Yesterday I did not blog. The small critical voice inside me nagged at me all day. You’re doing it again, L, starting something with the torque of a turbo-diesel only to sputter out halfway through the second lap. I’ve been known to start projects, many projects, only to leave them unfinished, half-way there.
My first clear memory of doing this was when I was about 8 years old and I sent away for this greeting card kit to raise money. The gist was that you buy the kit, sell the boxes of greeting cards, and donate the profit to a cause. I started off with a bang but despised the selling part. Those greeting cards remained in my closet for months, unopened and unsold, a sad reminder of my lack of persistence. My parents gave me a lot of grief. “You always start things and never finish them”. This planted the seeds of self-criticism and doubt. Would I ever be able to finish a project?
I went on to start many “unfinished” projects in my life. It’s really kind of funny when I think of it now. I would chalk it up to ADHD or a myriad of other maladies. The point is that I’ve reached that stage of really not caring. I’m accepting myself. So what if I start and stop things? And who is to say if I skip writing in a blog one day that I’m failing? It’s absurd to beat myself up for these things anymore.
When I look at my sobriety and recovery I see a sustained effort. I have almost 8 years of recovery. My anniversary is coming up next month, unsurprisingly I’ve been reflective. Anniversaries always bring up a lot of introspection. Where am I on my recovery journey? How have I changed since I first came in?
I was able to see how I had matured during my home group meeting last night. A person very new in the program brought up the topic of boundaries. She has a friend who slipped early on and keeps calling her while drunk. She realizes this is not good for her sobriety but struggles with worries about alienating the person. What’s her role in this situation? Should she try to help or stay away from the situation because it threatens her sobriety? Intuitively, she knew the right thing to do and was able to set the boundary.
The chairperson framed the topic around the 12th step. 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. As the discussion went around the room, I realized how far I had come in my recovery. Over time, I learned what is right for me and developed the ability to take of myself without putting my perceptions of the others needs first. By integrating this shift, I am able to help others, not by forcing a change in them but by modeling sober behavior, living the principles of the program. I know I can’t get someone else sober, hell, I didn’t get myself sober. It happened through the power of the group, G.O.D. (group of drunks), and faith in something bigger than myself. In doing this I changed my concept of a Higher Power from the external Cop in the Sky to an understanding of the connectedness of all things. We’re all in this together.
I also see myself moving away from the constraints of conformity. I’ve listened for years to people saying that you have to get down on your knees to truly connect with your Higher Power. This is their vehicle to humility. I never felt like I was doing it the right way. I’m reminded of my childhood church days, standing up, sitting down, kneeling on the bench and up and down again. How exhausting! Now I realize that I don’t need to conform to another person’s method of prayer. I can pray sitting on my bed, driving in my car, walking in the forest. It works for me.
My journey of recovery continues to shift, sometimes I slide back into being ego-driven, self-centered. Sobriety is a process, it really is a circle game. The duck, duck-goose game of self-discovery. Luckily, I’ve been able to develop faith and humility but who is to say I’ll be there later today? Awareness and integration of these principles give me the courage to take a leap and trust in my Higher Power. I am willing to see my humanity and weaknesses, to own my self-centeredness, and be open to the beauty of connection.