Creating a New You!

I look back over my time in recovery and I can see that I’ve changed. I am not the same person, thankfully, that walked into a meeting room seven years ago. If I continue to follow the program, then I will be a different person in another seven years. If I want to grow I have to change. If I am going to change I have to be willing to let go of the old me and trust my Higher Power’s plan for the new me.

“Every next level of your life will require a different you.”  Leonardo Dicaprio

This, for me, is the essence of Steps Six and Seven. A willingness to let go of character traits that made me and an acceptance of who I am becoming. It is taking the next step toward life and embracing changes. Everyone in recovery can look back at their lives and be amazed at how they have changed. This change can continue if we allow it but it means a continued willingness to let go of who I am. If a ship changes course only one degree, it won’t be far off its original course the next day. But as time goes on, that course it is further and further from where if might have otherwise been.

When I arrive at a meeting room, I was on course for cell, a sanitorium or cemetery. I know that because I saw it happen to others around me. I know that I am no different than they were, except that I made the slight course correction.  Seven years later I am far away from the iceberg I was heading toward.  And, as a result, I am a different person from who I would otherwise be.

The changes and course corrections are still happening as a result of the program. I am enjoying my journey and I am continuing to change. As I continue to live the program of the Twelve Steps, I am continuing to grow and correct my course. I like who I am today. I like the changes that I have experienced in recovery. However, I want to continue to grow and to do that I have to let go of who I was yesterday to be a new person today.  Letting go of the old me isn’t easy. It means expanding my comfort zone yet again.

The results of who I will become in the next iteration of me can be just as dramatic as the change between who I was seven years ago and today. I trust the process and so I look forward to whatever might come my way.

Step aside Tim, there’s a new you working its way down the production line!

Gratitude in Action

“Self-made is an illusion. There are many people who played divine roles in you having the life that you have today. Be sure to let them know how grateful you are.”  Michael Fishman

In Step 8 and 9 of our program of recovery we make a list of those we have harmed, became willing to make amends for what we had done and then gone out to contact them to make amends. I clean up my side of the street, take ownership of my past and stop the blame game. It’s an integral part of our healing process and living the program of recovery.

My suggestion for today is to go one step further in recovery: make a list of all those who played significant roles in the life I have today and make a direct act of gratitude. I am who I am today because of the role models I have had throughout my life. My parents, especially my mom who is still an amazing example to me of strength of character and faith, helped to shape me into the person I am today. Yes, I did a Step Nine with mom because I had not been the son I should have been and today I live my amends to her, working toward faith and character. And I am grateful for the love and assistance I received even when I wasn’t anywhere near being worthy of it.

I am grateful to my brother and sisters as well. Each has given me lessons in living and I know will always be a support when I need it. I am grateful to my ex partners who have shown me love and affection. I am grateful to those who have sponsored me over the years in my recovery. They showed me by word and deed how I need to work my program. I am grateful to my sponsees who have continue to astound and challenge me to be a better person.

I am who I am today because of those others around me who stood by me. My success in life is as a result of all the wonderful assistance and examples of those around me. I am not a “self made man”. It takes a community to raise a child and a community to mentor its adults. There are many in my life who have played a ‘divine’ role in creating who I am today. And I am grateful to them.

My challenge is to spread the gratitude.  Let someone who helped you know how much you appreciate their support. Let them know what they did for you and how it helped you. Let them know that they helped to create the person you are today and that you are grateful for their assistance. I guarantee it will make someone’s day if you do it.

I am who I am and where I am today because I stand on the shoulders of those who lifted me up and continue to support me. I am grateful to my community.

Do It

I took a slice off the end of my thumb the other day.  Nothing serious, just the top layer of skin peeled back. I still do some work with wood and this is something that happens every once in a while. Yesterday there was teeny piece of dry skin that was still attached to my thumb and was driving my crazy.  Every time I moved or did something something caught onto that little, smaller than the head of a pin, piece of dry skin. It didn’t hurt, but I was always aware of its presence. But I was doing some painting when it happened or I was doing some cleaning but for several hours I it was there reminding me of what I needed to do. Finally I got the nail clippers and cut it off. It will still be a week or so before everything heals back.

A teeny tab of dead skin kept reminding me that I needed to do something until I made it a priority and got it done. I was reminded of those things in life that niggle and gnaw at us until we finally do them. Doing them is nothing. It takes no time at all to accomplish a small task, yet I seem to put it off because I am sure that what I am doing right now is more important. Big things, sure, I know they take priority. I have gone to the emergency ward more than enough times for stitches on cuts as a result of my ‘handiwork’. When something big happens in life we usually recognize we need to look after it right away. It’s when it’s small and seemingly insignificant that we let it slide. Let those small insignificant things slide and they seem to add up until we actually do something about them.

In recovery I have seen people live through death and divorce without a relapse; their friends gather around and they receive the support they need to make it through. It is the small little incidentals that add up to a relapse. Missing meetings, not taking to sponsors, not having time for a little prayer or meditation, allowing a resentment to grow. Each little thing, on its own, isn’t much, but they add up. I could resolve them in two minutes or less, but I don’t take the time until it’s driving me completely crazy. When I am in that state, I usually know it, but for some reason the little bit of effort needed for such a small task can be put off for now…then it’s too late.

I read this morning that it’s easier to give 100% to something than to give 98% to it. The point is that when I am fully committed to something, I can stick with it, I have resolve and my decision is final. However, if I am only 98% committed to it, then I have to judge if this is a situation when I have to stick with my commitment or does this fall into that 2% where there is some flexibility.

I know for myself, when I break with 100% commitment it is far easier the next time to give in the next time. About six months ago I committed to not eating food that contain refined sugar. Initially, I was very good at sticking to my decision. But then I had to have a taste, a bit or sliver. Now it’s so much easier to slip or cheat on my commitment not to eat refined sugar. If I had stuck to it a 100% there would be no question, no option or choice. Now there is because I don’t eat refined sugar 98% of the time. And from experience I know that the 2% has a chance to grow to 4% then 7%. You get the picture.

With my addiction I know I have to be 100% committed to it if I want to stay happy, joyous and free in recovery. However, remember that little tab of skin? That can create an opening for the 2% of non-commitment. I have to do the little things to add up to the big thing. Taking care of the details helps to maintain the complete picture. If you’ve let things slip, recommit yourself to 100%. Get back to meetings, talk to your sponsor, connect with your Higher Power. It will be much easier when your back on the road of 100%.