A dear friend since middle school relapsed. We’d shared so much, got married, had kids, and divorced around the same time. She moved far away. I got sober. Years later so did she. She relapsed once, twice. Recently she hit a new bottom. But when that bottom hit another bottom, her adult kids (those still speaking to her) joined forces. Filled with anger, disgust, fear, and resentment yet also just enough compassion, love, and caring to literally save her life, they called. Could I help, they wondered? A series of decisions had been made, actions were taken and delegated.
In AA they often say that the alcoholic has to hit rock bottom before they can get sober. Makes you think of social services, homelessness, and the park bench stereotype. I prefer to think of it as my turning point because it wasn’t a big or dramatic event, it was simply a combination of mainly two things: I’d had it with drinking, and at the right moment, I saw my life line. I was desperate to stop, and just when I needed it, there was a chance for me to ask for help so I did. Oh, and a third ingredient: a tiny bit of hope.
I had worked on sobriety for quite some time before I understood that I was missing the magic ingredient of other people. I did not want to trouble anyone. I did not want to be different than anyone. And I felt no personal connection to women in recovery. I wanted to quietly change one tiny part of my life and then get on with the rest of it. So I took the isolated approach. I troubled no one; was no different than anyone; and developed no personal connections.
Why is the idea of “belonging to something greater than oneself” such an intense psychosocial need? More importantly, is “God” the only path to that sort of belonging? And is sobriety — and even regular garden-variety self-improvement — really out of reach if one does not believe in the supernatural? Many people believe so… What is the benefit of twining religion with addiction recovery? And is there hope for addicts who prefer a different type of motivation than “spiritual guidance” for turning their life around?
If a picture is worth 1000 words, then a word is worth 1000 pictures. Since waking up to this, I’m more selective with my words, whether uttered or just in thought. In the past, words tumbled mindlessly around in my head stirring up emotions, frequently negative, that would spontaneously combust into a tirade or a tantrum, or simmer as internal gloom, fear, or resentment. And I thought it was real. I simply wasn’t paying attention.
The Serenity Prayer… only 27 little words, but with such power, strength, and insight packed perfectly within. Potentially treacherous situations––like being at work or being at home, being with my kids or with my parent, throughout my marriages and for sure during my divorces, in conversations and confrontations––this mantra, this ultimate navigational tool, can be counted on to unfailingly guide me through.
For some reason, cable companies seem to think having 200+ channels is a selling point. But I can only watch one at a time. No matter how many there are to choose from, I’ll only see on my screen what my tuner is set to in that moment. This great TV analogy always helps me grasp that it’s how I tune my focus and my thinking that determines what scenes, images, and experiences play out on the screen of my life.
As Thanksgiving approached, I was almost five months sober––and an orphan. Up until then, I had not experienced a holiday without my Mom and Dad. Honestly, I had no idea how I would make it through, much less stay sober. By the grace of God, the rooms of AA and the people in them, and my friends in Science of Mind, I did make it through––and I did stay sober. In a very real way, I learned what it meant to live one day at a time. And within those days, I frequently practiced living one moment at a time and one breath at a time.