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M(3), 1/23/2017: Two Sickies Don’t Make a Wellie

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It is still so strange to write 2017!  I wonder when I’ll get used to it?

Today we finished up the reading we started last week, which is a discussion of

Step 12:

Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

I like breaking up the step and discussing it this way.  Last week we talked about the spiritual awakening and carrying the message, this week we discussed practicing the principles in all our affairs.  Today’s topic is the one that has the most universal application, and it’s a reminder that I could benefit from reading daily.

What stood out for me in today’s reading was the reminder of the importance of staying in balance.  It is all too easy to get caught up in the business of life, and forget the basic but invaluable lessons learned in recovery.  I can be reminded of this lesson, and forget all about it again the span of a heartbeat.  As the chapter itself says,

“We found that freedom from fear was far more important than freedom from want.”  -Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, pg. 122

The next time I start to panic about the job search process, I hope I can remember that line!

In addition to the reminder for balance, I also heard the message of hope within the chapter.  One section reads:

“Service, gladly rendered, obligations squarely met, troubles well accepted or solved with God’s help, the knowledge that at home or in the world outside we are partners in a common effort, the well understood fact that in God’s sight all human beings are important, the proof that love freely given surely brings a full return, the certainty that we are no longer isolated and alone in self-constructed prisons, the surety that we need no longer be square pegs in round holes but can fit and belong in God’s scheme of things- these are the permanent and legitimate satisfactions of right living for which no amount of pomp and circumstance, no heap of material possessions, could possibly be substitutes. ”  -Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, pg. 124

Wow is that a run-on sentence!  Grammatical commentary aside, this statement is an important reminder of what we in recovery are working towards.

So I was reminded this morning to work towards balance in my life, and the benefits for doing so are too numerous to count.  Other great lessons learned today:

  • Remembering that “True ambition is the deep desire to live usefully and walk humbly under the grace of God” is the key to this step.
  • Fixing a marriage/relationship damaged by active addiction takes time; both patience and persistence are critical.
  • When it comes to repairing relationships, often the situation gets worse before it gets better.  It’s important to hear that so as not to throw in the towel too early!  Many of us experienced a long period of marital hardship in recovery.
  • Al-anon can be a useful tool for the family member of an alcoholic.  However, not everyone will agree with this notion, so the most we can do is throw out the suggestion.
  • Financial insecurity is another problem that can persist well into sobriety.  It is a process for sure, but the 12 steps teach us how to lose those fears no matter what our financial situation looks like.
  • Step 12, like every other step, is practiced one day at a time, sometimes one minute at a time!  We can feel very good about practicing step 12, then a minute later be thrown a curve ball that takes us completely off-balance.  The trick is to keep bringing ourselves back to center.

That’s it for today.  Enjoy the rest of your Monday!

Today’s Miracle:

The title of today’s post… someone said it today while speaking of relationships in recovery.  I had never heard it before, and was so delighted, I had to share!

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.

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