A speaker at an AA meeting I recently attended used this expression: “it’s not the bears and the lions that will get you, it’s the ticks and the fleas.” I had never heard it before, and it really resonated with me.
At almost any point in time, if you ask me how I am doing, I will answer that I am doing fine, and I will mean it. Because I know that, on every level, my life is truly blessed, and unbelievably wonderful, by virtually anyone’s standards. And so, when I come across any of life’s trials and tribulations, I tend to think that I should be able to handle things on my own. In other words, what do I have to complain about?
I have come to learn that, in recovery, this mindset is the complete opposite of success. Because the pathway to relapse is paved with stuffed feelings and unspoken resentments, and it is vital to learn how to speak about what is on your mind. The consequences of failing to open up can be life or death. At the very least, the serenity and peace so often heard about in the rooms of AA will be elusive.
For me, articulating what is on my mind is not the problem, it is believing that what is on my mind is worthwhile. In other words, I need to overcome the feeling that I am wasting people’s time with my silly nonsense. Since I have joined the fellowship of AA, I now know I need to fight my instincts, and open up more about what is renting space in my head, so I can repel the ticks and the fleas.