Happy Anniversary to Me!
Today’s Blog is dedicated to my father, who doubted my recovery in the car ride on the way home from the treatment center in July of 2001.
(Cut and Paste this tune from my old pals The Little River Band)
Â Chalking-Up the Miles!Â
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
First things first, Okay?
If ———- you call the annual observance of another year of your sobriety or recovery your â€œBIRTHDAYâ€â€¦â€¦.â€
Y’all need some schoolin’ raght now!
So hereâ€™s what the Dictionary says:
[burth-dey] Show IPA
noun 1. the anniversary of a birth 2. the dayÂ of a person’s birth.3. a dayÂ marking or commemorating the origin, founding, or beginning of something. 4. the festivities or celebration marking such a dayÂ or anniversary.
I know, I know, I knowwwww! Iâ€™m WRONG â€“Technically! But in American ( That’s where I’M from) Colloquial English no-one EVER calls their Anniversary their Birthday —— except in Recovery Rooms where according to the back half of Step II we know that: â€œwe could be restored to sanityâ€ (ergo — most of us are just a touch bonkers).
Okay – IF…..you’re into the whole “reborn” thing I guess you could call it your “re-birthday” 🙂
â€œBu-bu-bu-but itâ€™s my Birthday because I was rhetorically – uhhhh – I was metaphorically â€œre-bornâ€ from my hopeless state of alcoholism and addiction………… and blah-blah-blah,â€ you say.
You were NOT reborn â€“ it is anatomically impossible to be reborn! (and as to some out there, may I now express my endless gratitude for that fact because being exposed to your life once, is ALL Mankind should ever have to endure! 🙂
Yeah – okay! We had a moment of fun, but now onto the important business of reflections and realizations of recovery principles learned over the last 12 years, as I “carry the message”, as I see it.
Main Emotional Blockages to Sane Recovery
We all know about productive fear – that adrenalin rush you get when your safety or health are in danger. It helps you generate immediate and heightened awareness of what’s going on, what your instant survival options are and what’s going to happen if you don’t act. Like if you don’t immediately squash Mr. Cane Spider he could bite you and,….it is impossible to imagine what would happen if he was a she! If you’re about to slip and fall, YOU KNOW what the consequences will be if you don’t grasp support somehow. It’s instinctive.
BUT —- fear can also play with your head ( it sure has with mine). I mean — irrational fear.
F.E.A.R. False Evidence Appearing Real
We’re talking about apprehension, prediction, false anticipation – a runaway paranoid imagination that tells you someone, some institution or some thing is out to get you. Frighteningly BAD things are going to happen to you – you just know it in your scared-e-cat specter of doom!
An old friend often told me: “Arthur, you really don’t know what the future is going to bring” and he was right. Those ghostly apprehensions and apparitions were usually a part of my acute craziness – my Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome, which lasts for years sometimes.
It could also be that acute insanity – a neurosis that plagued our lives even before we became drug addled drunks. We find it had became an early pattern of our behavior, always thinking we’d lose what we have, not get what we want or get caught for what we had done and were planning on doing. Worse, more often then not my fears tended to be unreal apparitions and false premonitions – they didn’t turn out at all like I thought they would. Double worse – hard as I try to change, I still do it!
How do we remove or at the least alter those patterns?
We learn to respond instead of react.
How do we acquire that skill? We start by taking time to process. If we don’t know what to do…… we wait, and if you’re like me it’s going to be far more than worthy of such restraint.
We begin by simple focusing of our consciousness on our breath for a few moments, clearing the irrational anxiety. Remember what was said about hallucinogenic drugs in the 70’s? “It’s all in your head”.Â Much of our fear is self-induced by our overactive imaginations. So…………………
1) Calm yourself (pause and breathe). Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 2) Step back and look at the reality of the situation for a moment. 3) When in control, respond with forethought, not emotional insane knee-jerk reaction especially if these patterns have been reinforced for so many years that they’ve become instinctive or reflexive.
SADNESS & SELF-PITY
You know your own sense of these feeling and probably have your own description, but most of us agree that self-pity and melancholy put us directly into the swirling vortex of the self-pity pot, and a downward spiraling flush is likely to follow.
How easily we used to give in to these feelings, even before our recovery, especially in the heavy drunk and stoned days. Remember? You’ve got it! “Might as well just give in and quit for depression is the High Point in such feelings, right”? The longer we let them propagate, the bigger the problem becomes and the farther down into the self-pity bowl we go.
At the First Sign: Put on the brakes! How do we get out of these useless self-destructive emotional behaviors? Once again we step back, process and breathe. How importantÂ – really – is this person, place, thing or situation that seems to be destroying our contentment and ruining any chance of joy? Aren’t we more often than not just blowing things out of proportion? My father told me that the surest way to end depression and melancholy was to do something like exercise or work; some small task to keep it from starting to take control of your destiny, even something miniscule like brushing your teeth. We use the opportunity to cultivate the critically important virtues of patience and tolerance and build small positives over the accumulated negatives to slowly rise out of it.
Listen to me, because I have had to tell myself so many times: There is NOTHING productive about anger. It is a state of insanity that begins as disappointment, confusion, irritation quickly evolving, becoming the most prolific of all insane emotional reactions. Anger can rapidly become psychotic rage and then the ultimate monstrosity of Frenzy, where we’re no longer in touch with a conscious grasp of our rationality. Anger doesn’t even do you any good in a fight. We all need to use the techniques we have talked about here today in controlling it. To keep it from developing into a wild reaction, we begin by practicing its conversion into a measured assertive response. We pause, step back, breathe, and gain control, remembering that vulgarity, blasphemy, shouting and rapid speech only incite our Id to its prehistoric animal-ism. It’ll take Patience, Tolerance and Practice – if you’re like me, years of it.
But like all of these negative emotional irrational reactions, it is possible to arrest and reverse our patterns. The Steps, Meditation, practice, perseverance and even prayer will eventually allow us to experience periods of positive response and control.
This month we’re studying Step 7 and it’s underlying trait: Humility. My definition is: knowing who and what we are and can be in applying our principles to our daily lives.
POOF! And just like that my anniversary is over and like all of you, I trudge ahead.
Reviewing these important spiritual principles has been good for my continuing recovery, helping it to become stronger and more resilient as the years go by.
I am certain there will be moments of pain and suffering ahead, but also contentment and joy. Like you, I am acquiring confidence that whatever comes my way, my recovery has taught me that I will be able to adapt to it.
When the wind blows againstthe tree, it bends it’s branches. So it is with us, we accommodate life, adapting, knowing that it is a mystery and that no-one is out to get us. Whatever ails us is more than likely the emotional specter of Fear, Self-Pity or Anger.
* Image courtesy of anankkml at FreeDigitalPhotos.net