Friday, July 9, 2010

“A Meeting Outside The Meeting”

(This blog is second in a three-part series, “Confessions of a Bad Mood”)

I blog from my phone a lot. It’s easier to sit at the computer and type, but I like being out in the world and writing. I can totally understand why people take their laptops to coffee shops. Writing at home, I’m alone; when I blog from my smartphone. I’m around other people. We humans are social creatures, after all.

It was as I started the previous entry that I saw a friend from the program. This is someone I have a lot in common with and have bumped into more than once. We’re both musicians, we both write. He’s got some years on me, in terms of clean time, and has been through his share of shit. I told him a little about the space I was in, and he did what we in the program so often do: he opened up to me about himself.

He told me about what his life has been like the past few years, the struggles he’s gone through, that he’s still going through. And the message was a powerful one--through it all, he stayed sober. At the lowest possible moment, he received a touch of grace from his higher power, and from that moment on, he knew that everything was going to be alright.

I felt so fortunate, being able to sit there and listen to him. A one-on-one situation can be so much easier for me than a crowded meeting. Listening to him, I knew that I had plenty to be grateful for, though the thing I’m most grateful for was being able to get outside myself when I was hurting in a bad way.

Recovery is a journey. It doesn’t stop when we get a year, or two years, or five or ten or twenty. We experience different things at different stages, depending on how we work the program and what life hands us. I find myself thinking about something I shared once: that I’ve been really fortunate not to endure some of the real life trials that most people go through. And this man I talked with tonight showed me true kindness, by understanding what I was feeling and not shitting on it (as some other people in my life have in the past).

He didn’t have to do that. He could have said, “You’re upset because you got your job BACK??” and laughed at me. He could have talked down to me, told me how ungrateful I was. But he didn’t. He understood. He knows how our minds work, that whatever we’re going through can seem like the worst of the worst.

Sometimes I feel like I’m not fully in the world. It’s as though my soul, when it was placed in this earthly body, was shoved into a container incorrectly sized. A round peg in a square hole. When I’m low, the way I was today, it can be a dangerous place for me. I come down on myself for not being perfect. I come down on myself for not being able to appreciate all the good things I do have and focusing so intently on the tiny bits of bad. It’s one of my character defects, this negative egotism. And at the same time I want to lash out at the world for not respecting how I feel.

It’s a balancing act, acknowledging how I feel while at the same time keeping grounded in reality. With what I happened today, I have to remember that this huge, life-altering change happened very suddenly. When I was laid-off, I’d had months to mentally prepare. Going back to work, I had less than 72 hours. Going back to work is every bit as big of a change as becoming unemployed.

I know there are countless others out there who are less fortunate than I am. I know, too, that I have many other gifts which don’t translate as well into financial gain. Those are the things that make my life worth living, and being back at work doesn’t take them away from me. If anything, it makes them all the more precious.

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