Wednesday, December 30, 2009

“Keep On Keepin’ On”

Sometimes there is nothing more difficult than continuing on in spite of everything being more or less okay. Most of us have times in our Recovery when there is no drama to focus on, there are no crises to deal with, no celebrations to be had. Life, through some seemingly bizarre set of circumstances, becomes calm and uneventful for a while.

Right now, there are a number of folks reading this and laughing. I understand how that feels. I remember a time when it seemed there would never be an end to the ups and downs. Even after I had gotten clean and sober, the chaos and insanity of my old life persisted. Through working my steps, by working my program, things changed. I began to experience those minutes, hours, then days of serenity. Gradually, and with time, the ups and downs became the exception rather than the rule. I had a whole new challenge in front of me: how to live when life wasn’t crazy.

The ups and downs of our old life can be like an addiction all on its own. We get so used to the insanity that we feel like we don’t know how to live without it. Some people get into Recovery and continue on with the drama and trauma. They find all sorts of ways to ensure that it continues, usually without even realizing they are doing so. Some fall into traps of severe codependence, involving themselves in others’ lives and issues unnecessarily. Some get involved in chaotic relationships. Sometimes we continue on with the chaos and insanity simply because it’s all we’ve ever known, or because we don’t feel as though we’re really alive without it.

Letting go of the chaos and insanity, allowing ourselves to have those moments of serenity isn’t automatic. Sometimes we’ll reach a ‘bottom’ with it. We’ll throw up our hands or hang our head in despair, and decide deep within our being that we just don’t want to do it like that anymore, or can’t. We decide to find another way. Getting used to that other way, like other aspects of our Recovery, takes time and practice.

There have been times for me when the peace was too much to take, and I found ways to bring chaos back into my life. It’s not something I regret, but these days I definitely have more interest in letting go of the chaos, allowing it to pass out of my life. There are risks there. Part of my disease is a need to self-sabotage. One of the common dangers I am vulnerable to is boredom. But with time and practice, I have learned to accept that sometimes life really is okay; the even keel isn’t such a bad thing. And the more I experience it, the more I prefer it to the insanity. The more I allow it to happen, the more practiced I get at doing so.

The spiritual principle that jumps out at me during these times is that of Perseverance, the principle behind the tenth step. It can mean soldiering on when times are tough, or that when good things are happening in our lives we allow them to happen, or simply being content in our times of peace and serenity. If there isn’t much happening in our lives at a particular moment, our job is to accept the reality of what is. It’s called dealing with life on life’s terms, even if life’s terms happen to be that not much is going on.

If our lives are crazy, we can accept it and handle it accordingly. If things are peaceful and uneventful, we can accept that, too. We don’t have to move backwards, back towards insanity. We can take a moment to be thankful for what is, what life and our higher power has given us, even if it happens to be a bit ‘blah’. For myself, I’ll take blah over chaos and insanity any day. After all, this too shall pass. And when I think back on those dark days when I never thought I would have times of peace and serenity, I am filled with gratitude.

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