Saturday, June 4, 2011

“Tests And Opportunities”

It’s raining again. The weather forecast tells me that it’s going to be like this for the next few days, culminating in thunderstorms on Monday. The talk amongst friends is that we’re tired of this, it’s June, and where the hell is Summer?! It’s a good thing this blog isn’t the soapbox for all my liberal causes, otherwise I’d be starting a long rant about the global climate change deniers. Alas, this is a Recovery blog and Recovery teaches us acceptance of others and letting go of the things we cannot change.

I’m a fan of rain, to tell the truth. Sitting here, at my computer in my studio upstairs, I have a great view of the drops coming down, washing over the leaves of trees that probably are supposed to have fallen off already. There’s a comfort for me in the rain, something about how it sends everyone running for cover. It’s just a little water, folks! Nature, God, Mother Earth--however you choose to describe it--is a powerful force, a great reminder of the power out there greater than ourselves.

Tapping into the spiritual energy, cultivating a deeper relationship with the power greater than ourselves, is such a an important part of the program. At first, we use that power to help us stay clean & sober (since we’re powerless to do so on our own). Later, as we progress in the program, we learn to rely on it more and more for our everyday lives (because our lives are unmanageable). Lately, I’ve been reminded how we get the help we need from our higher power--if we ask for it.

Something I have had major difficulty with in the past is having strong boundaries and not letting myself get taken advantage of. Making a long story very short, I recently stood up for myself on an issue along those lines. It was difficult, but I knew I needed to take action. I talked it over with my sponsor, then with his guidance did what I had to do. I felt like total shit afterwards. I called my sponsor to let him know how things had gone. He was really supportive and reassured me that I had done the right thing.

I wasn’t entirely convinced, so I started calling some other people in my life to get their opinions. It wasn’t that I didn’t trust what my sponsor had said, just that what my own diseased brain was saying was so much louder. So I called some other people whose opinion I really respect as well. They all reaffirmed what my sponsor had said. It was enough for me to say to myself, “okay brain, I hear you shouting over there, but I’m not going to listen to you this time.” I’ve been doing this Recovery thing long enough to know that my disease lies to me. All. The. Time.

Here’s where the Higher Power ties in, though: I had been doing a lot of praying and meditating about this issue, asking for guidance, for help. After I took action, the very next day I was presented with two more opportunities to practice my new and different behavior in this area. One was an issue of setting boundaries so that I don’t get taken advantage of, the other was not rescuing someone else and allowing them to be responsible for their own problems. It’s almost as if the Infinite All said, “Really? You really want to change how you do this? Well, here’s a little test to see if you’re serious.”

I’m a big believer in Three being a spiritual number; it has shown significance in my life. To have three examples on this issue, all with 24 hours, to me that’s a sign of my higher power at work in my life. I don’t know for sure if I was being tested, per se, but I lit up my spiritual space last night and gave thanks to the spirits anyway for it. I even burned a little sage.

Talking with one of my fellows after a meeting last night, we compared notes. I told him about what I’d just been through. He shared about his moving through a period of growth in his program as well, even though it’s over a different issue. The thing we both connected on is how we see these times, when they happen in our lives now, as opportunities for progress. We know that the disease wants us to fail these tests. The disease doesn’t want us to succeed, to take care of ourselves, or to feel good. The disease wants us to feel like shit so that we’ll go out, get loaded, feel even worse, and then (ultimately) die.

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