Repeatedly in the rooms one hears people saying that one day they suddenly had this overwhelming feeling that they had had enough of their drinking, drugging or binging on food. For many of them this became their sober date. What they failed to mention is that in the past they had made similar declarations. Yet the next day they returned to their addictive behavior. Why did this last statement of contrition work?
Perhaps it can be likened to a combination lock. It can only work when all of the cylinders are aligned and click into place. The same is true of sobriety. Only when the right combination of circumstances falls into place does our proclamation of our last drink or drug hold true. Why did all of those circumstances align so that we finally, finally had the resolve to put down our drug of choice. Prior to that, left to our own devices we repeatedly had failed. We believe that it was only through the intercession of a power greater than ourselves that we we were able to say for the very last time that we were sick and tired of being sick and tired. The last cylinder clicked into place and we were finally on the road to recovery.
Personal Reflection: What locks continue to be opened for me through my Higher Power?
As we go through the day it’s perfectly normal to encounter a wide range of emotions. Some of these will be pleasurable while others are uncomfortable or downright painful. Prior to the program we sought a release from feelings which caused us discomfort or pain through our drug of choice. Because we buffered feelings with alcohol, drugs or food, we never really got a chance to find a resolution to many of these painful circumstances. When a difficulty came up, we just covered it with a substance.
In sobriety, we have chosen a different pathway. When things happen in our lives which cause us to become angry, resentful, fearful or sad, we no longer attempt to escape. Rather, we allow ourselves to feel the feelings. Sobriety has helped us to identify these feelings and seek a solution to whatever is bothering us. We no longer need to cover over our problems. We can take steps to deal with the anger, fear, or any other emotion which has overrun us. Over time we evolve strategies which help us avoid many life situations which in the past would have caused us harm. Utilizing the steps we begin to heal the wreckage of our past.
Personal Reflection: Am I walking around with unresolved feelings?
Mental telepathy would make our lives so much easier. If we could read other people’s minds, we could find out so much information effortlessly. We would know when someone needed our help. If a person had a resentment towards us, we could immediately make amends and repair the relationship. Of course, as of now mental telepathy doesn’t exist. Yet, some people seem to think that it does.
People walk around expecting others to be able to read their minds. When that doesn’t happen, they will say things like, “I can’t believe that she didn’t call me when she knew I was so upset”, or “I’m so annoyed that he didn’t help me clean the dishes. Didn’t he see me standing there at the sink?”
In recovery, we learned early on that we needed to ask others for help if we wanted it. Perhaps our fear of being told no or our perfectionism prevented us from asking for another’s assistance. We also learned that asking others for aid would not guarantee their assistance. However, one thing was for sure. If we didn’t ask, we would be left alone and without help.
Finally, once we began to ask others in the fellowship for assistance we discovered how many people were willing to go to any length to help us.
Personal Reflection: How can I give or receive help today?
Ask the average person to make a list of what’s wrong with their life. They would have little difficulty coming up with a litany of complaints. In short order they would hand you an extensive list. Complaints would include issues with the family, the job, friends, and associates.
Now ask the same person to come up with a list of what’s good in their life. Generally, they would have much more difficulty coming up with the blessings they possess. You would also find that the list of blessings would be much shorter than that of the problems.
Listening to some people you would think that they never had a bright moment in their day. Even the thoughts they keep to themselves are often found to be of a negative nature.
Part of recovery is becoming more aware of our negativity. One suggestion is that every time we have a negative thought, we supplant it with a positive one. Initially this might occur dozens of times. With practice the frequency of our negativity will diminish and be replaced with a sense of blessing.
Personal Reflection: What blessings have I forgotten to acknowledge today?
No matter how hard we work our program, sometimes we need to detach from other people. This usually occurs because as we grow in our program, some of the people from our past do not accept some of the changes we have made in ourselves. For a multitude of reasons they want us to return to our old ways. Even though we politely and often firmly tell them that we no longer want to engage in “our old dance” they continue to escalate to force us to return to our old behavior. When this occurs it is best for us to detach in as loving a way as possible.
After a period of time, many of these people will begin to accept our changed self. We can reestablish our relationship with a new set of boundaries. This can often be the basis for an entirely new chapter in our relationship. Many newcomers are far too quick to jettison relationships with family, friends and colleagues because these people are not used to the sober person who stands before them. By separating from people for a limited period of time, we can, when possible rekindle our connection with them.
Personal Reflection: Do I need to detach from someone in my life for the time being?