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Remembering the Past to Appreciate the Present

Be who you are and say what you feel,
because those who mind don’t matter,
and those who matter don’t mind. -Dr. Seuss

Like anything in life, sometimes recovery work sucks.  Going to a meeting every single day can feel like drudgery.  There are people who like to start their “shares” in the exact same way, and I tense up, because I’m already aggravated by the repetition (there is this one guy that says every single time he raises his hand, “I got sick and tire of being sick and tired.”  Insightful the first time you hear it.  Cute the 100th time.  Beyond aggravating the 1,000th time.).  And, no surprise here, my attitude going in has a lot to do with what I take out of each meeting.

And then there are those surprise a-ha moments…

Today my mindset was somewhere in the middle of “I can’t wait to see what I experience” and “Dear God let this go quickly.”  A woman was sharing about her feelings of isolation because no one in her “regular” life knows she is in recovery.  When I say no one, I mean no one… not even her husband.  He thinks she is at work when she is doing things for her recovery.  We had the opportunity to talk a bit, and I was able to share with her the benefits of just letting the cat out of the bag.  But that is not the point of this post.

The point is in that conversation, I was able to remember what it was like trying to be serious about a recovery program when few people in my life knew about it.  Keeping the two worlds…. recovery and regular life… separate was like a job.  Coming up with excuses for where I was going, remembering what to talk about and what not to talk about, keeping track of my stories… what an exhausting waste of time.

Today there is only a handful of people who do not know I am in recovery, and those people are mostly peripheral to my daily life anyway.  Obviously, the initial conversations (or, more accurately for me, the follow-up conversations because someone had beaten me to the punch) are painful on many levels.  But, my God, the rewards of simple honesty are so much greater, and so far-reaching, than those few uncomfortable moments of disclosure!  I am so grateful not to be where this woman is, or where I once was.

The Blessings of Recovery

St. Andrew Christmas Novena Prayer to Obtain Favors

Hail and blessed be the hour and moment in which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in piercing cold. In that hour, vouchsafe, O my God! to hear my prayer and grant my desires, through the merits of Our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of His Blessed Mother. Amen.

(It is piously believed that whoever recites the above prayer fifteen times a day from the feast of St. Andrew (30th November) until Christmas will obtain what is asked.)

The prayer listed above may be familiar to the Catholics reading this post, it is a Christmas tradition to try to remember saying it 15 times a day for 25 days!  I have been attempting this ritual for more years than I can count.  Two interesting things to note about this year’s novena.  First, my good friend and novena partner left me a voicemail on the 29th to remind me to start praying it the next day.  I listened to his voicemail, then walked over to the computer to google the prayer to make sure I remembered all the words.  In my inbox was a group email from a distant relative, and she wrote out the prayer.  Good stuff…

The next day I sat down to officially start the novena.  As I mentioned, I have been doing this for years, I’m trying to remember all of the different “favors” for which I have prayed, I’m sure sobriety and weight loss topped the list!  But in general I believe the idea is to pray for one particular favor.  This year, I was sincerely stumped… I really and truly don’t have a specific need.  The most I could come up with is “please let the miracle that is my life continue to be as blessed as it currently is.”  Great stuff…


The truth is, unless you let go, unless you forgive yourself, unless you forgive the situation, unless you realize that situation is over, you cannot move forward. -Steve Maraboli

I have spent a lot of time thinking about this topic as the subject of forgiveness… can I hope to be forgiven by family and friends, how do I approach them asking to be forgiven, how to show them that I am worthy of forgiveness.  In retrospect, the solution to all of that is easy… keep doing the next right thing, and, for the most part, people in your life will come around.

But what about when I need to forgive?  The first, most obvious choice is, after all I’ve done to everybody in my life, everyone just gets a free pass… if anyone has harmed me, I should just forgive them.  But, as we all know, life isn’t simple.  And what I cannot get past is this… do my grievous errors justify someone else’s?

A series of events occurred yesterday that led me to the conclusion that I need to be more proactive in dealing with hurt from the past.  Then, a few hours later, through a completely random series of clicks, an email from the past showed up on my computer reminding me why I am having such a hard time forgiving.  Since I believe (and have beaten into the ground) there are no coincidences. what am I to make of this?  Does my re-reading a painful email from months ago mean I am justified in holding on to my hurt?  Because that is exactly what I was feeling last night, and the subsequent nightmares I had reflected those feelings.

In the cold light of day, I know that God was not sending me a sign telling me to hold on to my hurt feelings like a security blanket.  So I knew I had to write about forgiveness, I just don’t have the answer yet to my particular problem.  At the very least, I have hope that because it is now in the forefront of my mind and heart, because I am writing about it, and because I am actively praying for it, the answer will soon come.

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