Wednesday, May 4, 2022


In marking a friend's 35th sobriety anniversary this week, he noted he hadn't expected to grow old in recovery. Isn't that the truth? I came in on the 30-day plan to get the heat off, with absolutely no idea I'd still be doing the deal all these years later. As grateful as I am on a daily basis, I'm also thankful that I didn't have a crystal ball back then - the life I have today, as simple as it is, would've scared me - maybe right back to the bottle. College?? An actual career? Talking from a podium?? Being a step-mom? No thanks  - sounds like more than  I'm capable of. Fortunately, life on life's terms generally comes at me incrementally.

When I was a young girl, maybe 7 or 8, I wanted to grow up to be a horse. Not have a horse, be a horse. Then I hoped to be Pippi Longstocking, or someone adventurous like her - I had a recurring dream of joining the Navy, sailing off to ports unknown. And then, puberty hit and all I wanted was a cloaking device. Was it merely hormones, or a combination of internal combustion plus the emotional dynamics of family alcoholism? I'll never be able to separate those two - which came first, the chicken or the egg - but finally, finally, I've been able to release the hold that my perception of the past had on me. But it is interesting (to me, at least) to watch the progression of my dreams get smaller as I got older - from independently traveling the world (Pippi) to wanting to be a teacher (because I loved school in the early years) to thinking maybe I'd like to be a secretary. There's nothing wrong with office work - I've done my share, and I like the organization involved - but from sheer adventure to sitting behind a desk says more about my growing introversion than about my abilities. The world became scary, but really, it was my fears of not being "enough" that shrank my view. (I should add that I did a lot of traveling with my pre-recovery boyfriend, which was amazing and I often felt like an imposter, like Room Service would say, "'Who do you think you are?") 

So much of what I believe is perception, whether about the past, or my current interactions. I recently heard someone say that 2 + 2 = 4, but so does 3 + 1, or 6 - 2. There are lots of ways to get at the "right" answers of this life. The combination that works for me won't necessarily be what's best for you - and maybe what worked for me last week or last year isn't what is called for today. That is an on-going lesson, the Alanon-ic belief that I know what's best for others (or in AA, what is described as the Director - "if only people would do as he wished!" Big Book p.61). But I also don't always know what is best for myself. My inner guide is much wiser these days, but sometimes still it is the scared part that steers me towards a particular decision. A good rule of thumb - does this course or that feel expansive or does it make me shrink? And always the reminder that "wait" is an action. If I don't know what to do, it's ok to do nothing until the way is clear.

We're on vacation this week, so will just do a short post since I'm typing on my phone. Happy trails to you, wherever your journey takes you, whether to a movie on the couch or a travel adventure.

If alcoholism/alanon-ism is a disease of perception, how do you catch yourself entertaining old ideas? Often our perceptions are spot on, but sometimes not. How do you know the difference?

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See the Feb 4 post for a sample of the 78 page workbook, "I've Been Sober a Long Time - Now What?" available as hard copy (mailed) or PDF (emailed - ideal  for those of you outside  the U.S.). Portland Area Intergroup also has a supply.

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