"It’s not true that life is one damn thing after another; it is one damn thing over and over.”
~ Edna St. Vincent Millay
Edna wasn’t writing about “stay home, stay safe,” but she sure could’ve been. While things are visibly loosening up here, the days can still feel like a perpetual Groundhog Day, the movie where Bill Murray lives the same twenty-four hours over and over again. In most of the meetings (zoom) I’m attending, folks are sharing about their ups and downs, from acceptance to irritation to fear and back again, as well as gratitude for our individual circumstances, especially sobriety. If I were drinking & drugging, I can almost guarantee I wouldn’t be following any old stay-at-home orders. But, I learned in early recovery that whatever I'm feeling in the moment will pass (happy or sad, good mood or pissy). My challenge is not to make any major decisions when I'm in a funk.
I've come to realize, yet again, that one of my coping skills, and one I overlook too often, is the power of connection. Last Friday, I went for a (masked & distanced) walk with a good friend I don't see much anymore. During the course of our visit, I apologized for letting "life" get in the way of time together. The drift came on subtly - new husband, conflicting schedules, the couch calling my name after work... And then I wake up and realize I've been married nearly 9 years and what started as an adjustment has become habit. Living with someone for the first time in just under a decade, I relished both together time and the luscious solitude between our shifts. I guarded that time, which meant less hanging out with friends. I usually just want to get home. Some of that home urge is probably a natural evolution of aging - I need to pace myself in ways I've never had to before. No matter what my internal self thinks, I am old. And, I'm very aware that’s a privilege. Sunday was the anniversary of my father’s birthday. He died at 56. I will always regret not having a sober, adult relationship with him, in the category of “if I’d known then what I know now." I can use his brief life as a reminder to truly live today, which means both celebrating all that goes in to the word “home” and maintaining and nurturing my important and valuable friendships.
Someone in a meeting this weekend reminded herself of the slogan “Get out of the hallway,” related to the annoying adage that “god doesn’t close one door without opening another.” Ugh, and not always true. Sometimes I need to hang out in the hallway for a while. The trick is not to set up a lawn chair and get comfy. Right now I am very much in-between, not very productive at work, while itching to make that final leap into freedom. My replacement was designated last week - one more step in this part of the journey.
My husband’s first sponsor often said to him, “Do the work and the gifts will come.” Yes. Sometimes the gifts of recovery are wrapped in sorrow, loss or change, and sometimes in ribbons of joy. Either way, all I really need to do is suit up and show up, just like the old timers used to say. Suit up, show up, and pay attention to those little nudges that say, "Pick up the phone."
What are your coping mechanisms when life feels either topsy-turvy or outright boring? If where you live is opening back up, how do you feel about that, and how will you continue efforts to stay safe while venturing out? What does suiting up and showing up look like for you today?
NOTE: “I’ve Been Sober a Long Time – Now What? A workbook for the Joys & Challenges of Long Term Recovery” is a 78 page workbook, 8 ½ x11 format, with topics (such as grief, aging, sponsorship) that include a member’s view and processing questions. Available at Portland Area Intergroup at 825 N.E. 20th or online through this blog page. If you would like to purchase online, you will need to go to the WEB VERSION of this page to view the link to PayPal or Credit Card option. Email me at email@example.com if you’d like more information