Dear Friends In Recovery,
Hi, AUDS here, sober and abstinent, one day at a time by the grace of God, this fellowship and my own effort.
Hmmmm! Procrastination. Today is Sunday and I have promised that I would write my thoughts each Sunday. I have been home since Wednesday evening and although I did start to write yesterday, I erased everything that I wrote. It wasn't good enough, it wasn't perfect, it wouldn't bring me accolades. Hmmm! I remember feeling like I had to get an A on my inventory. I remember my sponsor chuckling, Perfection is a liability not an asset. I have heard this at least a million times and still that people pleaser in me wants to insist on perfection.
Well, not all the time. When I was into my addictions I started everything and finished nothing. Paint the house, mow the fields, clean out the ____ (you supply the long and arduous job). I thought that I would start as soon as I had something to supply me with energy. Sugar in its many forms (alcohol and food) beckoned to me. After all, the enormity of the tasks I had set myself was overwhelming ... I needed support from my addictive substances to begin any project. Naturally, when I used first, I fell into a sugar induced stupor. When I awoke I needed to repeat my addictive behavior. I felt "less than" due to procrastination. What was the point in starting a job I probably wouldn't get praise for? What if it wasn't done perfectly and those around me found out that I couldn't create a perfect outcome?
I tried nothing that was hard. I isolated my less than perfect person where others could not condemn my ineptitude. I anesthetized my feelings. I couldn't bear to see revulsion or pity in the eyes of others. It took many twenty fours in this program before I realized everyone was not talking about me when I saw them talking to each other. It took many twenty fours to learn that I was never that good at being that bad. It took many days of doing something just for today that I didn't want to do before my growing self esteem let me try something hard.
When I went to my first meeting, Nellie offered to be my sponsor. On my first day sober and abstinent she suggested that I take something from the Just For Today card and do it. Naturally being compulsive I took five things.
1. Just for today I can be as happy as I have a mind to be. This was the first stepping stone to recovery. I was a professional victim, I had two lists of people to call: those who hurt me (B) and those who had to pity me. (A) When I had exhausted all list A's patience, when I was hearing things like "Didn't we have this conversation, yesterday,Auds?" or "What have you done to help yourself?" I started calling list B and complaining about list A. Those ungrateful people who made my life miserable.
If you had my life you would drown your sorrows in addictive substances too. If I was now going to be responsible for my own happiness (what a paradigm) who did I blame for my unhappiness?
2. Just for today I will do two things I don't want to do. This was easy, I didn't want to do anything. I started by calling my sponsor and using my medical apparatus that governed my circulation. This led to listening to another's suggestions instead of saying "yes but" or "I never." I heard that I would could die from terminal uniqueness and I realized that I could. As I expanded my list of "don't want to do" my house started to look less cluttered, my clothes replaced hastily hidden trash in the washing machine, dirty dishes came out of emergency hiding places and found their way to the dishwasher. All these things happened while I was finding ways to use the time I had spent in substance abuse. The by product of these efforts was an inkling of self esteem.
3. Just for today I will dress as becomingly as possible, speak low, and not criticize or try to control anyone. I ran a business, didn't I need to criticize? Wasn't it my right to point out where others failed? I was really good at the silent scorn thing. Okay so just for that day I tried these things and when I stopped criticizing others I became easier on myself. When I spoke low others listened instead of tuning me out. The dressing becomingly was hard at three hundred plus pounds but I tried. I actually washed clothes that had been both work clothes and sleeping togs. I actually wore different clothes now to sleep and to work.
As I started taking responsibility for my own actions, I began to feel less and less like a professional victim. As I recovered from terminal uniqueness, I discovered that being less than perfect was an asset.
When I was a few years into recovery I still took my acceptance of myself from others. My people pleasing and perfectionism were character defects which I constantly chased out the front door and when they changed appearances and knocked on my back door I welcomed them back with open arms.
I got pneumonia one winter and, as I recovered, I started walking around my house with a great green garbage bag whenever the urge to binge hit. I was ill I had the right to ____. I had relapsed once before. I knew that another relapse was possible but another recovery? I dragged that bag around a house grown untidy by neglect. I filled those bags twenty minutes at a time. Then I would sleep for hours. As I recovered my health all those twenty minutes swept my floors, washed my clothes, painted my back hall, and even when I could at last go outdoors, cleared a path in my woods. I was amazed. Jobs which would have driven me to procrastination and relapse were accomplished twenty minutes at a time over the months of my physical recovery. As my health improved so did my surroundings. Self esteem improved and I no longer had to please everybody else. I no longer needed to be perfect. I was truly serene and accepting of self for the first time in recovery. I began my attitude of gratitude lists when those old defects of character tried to push me into resentments which kill.
Here follows a quote from Theodore Roosevelt that I have painted on my back stairs wall. I read it often and it fills me with courage.
"It is not the critic who counts.
Not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles
or where the doer of deeds could have done better.
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena.
Whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood.
Who strives valiantly: who errs and comes short again and again.
Because there is no effort without error and shortcomings.
The credit belongs to the one who actually strives to do the deeds.
Who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions,
Who spends himself in a worthy cause
Who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement
And who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.
So that his place shall never be with those cold timid souls
who know neither victory nor defeat!"
From this I take it that failing is truly success as I have finally dared to try something difficult. There is no easier softer way, commitment and prayer and the belief that God can do for us what we cannot do for ourselves leads us to places beyond our wildest dreams. I believe that God "could and would" if he were sought.
All these things keep me believing that I am worthy of abstinence and sobriety, that my recovery depends on all of the above and my gratitude for all the love and acceptance I find in these rooms make me want to keep coming back.
As usual, take what you need and leave the rest. This is the path of my experience, strength and hope. May yours be yours and may you find the one who can do for you what He has done for me. This brings hugs and prayers.
I believe that God loves you ... and I know I do too.
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"Claire de Lune ~ Debussy"
"Claire de Lune ~ Debussy"