We are in a constant state of wanting. Wanting the next stage, wanting the next thing to happen, wanting because we do not want to be where we are. When I get to the next stage in my life I will truly be successful. My life will have started. I will have everything I have always wanted. It will be great then.
It’s the little things that remind me I really am getting better at surrendering that which I cannot control, at changing the things I can, and unleashing my wisdom to choose ease and grace over struggle and strife. It can be something as simple as coffee, or lack thereof. I don’t consider coffee a vice, though I do have a borderline addictive desire for it each morning. However, it is the even stronger desire to lace it with CoffeeMate hazelnut creamer, with its list of unpronounceable, multi-syllabic ingredients, none of which seem to involve a cow, which poses potential concern.
Most people would agree that spirituality is the foundation of recovery. Even those who initially struggle with the idea of a Higher Power usually discover a spiritual hunger within themselves. Fortunately, twelve-step programs urge us to find our own definition of God. I believe the primary reason New Thought harmonizes with Alcoholic Anonymous so beautifully is that neither approach attempts to tell us what to think; rather, each offers an effective model for how to think. For those of us who adhere to both philosophies, this is a match made in heaven.
So much symbolism in this holiday, and at this time of year for those of us in recovery. Long days to live life to the fullest… Independence Day for our country – it’s a birthday – take a chip, USA. Some of the freedoms we hold dear in recovery are ideals, concepts, and things we strive for – which is also true for us as a country… progress not perfection. But today and this month, let’s honor the freedoms we have created for ourselves – and that is MUCH to celebrate!
Today is my sobriety birthday! On June 29, 1988, I enjoyed an early, three-martini lunch just before checking into a treatment center for a 30-day inpatient program. To be clear, I did not enter treatment for alcoholism, as I was not one of those awful people with a drinking problem. I knew people like that, and I certainly was not one of them. At the time, I had been abstinent in OA for a year. After months and months of abstaining from starving and bingeing and purging, I was an emotional wreck. I was working a strong program, but I need serious help, so I opted for treatment.
As I peer into the sizzling and dazzlingly beautiful month of July, the month that honors freedom and the ideals that define who we are, I sense new ideas, new opportunities, and new situations lighting up my consciousness like fireworks bursting in air. I am grateful to know that I am freer from the bondage of self than ever before. I celebrate my independence from the need for alcohol, drugs, and behaviors that no longer serve me. I know the ideals I strive for guide me as I travel my path, and I celebrate my progress, free from any expectation of perfection.
I went to comical lengths to hide my drinking. I guess it’s part shame. And for me it was also related to the basic fact that I drank to try to achieve privacy. Some weird not-grounded-in-reality need for privacy, because I drank even when I was as alone as humanly possible. Like, in a tent in a state park in Maine where the nearest person who knew me was hundreds of miles away. I drank then. In an idyllic place on an idyllic vacation. A topic for another post.
I was rereading the Big Book recently looking for some references, and noticed there are a few points along the 12 step way where the action we are asked to take is done mentally or internally. Things like making or reaffirming a decision, and reconnecting with the higher power nature of the infinite, and with the higher power nature in ourselves. That’s interesting – I guess alcoholics need that extra reminder to stop and be clear about what we are doing by re-minding ourselves to pause – even when not agitated – but pause and think, reflect, stay tuned in. That’s a big one for me – it’s helpful to slow down and take a breath now and then.