Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Use it or lose it...

 Riding my bike to an Alanon meeting, and especially walking back up the hill I can normally power through, it struck me that it's much easier to stay in shape than to get in shape. With recent travel and other schedule disruptions, my usual wellness routines have been a bit off, and I'm definitely feeling my quadriceps screaming, "Use it or lose it!"

I think the notion of staying in shape vs getting in shape also applies to my program, my spiritual fitness. Whatever my practice, it doesn't serve me to simply pick and choose, for example the old two-step of One and Twelve we used to hear about, or to merely utilize program principles when it suits me. Practicing the principles, for me, means consistency - meeting attendance, sure, but not just that. It also means routines of meditation and journaling, reading, and connecting with others on a similar path as well as living in the solution instead of the problem (whatever the problem may be on any given day). 

I'm not great at reaching out, suffering from "I-can-do-it-myself-ism," which seems more pronounced as I gain years in recovery. It was somewhat easier at the beginning, with questions around getting through the holidays sober, or all the other firsts that I looked to others to explain. These days, reaching out doesn't usually even directly relate to recovery, but more to my human need to see and be seen - not in the old way of being on the make or at the latest event, but on a soul-to-soul level. I recently found myself crying over two past losses in conversation with a good friend, feeling the sweet vulnerability that is a by-product of trust. I may not always recognize when I'm in the emptiness of disconnection, but I do recognize the exhale when sharing an honest laugh, or tears or disclosures. And sometimes that sense of relief comes simply from being with someone(s) I know on a level deeper than "How are you? I'm fine." I'm so grateful for the life experience that has resulted in most of my relationships being of the real-and-true variety instead of superficiality. As a new friend recently said, "I no longer have time for shallow." 

I no longer have time for shallow but must admit that my inner teenager still carries around the old fears of comparison. I'm having a slew of feelings around my upcoming high school reunion (duh, you might say). I enjoy throwing a party, so am excited to see who shows up, and... the part of me that remembers feeling lost and invisible, the me who spent most of my non-class time smoking cigarettes at the donut shop or reefer in the park, is triggered. It is my own inner critic that whispers, "Why are you, of all people, facilitating this thing?" And then I read the Nov 11 Daily Reflection that mentions being willing to let go of "arrogant self-criticism." Ouch. Ouch but oh yeah. I can acknowledge the feelings and let them move through without getting stuck in the "me, me, me." I am not 15. I am not stoned. I am not paralyzed with self-centered fear. And, most importantly, I am not in charge. I got the permit, I've helped spread the word, I've made the mix-tapes, and it will be what it will be. 

Life is interesting, isn't it? As one of our committee members texted, "Who would've imagined 50 years ago that we'd still be in touch and would be communicating via hand-held computers?" Indeed. I can trust that I'm not the only one with gray hair and some extra pounds, and did that ever really matter anyway? I look forward to seeing people. I look forward to asking if life has turned out the way they imagined it. I look forward to connection.

What are your routines? How do you achieve, practice or maintain spiritual fitness? What connections feel important for you to maintain or perhaps rekindle?  How do you honor and acknowledge old tender feelings without getting stuck? 

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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 outside the U.S.). Portland Area Intergroup also has a supply available, 825 NE 20th Ave.  Click on the words  ViewWEB VERSION at the bottom of this page, if you don't see the purchase link in the upper right corner.

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