“I know when to go out
I know when to stay in
Get things done…”
For awhile now my recovery has been drawing on an account mostly built up during the first two years of my sobriety. I was in the comfy, cozy confines of a long-term residential men’s treatment facility – initially to get sober, then staying on as an employee. Working on my recovery wasn’t difficult there. It was a kind of recovery field test, and I could safely make mistakes, learn from them and make the necessary corrections. I had a routine of prayer and meditation and it worked very well for me, yet it has proved to be more theoretical than practical, and certainly not tempered with enough real-life experience. That’s because of a lack of transference. The skills I committed to developing there aren’t being pursued with near the same fervor as when I was desperate and hurting. Now, out here in the big, bad ‘ol real world I have more things clamoring for my time. I have a job with a mercurial schedule. I am working on building a relationship with my 20-year-old daughter who lives with me now. I’m trying to make meetings nearly every day, but it ends up being around 3-5 a week. There’s service work to be done. And I am still working on my online education. Guess what keeps getting crowded out? Prayer and meditation. And I’m convinced it’s at the root of much of what’s been churning up my soul for awhile now because it’s that exact same desperation and hurting that has been with me from the start of my sobriety; indeed, it is a hurting that has been with me far longer than I even realize.
But wait. There’s more.
I was talking with one of my oldest friends over dinner last week, and one of the things that we discussed was trying to figure out how to be okay with what we feel. I am decidedly not, often feeling guilty over not feeling the way I think I’m supposed to feel or in some cases not feeling how I’m told I should feel. My insides don’t always match what I think are the expected norms and so I resort to a kind of people-pleasing where I regard my own feelings as invalid because they don’t sync up with how I’m “supposed to feel”. And those feelings ignored are a rallying point for all this craziness. Ya feel me?
Yeah, it’s a mindfreak.
For awhile now I’ve been so far removed from those things that grounded my recovery, the vital spiritual principles of honesty, open-mindedness, willingness, tolerance, patience, compassion, and service to others. It’s turned me into something worse than a glass-half-empty guy. If I suspect it’s close to half-full I’ll pour the glass out just to make a point. That’s how twisted up my recovery has been. And it needs to change. If I continue to live my life like the feather in Forrest Gump – living any way the wind blows – my sobriety will wither away, just as my last marriage did.
The good news is, I’m rebuilding my support through going to extra meetings and through working with a sponsor. I’ve even chaired a meeting or two, something I haven’t done in a very long time. I know, it’s a novel thought, getting back to the basics. By the way, this is what makes writing about all of this an awkward thing. It’s easy to put it out there when you’re shouting gratitude from the rooftops like some kind of recovery guru, which I definitely am not. It’s much more difficult to confront the pain we go through, but we have to do that too. Pain is a tool of recovery, and it can either take us out or it can teach us to grow. I’m doing my level best to choose growth but it comes with a few caveats, one of which is owning up to the fact that I’ve been…what’s the phrase?…ah, yes…
…for a little while now. Some of it is the residual of the dry drunk insanity I wrote about in the previous post. Some is the too-familiar chaos of a broken marriage and the resulting separation and moving out. There is probably a dollop of depression in there too, plus my definitely undisciplined behavior to contend with as I try to learn how to live alone and hold myself accountable – and as I try to live by what I believe, not what I’m told I should believe. That takes courage and I definitely need to work on that.
But I’m learning. I know when to go out. I know when to stay in. Now it’s time to get things done.