In my every-70-days series (a little humor, I meant to do this once a month, but somehow time has gotten away from me), I want to write about another friend instrumental in my recovery, whose name is Vickie.
Vickie, like Joe, has been a close friend for several decades (I just felt my hair graying as I typed that sentence). Like any long-term friendship, we have seen it all… weddings, births, graduations, holidays, vacations, milestone birthdays, the list goes on and on.
Among her many amazing qualities, Vickie’s power of observation is second to none. Consequently, as I sunk deeper into active addiction, I avoided her (and many other friends, frankly), as much as propriety would allow (and, let’s face it, I’m sure I crossed the propriety line on numerous occasions).
Because I saw her so infrequently during this time, it was very simple to omit telling her about all my latest problems with addiction. I was encouraged to out myself by friends “in the know,” but my thinking at the time was less is most definitely more in terms of support (because, after all, it’s one more person to whom I would be lying).
She actually had a sense of it, and asked me point-blank towards the later end of my 8 month “I’m in recovery but I’m really not” phase, if I had been to rehab. Deny, Deny, Deny, the first defense of any good addict, but I knew the end was near. I finally sat down with her and fessed up, completely unable to even look her in the eye. She was supportive, but cautious. I can say that now, with the perspective of sobriety, back then I was just so happy to be done with the conversation I never looked back. The caution, as she told me later, was because she had zero confidence that I was ready to surrender to my addiction. As usual, she was absolutely right, and another couple of weeks went by before I hit my bottom. During that conversation, she made one simple request: keep in touch. Don’t let so much time go by between phone calls, lunches, visits.
Within 2 weeks I was living at my Mom’s, and trying to figure out what the hell to do with the mess that was my life. Vickie called, asking how it was going. I did not hesitate for half a second this time, and replied, “Let’s meet.” As luck would have it, she works near to where my Mom lives; I think I met her that day.
Out came the entire story, lock stock and barrel. At this point, I genuinely had nothing to lose. Vickie’s first response? She could instantly see the difference in me, by eye contact alone. As always, there was no judgment, only love, but that is not to say she went easy on me. She read me the riot act for deceiving her at the previous lunch, for failing to disclose information in the months prior, and for generally making the mess I’ve made. Vickie pulls absolutely no punches, but the flip side to that is the firm knowledge of knowing exactly where you stand with her. And, believe me, I needed the riot act read to me!
From that point on Vickie made time for me on a weekly basis. We usually met on a Friday after my AA meeting at a Starbucks near her work (and my home at the time). No matter what was going on in her life, she made sure to keep that appointment. On a side note, Starbucks was about as feasible to my budget at the time as travelling to the moon would be now, and I really struggled with the idea of her paying for the coffee every week, but there was no question, and no arguing… She’s paying; let’s move on to more important subjects.
And move on we did. When I think about those coffee dates, I’m not sure I would have survived early sobriety without them. She was as much a part of my recovery as my sponsor was… I ran absolutely everything by her before I did it. In some ways, her opinion meant more to me, because she knew the characters involved. When a very traumatic interpersonal incident occurred with a family member, I would do nothing until I ran it by Vickie. When I was 150% sure I was on my way to divorce court, Vickie talked me off the ledge every time.
And today? Every piece of advice given to me by Vickie has paid off. Every prediction made by Vickie has come true (reunion with my husband, mended relations with family and friends, miraculous life being fulfilled, day by day).
I had been encouraged by a few family members to keep a journal chronicling my process through early recovery. It was Vickie who taught me about this interesting new social media, called blogging (no, I am not kidding, I had heard of blogging, but had zero personal experience with it). I’ve mentioned this before, but my initial response, when she explained it to me, was, “Won’t that seem like self-indulgent nonsense?” To this Vickie replied with her characteristic bluntness, “You need to get with the times.”
As usual, Vickie was right. I proceeded to Google the words “word” and “press,” and the rest is history. Without Vickie, there would be no “miracle around the corner!”
Holding resentment is like eating poison and waiting for the other person to keel over. -Unknown
The subtitle of this post is “Be Careful What You Wish For.” Yesterday I wrote that I fail to see I have many resentments in my life, and I probably encountered about a dozen of them yesterday, some large, some small, but all striving to ruin my day.
So today I am going to write on the topic of ridding yourself of resentments, and this, more than any post I have written so far, is entirely, in the moment, self-serving… a visual reminder of what I need to do, right now, in my life.
The first thing I have learned when you are in the moment of a resentment is to practice restraint. For me, this usually means removing myself from the resentful situation, as tactfully and gracefully as I possibly can. Because when I am angry or frustrated, my first reaction is NEVER my best one, so I need time and space to allow perspective.
Next, I need to turn it over to God. Some people might call this step listening to their conscience, but for me my conscience is God, and in the end it is semantics, for the action steps are the same. Quiet your mind. Really… that’s it. Once I quiet that self-righteous, loud voice in my head telling me that I have been wronged, the peace comes almost instantaneously, as does direction on the next right thing to do. The trick is two-fold: learning to talk back to that loud persistent voice, and to do it in an expedient fashion. Because the more wronged I feel, the longer it takes me to quiet the voice, which only creates a lack of peace in my life for that much longer.
Finally, once I have quieted the voice, and the path becomes clear, I need to actually follow the path. Whether it is apologizing for my part in the incident, forgiving the person or situation I feel has wronged me, or just simply moving on with life, there is no time like the present… I must, as Nike says, just do it.
And then the peace will come, and sanity will be restored.