Wednesday, December 29, 2021


The topic of a few recent meetings, pulled from an Alanon reader, has been on the notion of keeping my mind and body in the same place. It's said that human beings are the only species who can time-travel, with our mental journeys to the past and into the future - futile, I know, but that doesn't stop me from the "I should've" or "What if?"  Along the lines of mind/body in the same place is something else I heard in a meeting one long ago January, when a member resolved to only have conversations with people who were actually in the room! Progress, not perfection...

Along the lines of paying-attention-to-delight I mentioned a couple of posts back, a friend and colleague, out of the blue, asked if I'd come out of retirement for a temporary, part-time position while the agency figures out what to do next. Initially I said, "No thanks," but became intrigued as I learned more, which included a site visit. And so, I slept on it (via my usual afternoon nap) and told her, "I'm in."

About a year ago now, someone else asked me to consider a part-time position, and I mightily struggled with "maybe." That offer caused a fair amount of consternation, then was gratefully rescinded. I certainly wasn't looking for work now either, but I like and trust the friend who made the offer, talked with my spouse and a trusted other, and am listening to my gut, that, this time, is saying, "Go for it!" My professional credentials are good through October 2022 - might as well use them, and a bit of extra money (is money ever actually extra?) will come in handy.

I keep thinking about the still, small voice - the one that said, "Leave your husband," "If you don't go into treatment right now, you never will," "This isn't the job for you," "Just wait to see what happens next." I don't doubt that voice as much these days as I build on the experience of paying attention to the internal knowing, the gut feeling of "yay" or "nay" without throwing in a dash of self-imposed drama. Learning to trust myself is an unanticipated gift of long-term recovery. All I really wanted when I crossed the threshold into that smokey, dingy treatment program, just shy of 36 years ago, was to stop hurting. Stop hurting and win back the man who'd already married someone else. My vision was limited by my experience, which mainly revolved around romantic relationships. Sobriety, Alanon excavations, and my now long-term friends, have shown me that I'm perfectly ok as-is, with or without a partner (which, in the way of the Universe, paved the way for connecting with my spouse).

When I was negotiating my way into a few more weeks of getting high back in 1985, I told the fellow who'd married someone else that I wanted one last New Year's Eve, so would go into treatment on January 2nd. Who was I fooling? That last New Year's Eve was pitiful, with me drinking a bottle of fancy champagne, by myself (how sadly un-festive is that??) while the heroin-addicted meth cook nodded out in the bathroom. I remember the fireplace, the darkness, and people banging pans in the street at midnight. It was a snowy winter and driving across the high arc of the Fremont Bridge towards the two-lane highway that would take us to the coast was like being in a snow globe. It would've been pretty had I not been terrified of going without my substance of choice for the next 28 days and spending that time with a group of strangers - not sure which was the bigger fear. But here again, the heroin addict gave good advice, saying to me, "Jeanine, you went 29 years without methamphetamine - you can probably last a month." And, that one month turned into two, turned into a year and now decades.  

I'm glad I couldn't see the future - it would've scared me. As much as I sometimes fight it, I am grateful for One Day at a Time, which applies to just about everything I encounter, not just staying sober. Cleaning house, feeding the aging cats, training for a walking event, eating healthy, meditating, employing the WAIT (Why Am I Talking?) - it's all one day at a time, one choice at a time.

My husband and I enjoyed a sweet and mostly quiet Christmas weekend - a meal with my brother one day, with a good friend's family another, and with our daughter the day after that. Past-Jeanine would've scheduled ten things in one day, cramming as much into each 24 hours as possible, not wanting to miss a thing. That's an old, old tape - the desire for experience and activity, probably born from the quiet of a depressed household, along with feeling I needed to grab hold NOW before "it" went away (whatever "it" of the moment may have been.). Today I can appreciate life incrementally. There isn't a time limit on enjoyment, and if it's a good idea today, it will be a good idea tomorrow. Sure, sometimes I miss out on seeing a movie on the big screen, or the perfect weather for a hike, but friendship doesn't expire. And as one friend reminds me, "If things were supposed to be any other way, they'd be different." One day at a time, I'll suit up and show up and see what's next on the Road of Happy Destiny.

Happy New Year, friends near and far, and those I haven't met in person. What is your internal compass whispering to you today? How do you cultivate stillness so that you can hear your inner wisdom? How do you make decisions about how to spend your one-day-at-a-time's? 

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For your new year's inventory, consider my workbook, "I've Been Sober a Long Time - Now What?" covering such topics as Aging, Sponsorship, Relationships, and Grief & Loss covered in a narrative, a member's view, and processing questions, with space for writing. Perfect for sharing with a sponsor, trusted other, or in a small group.

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