Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Letting go...

 How does one do that "letting go" thing, you may ask. It's a question I certainly had for my treatment counselors all those years ago. One in particular, a wise and gruff older gal, said to me, "You just let go!" moving her hands from closed fist to open, which was of little help at the time. Hold on, let go, manipulate, obsess, release in very small increments - this has been a tough lesson. Often I don't even realize I'm trying to control until I notice my (metaphorical) clenched fists or shallow breathing. Uh oh. Have I forgotten my powerlessness? 

In a new-to-me online meeting this past week, a member shared that the Steps are tools, not weapons. Oh yeah. I can sometimes come at the self-correction part of Steps 6,7 and 10 with a bludgeon. I did that, again? Will I ever learn? Crap.  (you get the idea)

What if I was to truly employ the strategy a sponsor gave me long ago, which is to imagine holding that tender part of myself in my arms, saying, "Ah, here you are again. What is it you need to feel safe (or loved, or secure)?" As I very well know, behavior is rarely changed via punishment, whether self-imposed or otherwise.

I am certainly far from perfect - how boring would that be? This last week, the person in the big SUV behind me honked when I didn't take a left turn. I didn't take the left turn because I could see that the very long train I'd been trying to out-maneuver since leaving Costco 10 miles earlier, had traffic stopped up ahead. I may have given him a snarky wave, ala "take a breath, buddy" and will admit to wishing the train delay on him, and...  within a few blocks was singing along with the radio. I don't hold on to stuff as long as I once did, especially random traffic slights. And, really, how important is it? 

I've written here about my transition from running to walking, and have likely mentioned that I participate in a weekly training group. This last week I was invited to join the ranks of Pace Mentor, which essentially means showing up (which I do anyway) and earning a pair of shoes and a cool t-shirt. Unlike running mentors, who need to maintain a consistent speed, the walking mentor is a pretty low-key position, but I got a little misty telling my husband about it. For so many years I told myself I wasn't an athlete - I never, ever played any sports after summers of street ball as a pre-teen. The perceived humiliation of the President's Fitness Test (those of you Americans in a particular age range will know what I mean) didn't help - there was no way in hell I could shimmy up that rope. And then high school, when even the idea of getting dressed and undressed in front of strangers had me nauseous (and earned my only ever "D" for non-participation). Then I got sober and someone suggested that walking helped with detox. Then someone else recommended Jazzercise, the aerobics classes set to pop music. And then I started to run and tackled a marathon, inspired more by Oprah than my gazelle boyfriend. 10 marathons later, I transitioned to walking to save my creaky knees, with a goal of striding off into the sunset. So I guess I am an athlete. I don't need to make excuses, being wary of "I'm just a walker." I suit up and show up, and as I often joke, "I'm not fast but I'm consistent." In my personal before-times I didn't show up consistently for much, unless it was happy-hour or the dealer. Vive la difference.

So, this week I'm thinking about self-acceptance, and letting go (of my foibles and yours). I'm sitting in gratitude, reveling in not working (yay!) and plotting out time that is now, once again, my own. I'm not the best at letting go, still, but those little visuals, like the closed and open fists, help, as does thinking about all the things I've stressed about in the past that never came to be. One day at a time, right here right now, all is reasonably well.

What does letting go mean to you today? Are the ways you conjure the energy of release any different now than what you may have done in the past? Can you continue, again and again, to forgive yourself for stubbing your toe on people, places and things? What are labels you once gave yourself that no longer fit? How would you describe yourself today?

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Check out the post from Feb 4 for a sample of the 78-page workbook, "I've Been Sober a Long Time - Now What?" now available in PDF or hard copy. Email me at with any questions. For those of you local in Portland, Intergroup has just restocked their supply of the workbook - head down to see Garry and the crew for all the AA literature and the little room with non-conference approved offerings.

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