this category, and the length of time it can take to clear up these mistakes is indefinite.
The most important thing to remember, in the early stages of becoming sober, is that clearing up mistakes from the past takes time. It took time to make the mistakes, so it is only logical that it will take time to correct them. It is my experience that people are generally more tolerant, and have more patience for me than I have for myself, and their main objective is for me to be well, so they are more than happy to give me the time I need. And for the people who aren’t so patient and understanding… well, I will probably need a separate post to delve into that set of problems. In the meantime, dealing with mistakes requires the same mentality as dealing with recovery… one day at a time!
The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers. -Unknown
I had the opportunity, since yesterday, to turn around my thinking with respect to the current fear in my life, and I always feel accomplished when I can achieve these kinds of mental battles. In the past, I could not even recognize my negative thought patterns for what they were, and now, to not only do I recognize them, but I can rebut them and win the battle, which is a true gift.
So another way to look at fear, or any kind of hardship in your life, is to compare it against past, more difficult obstacles you have faced, and see how they compare. Or, to look at the world in general and see how your problems stack up against what the world at large is facing. You see, just as recently as a few months ago, I was facing problems I thought I could not overcome: I was losing my marriage, my home life, and, in a very real sense, my freedom. In 144 short days, I was able, through the miracle of a family babysitting offer, to have a wonderful date night with that same husband last night.
Five months ago, I truly did not believe I had the strength to overcome my personal demon, addiction. I truly did not believe I had the capacity to be honest with anyone, including myself… I wasn’t even sure I knew what honesty looked like. Today, I am genuinely proud, and even a little awestruck, of the things I have managed to accomplish in 144 days. And if I can do all of that, then really, what can’t I face? Certainly not the comparatively small issues that trouble me today. The kind of issues I face today are what are known as “champagne problems” in recovery… yes, they are irritating, and maybe worrisome, but they are nothing compared to problems facing someone in active addiction. And when they trouble me, because everyone in life has troubles of some kind, I have the added bonus of the toolkit I have gained in recovery… I know what I have to do to face any kind of hardship in life. So, while addiction has caused some of my problems, addiction has also given me the fantastic resources I now have to solve any problem in life.
And now, I can walk out of my house, face my fear, and know with certainty I am going to come out stronger on the other side… stay tuned!
When I first started writing this blog, I talked about the basic things I have to do every day to maintain my sobriety, namely:
2. Go to meetings
3. Talk with someone in recovery, and, most importantly,
4. Not to use any mind-altering substances.
I have written more than once that I feel like I should be doing more, yet I have been told time and again to simply take direction and “more will be revealed.” It made little sense to me, but I did as I was told, and now I have 115 days clean and sober, which in and of itself is miraculous.
But still, me being me, I often wonder, but what about the steps? And isn’t there something more I can be doing? And when I get those thoughts, I simply remind myself that what I am doing is working, and not to mess with success.
And now, I think I understand a little more about the expression “more will be revealed.” For the last week or so, I have been thinking that I should be sharing more at meetings. For the last few months, I have occasionally shared, but I mostly listened at meetings. I operated under the assumption that I have more to gain from hearing from another alcoholic that from them hearing from me. But still, the thought that I need to give back in the form of sharing my experience has not left, and each day, the voice gets a little louder. But still, I have resisted the thought, falling back into the safer path of just sitting and listening rather than opening up to the group.
So, today, for no apparent reason, I chose to read a passage from one of my meditation books. There was genuinely no real reason I did so, as I do not open this book on any kind of regular basis. And today’s passage was entirely about the value of sharing at meetings, why it is so important to open up about what is going on in your life, how it helps you, and, more importantly, how it can help someone who may be struggling.
Anyone that believes God does not speak to you on a daily basis is simply not listening closely enough!