There is something extremely satisfying to me when I look out the window first thing in the morning after a new snow and see the perfectly clean state of the world. No dog prints, no dirty sand sprays from recent plows, no half melted snow forts. It’s just pure, un-touched perfection! I feel this way often when I know I am starting a new day and living an authentic life to the best of my ability. I don’t get perfection like that crisp morning snow, but I do get a clean and un-touched slate every day! And I do get to take advantage of that fresh slate to practice living in my truth.
It’s Tuesday afternoon at The Retreat, and it’s cold. Right now it is 6 degrees below zero. The forecast for tonight is 26 below. Tomorrow’s forecast is 15 below in the daytime and 29 below at night. The all-time low was 32 below, set on the evening of February 3, 1996.
As we enter into yet another new year, it’s hard not to look back at what has taken place over 2018. But for me, it’s even harder not to look forward with plans and questions of uncertainty for the year to come. I try to live one day at a time as best I can, but reflecting on a new calendar has me “what if”-ing in wonder and veering off the track of living for today. Some of the wonder is exciting. But honestly, some of the wonder is scary. The un-played days of 2019 haven’t even started yet and my mind wants to prepare for them. Truth be told, I tend to lean into fear. Maybe rightly so, I have a past riddled with pain and hurt. Everyone does. It’s not fun. And my ego wants to avoid painful stuff and control its very existence. The problem is…I don’t get to!! But hey, check this out…I also have a past riddled with joy and triumph! Life comes with both! And isn’t this really just a question of practicing the choice to focus on the joy over the pain anyways? Isn’t it just a practice in letting go and acceptance? A practice of choosing faith over fear? I think so! Its 3rd step genius!! “Gods will not mine” is the brilliance of realizing we get to choose faith over fear. I have that choice each and every day in each and every situation.
Life is hard sometimes. When I entered the world of life in recovery, I thought it was about just not using and redeeming what I thought was my horrible, weak character. Years later, I now know that it is much more. Life, whether through addiction recovery or any other adversity, is about reaching a chapter of spiritual growth. So here’s the hard truth! Spiritual growth does not blossom through the easy, peasy moments. It is birthed through adversity and hardship. And nobody escapes life without adversity and hardship! Here’s the thing…life and people and circumstances are not out to get you, they are out to grow you!
Watching someone you love struggle with addiction or alcoholism is extremely painful. I often liken it to watching someone dig a deep hole.
At many AA meetings, somewhere in the program, a person asks “Could we have a moment of silence for the alcoholic who still suffers?” We are briefly quiet, perhaps thinking of someone we know whose suffering is all too clear to us. I also think of those whose suffering is over because they lost their lives in a struggle with alcohol or drugs.
“With dignity we will stand for ourselves, but not against our fellows.”
-“From Survival to Recovery”
At age 19, I had all the evidence I needed that I was an alcoholic. On one terribly cold, windy, January day, I was kicked out of college. That event made me homeless. I was standing in front of the dormitory that used to be my home, almost broke. I had sixty-nine cents in total assets, all in coins in my pocket. I had nowhere to go. I was drunk, even though it was still morning. I was so drunk that I couldn’t stop peeing my pants, and the frozen pee was sticking to my legs.
At The Retreat, I am talking with a lot of alcoholics who also are addicted to Adderall. They have had the impression that Adderall is either not addictive, or harmless, and are surprised to be having problems with it. Adderall is a mixture of two types of amphetamine and two types of dextroamphetamine, and so it is basically an amphetamine. It is an addictive drug. It is classified as a controlled dangerous substance on schedule II.
I was recently speaking with a very impulsive Retreat guest who had difficulty maintaining a focus on one thing for very long. I was not surprised that his drug of choice was meth, because at the beginning of his meth use it actually calmed him down. At The Retreat we do Big Book studies that are two hours long at a time, and this was tough for him. He told me “I need something short and simple, that can work for me.”