Sunday, May 30, 2010

"Life Happens"

It's said, time and time again, that just because you get sober, your life doesn't get instantly better. Recovery isn't a magical button that you push that resets everything to a setting labeled 'perfect'. Instead, what we get is something we don't have when we're in the grips of our disease: we get the chance to live our lives, to be fully present, counted and accountable, without the crippling influence of active addiction.

Being stuck in my disease means being stuck inside myself. I can be in denial about reality just as easily as I was about my addiction. When something happens that I don't want, that I don't like, my first instinct is to hide away in my head inside my own privately-defined world, where things happen according to what I say and what I want. In my head, I control reality, and do I ever get cranky when the world outside intrudes.

Fortunately, I'm getting better and better at not retreating inside myself. Something else that's fortunate is knowing that I don't have to like what's going on all the time--either with life or with me. Acceptance does not imply approval. If it did, then the act of accepting our disease wouldn't lead to any action. We'd simply say, "welp, I'm an addict; how about that?" And nothing would change. No, acceptance means being one with the real, living in what is, taking life on life's terms instead of trying to force reality to be what we wish it were.

When I'm accepting of what is, then I can deal with it. When I stop trying to control reality, it becomes manageable again. It's the fear that I won't be able to handle life that leads me to my attempts to control. With the tools of the program, and my continued practice in using them, that fear has been dissipating. The main key seems to be acceptance. If I can know what it is, then I can find the strength and courage to walk through whatever life is throwing at me and know that I will get through it. The walking through it gives me yet more experience and confidence in myself and in living the program. The more I work it, the more I am reminded that it works.

The opposite is true, too. When I give in to the fear, I don't conquer it; I stay afraid. When I choose to stay stuck inside myself, that's exactly where I stay. Feeling sorry for myself doesn't improve my self-esteem, it worsens it. Refusing to deal with my problems doesn't make them go away, it causes them to get worse. I get to choose the path, now, and whichever direction I choose to walk, the path carries me along. Healthy actions can lead to more healthy actions--if I allow them to. Unhealthy choices lead to more of the same--again, if that's what I let happen.

Recovery has given me a choice on how I deal with life. I can choose now to take care of myself, do what I need to do to stay spiritually fit. I can choose now to accept what's real. I didn't have that choice when I spent every waking hour loaded. Recovery has given me a set of tools on how to do that. With practice, I'm getting better each day at using them. And every day, each day, one day at a time, I get to make that choice on whether or not I want to stay sober and continue on the spiritual path.

It's not a path where the destination is perfection; it's a path where the journey is what's important and the scenery along the way is nothing more special, or precious, that reality itself.

No comments:

Post a Comment