I’ve often asked myself and been asked: “What is the right decision to make here? What do I do?” Since I have been in recovery I know, in some cases, what the right decision is for me. I opt for whatever will keep me happy joyous and free in recovery. That’s an easy decision for me. But there are so many other decisions that can be made and which are just as life changing and not as easy to make. Because, let’s face it, important decisions change the path of our life.
Where am I going live? What is the next step in my career? Is this the person I want to have a relationship with? Do I get a dog? Buy a new car? Is this the right time to take a vacation? Do I do a home renovation or do I move? Should I try this new thing? Is this the daily routine I want to continue with? Am I okay with myself or do I start a diet plan? Do I join a gym or go it alone? What is the next step I am to take in my journey?????
I have come to learn that there is no right answer, nor is there a wrong answer. Wherever I go, there I am. Whatever I do, that’s what I’m doing. Sometimes I’ve made a snap decision and it works out well. Other times I have dwelt on the decision and things didn’t go as I expected them to go. And I am learning that there is no perfect answer. It’s not where we are that seems to matter. It’s that we’re moving and not static. It really is the journey we take, not where we end up. Some of the stops along that journey can be great and others I would have prefered to have passed through without a glance out the window.
There are a few things that do ensure that the decisions I make are more to my liking. I can talk to a trusted friend, mentor or sponsor before making the decision. I can meditate on it and ask for spiritual guidance from my Higher Power as I understand it. I can do a list of pros and cons. I like to do the rocking chair test: years from now if I’m sitting on the porch in my rocking chair is this something that is going to matter to me? Will I regret having taken or not taken that path? As time goes on in the process it becomes easier to know, at a gut level, if this is the right decision for me now.
Every decision, every choice will alter where I am going in life. And that’s okay. There isn’t a wrong place to be, only experiences to gather. Trust the process of life, remembering that I will make it through whatever happens, until I don’t.
Enjoy the moment and take the next step, whatever it might be.
I’m discovering that my ‘self’ is a balloon and my ‘ego’ is the air in the balloon. I must constantly monitor the amount of air that I hold in my self. If I haven’t enough, I will lose my shape and be a wrinkled blob with no substance. Who wants a limp balloon? If I inflate it too much, then I can also deform it from the original shape and risk losing my ‘self’ in a terrific explosion. The trick is finding the balance that is right for me: just enough air to keep my shape. I think that when I find that point of equilibrium I discover humility.
Whenever I run into problems, my character defects shoot the surface or I find myself on an emotional rollercoaster, I’m also discovering that it has ego at its source. I’m discovering that my ego is either underinflated or way over inflated. and I need to get it back in balance. I am who I am: no more and no less. That balance of who I am is difficult to maintain. Like a scale, it only takes a grain of sand to cause it to tip one way or the other. So I need to be constantly maintaining the balance of ego within myself.
Years ago I could solve the problems of the world all from the regal perch of a bar stool. Of course, nothing happened because I did nothing. I was an ego full of hot air. Life isn’t handed to us on the proverbial silver platter. We have to go out and make it. I was reminded this week that our Higher Power does for us that which we cannot do for ourselves. However, if we can do it ourselves, then it’s up to us to do it. (Thank you Terry) And there are a lot of challenges in this world that I am up to resolving if I get off my butt and do the work rather than pontificate and expect the results to magically appear.
For me, it’s all part of knowing my ‘self’ and keeping my ego in check. I may not be able to move mountains with the wave of my hand, but I can still bring along a wheelbarrow and shovel. There are some things I can do to make my life, rather than waiting around for something to happen then complain when it doesn’t. I can’t do it all, but I can do my part. I don’t always get it right, but I don’t always get it wrong either and sometimes, I find the sweet spot of just the right amount of air in my balloon.
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!