I’ve had construction happening at my home for the last seven weeks. Initially it was a washroom addition that would take three weeks, but that stretched out to five weeks and then the porch columns and railings needed to be replaced, water seepage in another apartment needed to dealt with and part of a deck was rebuilt due to termite damage. Now the eave troughs on one side of the house and part of the soffit are being looked after. Meanwhile, I’m handling the things I can like the painting and cleaning. I’m sure Marvin could find other work to keep extending his stay here but it has to end this week: my coffers are empty.
I am very pleased with the changes around here, but they are taking their toll on my lower back, my arms and my nerves. I really don’t like disorder, things out of place, tools everywhere, rubbish building up and dust, lots and lots of dust. But that is all part of it. Barring going on vacation and hoping for the best, you have to live with the disorder in order for the order to return. And you have to trust the process which includes the turmoil while these changes are happening around you, realizing that it is only temporary. Once it’s all over, thing will get back to order, things will be renewed, and the discomfort of the process will be a distant memory.
Every boatman has to stop and repair the raft once in a while. The river takes it toll and it’s not always a smooth float down the river. But once the repairs are complete, the journey continues. It’s important for us to stop once in a while and take stock of where we are on our path and course correction. Perhaps an afternoon of reflection. Maybe a weekend retreat. We need to know where we are in order to chart our course to where we want to go. It’s all part of the process.
In a month or so, I’ll forget the aching back and the accumulated dust of construction. Having my own bathroom will be a desire realized and will become part of my everyday experience. The house will benefit from the repairs and upgrades and I will be able to appreciate the process of achieving order through disorder.
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!
“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.