image credit … samuel hodge
“If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others. That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves. Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us — sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them.”
september 27 marks the 7 year anniversary of my sobriety date. I am preparing this as an article for a newsletter and it needs to be ready for print. the journey for me has been a true adventure into a world much like a grimm’s brothers’ fairytale. there have been snippets of wonder, intrigue, danger, heartbreak, all woven into a storylines which have meaning for my life in metaphors beyond just the day to day.
the ideas that i have encountered in my journey to live clean and sober have far surpassed anything i could have imagined. on the days when i am grounded, i know i feel healthier, happier, and more whole (very queer as i used to repeat an affirmation with those words). and on the days when i am not on my game, sometimes i feel as if i have been turned inside out, like a wayward sock at the bottom of the dryer. all my insides hanging out and picking up lint, the pattern and texture of my life visible for the world to see-(as if anyone is really looking at that stuff but me).
my world view has expanded as has my ability to hear others’ stories. and all of the torture that i have witnessed and trudged through may just be leading me to a safer and higher overlook. i had no idea that many of the things i have thought about myself were based on misperceptions and circumstances- and not truth. i had no idea that i was not to blame for others’ inappropriate behaviors. i had no idea that i had every right to be – just the way i am (i honestly had no clue about this- for the whole of my life before sobriety, i quietly believed that somehow i was tainted and wrong)
i didnt’ realize that a mental health issue was just like thin hair or brown eyes and could be managed and worked with- after a lifetime of thinking it called the shots. i have learned that not reacting is sometimes the best response to a situation. i am understanding that my impulses-although succinct and powerful- are not necessarily facing a good direction. and i have learned (albeit painful sometimes) that saying “no” to myself is sometimes the kindest thing i can do.
somehow, life has once again become an uncharted adventure for me. the unknowns have moved into my awareness more, but the fear of these aspects is diminishing. life has been full and savory. as i come up on an anniversary and reflect, i let go of more and more regret and find gratitude for the lessons that regret ushered in. i am even in the process of forgiving my betrayers. it’s so much saner than holding that jagged chard of glass called resentment (fear)
i always joke with my mother because she was in labor with me for almost 48 hours. it was 1958 and cesareans weren’t as commonplace as they are today. i tell her that even though i had agreed to come down to live this life, i was there in the womb, lodging myself in her birth canal, because i was having second thoughts. i had changed my mind (pentimento). i got stage fright and couldn’t go on. i knew how hard it was going to be and i didn’t think i could do it. and i have echoed those thoughts at several junctions along the way.
yet somehow, with the help of something outside myself, i have managed to thrive. this fact, indeed, is a miracle. i know i am blessed. and i know i’m not alone. here’s to a festive and fun-filled fall. i’m gonna enjoy my good mood while it’s in town. and if you can make it to AFR’s Rally for Recovery, please do!