Don’t Leave it to Chance

“Choice, not chance, determines one’s destiny.” Author Unknown

I came across this quote in one of the recovery web pages that I follow. For many years I would have said it was chance that determines my fate in life. I would have said you’re dealt the cards your dealt and you just have to make the best of it. I didn’t really bother, let alone believe in setting goals because life is going to steer you to go through the rapids or the waterfalls whether you like it or not. Some people are winners because that’s how the universe wants it for them and others, well, you know, karma can be a real downer.

I’ve come to look at things differently now.

I see that in the short term, for example, when I am feeling depressed or down, I can sit and wallow in my self pity and sadness. Or I can do something about it. I can go for a walk, go to the gym, talk to someone. Yes, I have to accept it, but I know that I have a choice to stay in my depression or act. The exercise or a phone call are action and action is what is needed. I make a choice and act.

When I was in the bitter morass of my disease, I knew I was harming myself and that I couldn’t get out of this alone. I accepted that. Once I stopped fighting, I was able ask for help. The assistance of others, my Higher Power along with my own determination helped to raise me out of a pit of my own making. Continued work on myself with the help of my Higher Power and my friends in recovery help to ensure that I stay this way. Had I really believed in fate, I probably wouldn’t be here any more to write about it. My recovery is not the result of the flip of a coin. It is the result of my choosing to move forward and co-create this new me with the help of my Higher Power.

I continue to choose to work with my Higher Power to re-create a new me. I am not the same person as I was when I came to the program. Ask those who knew me then. They’ll tell you.  I know that I have made big changes in my life and I know that my choices and my efforts have done a great deal to ensure that I did, in fact, change. I continue to change. I am not content to let the status quo remain as it is. I believe that my destiny is to ask, learn, grow and share as I make my way down the river.

“I may not command the wind, but I can direct my sails.”

This applies to all aspects of life. Things happen. I can’t control other people, places or things. But I do have a choice: I can do nothing and things will stay the same, or I can make a change and shift where I am going in life. And yes, it is a great responsibility. I can no longer blame my family, where I live, my friends for me state. Part of becoming an adult it taking responsibility for the decisions, or failing to take them in the past. I do have control.

Grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change.

The courage the change the people I can.

And the wisdom to know it’s me.

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Photo by slon_dot_pics on Pexels.com

A Break in Routine

For many of us, the holiday season is a very trying and tempting time. It’s a time when we get together with a lot of others: family, friends, perhaps strangers. There are a lot of parties to go to and things that one simply ‘must’ do. It can all be very overwhelming.

A lot of the stress comes from the extra people around. We are creatures of habit and we like things to remain the same, but with others around, our flow is interrupted. It causes us to think and react differently than if we didn’t have all of those people around us. In situations out of our routine, it is easy to fall back on only patterns and habits. This is especially true of family. We have years of practice at pushing each others’ buttons.

We can survive the stress of this time of year by concentrating on the things that we can control. As much as is possible, stick to your regular routine. There is nothing wrong with scheduling your day to include time for yourself and your sanity. Keep going to as many meetings as you usually go to, or more if possible. This will keep you fresh and on point in your program of recovery. You need not justify your attendance. It’s what you need. If they don’t understand, it’s not up to you to explain.

Keep up your practice of meditation. Having others around the house may cramp your style. Perhaps someone is sleeping in the room where you usually meditate. Maybe there is more noise in the house than you are used to.  Take the dog for a walk, go to the corner store for something, and when you’re out of the house, take time to be quiet and get in contact with your Higher Power for a moment or two. Get up earlier if you don’t see that you have any other time. It matters not how or where you do it, but do it.

So many parties are concentrated around this time of year and it’s expected that we attend. I’ve discovered that a call ahead, asking the host if there’s something we can do to help them set up is very appreciated. Remember they could are also stressed. The ‘arrive early and leave early’ recommendation is very good advice: there are often a lot of temptations at seasonal parties. You don’t have anything to prove to anyone. You don’t need to put yourself to the test. No one has ever blamed me for leaving early and once I am gone, I know that no one will miss me either. And more often than not, I am told the next day that I was very wise to leave when I did.

Keep that routine in your life as much as possible. Keep your balance. If you have to, break the time down into increments. Give your sponsor or other program members a call. They are probably going through similar situations and could use the distraction as well. You will get through this stressful situation. Know that this situation is temporary. If this is your first time going through this in recovery, know that you will get through it and you are not alone. We all have to make our own unique plans for keeping it all together during a change in routine. Soon January will be here, the decorations will come down and your routine will get back to normal.

Happy Holidays!

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Feelings

“The great part about recovery is that you can feel again. The lousy part of recovery is that you can feel again.” 

My goal, when I was still in my disease, was to numb the feelings that flowed through my head. I wanted to escape how I felt about myself, about others and about situations. I couldn’t deal with how I was feeling so I tried to eliminate them completely. Loneliness, depression, fear, anger and resentment were some of the stronger feelings I felt more or less at any time and often in a combination of two or three. I had only one way to deal with them, and near the end, even that didn’t work. I didn’t know how to live with them. I guess I missed that course in life: Dealing with Feelings.

For the first three or four months in recovery I was on the proverbial ‘pink cloud’ where everything was wonderful. Then it hit me. I had started to work on Step Four and I was realizing all of my defects of character. As the saying goes, a sober horse thief is still a horse thief. I might have been in recovery, but I was now a ball of emotions and feelings that I had to learn to manage. I had begun to feel again. I remember going on a bit too long at one meeting. Afterward, another member asked me it I had a sponsor. “Of course I do!” I replied somewhat proudly. “Maybe you should use him,” suggested the member.

It was in the heart to heart discussions with my sponsor that I first started to learn that to deal with feelings I first had to accept them. Using examples of his own life, he showed me how he worked through those strong feelings in early recovery, just as I was doing: by working with his sponsor, by talking about them and by discovering their source, the ‘exact nature’ of those feelings. Why was I angry? Who or what was I angry at? Was there threat to me? What can I do to diminish my feelings of anger? I learned how to do the same with other feelings as well.

Analysing my feelings helped to diminish their strength and power. I learned that I needed to acknowledge what I was feeling and where it was taking me. I didn’t have to allow the feeling to take me into depression or loneliness, anger or fear. I had a choice. My feelings didn’t have to dictate my reaction. If I was lonely, I could go meet a friend or pick up the phone and call someone.  I  didn’t have to wallow in loneliness, allowing it to spiral me downward into deeper and deeper sadness. Often I would just get on my motorcycle and drive and drive and say the Serenity Prayer over and over until I felt peace replacing the strong feelings that threatened my recovery.

My life is manageable today and I lived more in tranquility than chaos. The frequency of those strong feelings is diminished. Strong feelings still do come up but not as often and I know that I can’t avoid them. I have to deal with them. It’s my choice when I do so, but sooner rather than later works for me and frees me to enjoy my life and not be burdened by it. I am grateful.