December 7, 2011
On March 12th 2006 I had a choice to make. Live or die. I don’t say that to be dramatic, it’s just the way it was.
After two failed attempts at rehab, a failed marriage and lost job; life just didn’t seem worth living anymore. Anyone who has reached a painful bottom can relate I’m sure. The dreadful yet peaceful feeling that comes when we realized we’re just tired. And checking out all together seems logical, almost welcomed.
There’s no lonelier place then to be stuck in a mind which you can’t stand. With thoughts that won’t shut up about the failures of your past and fears of the future. The isolation had become complete.
I made a choice that day to live and try sobriety one more time. I’m glad I did.
Early in my recovery, my sponsor would take me everywhere. We’d do a lot of service work and anything relating to AA. One day we were at our local AA district office and were standing outside with an “old timer” that worked there. He looked off into the distance and said, “Sobriety is all about being OK with yourself.”
I really didn’t understand at the time, I thought I was OK with myself. But as I started working more through the steps, I realized that wasn’t the case.
The truth is I had no idea how to be happy with whom I was; happiness with self was not something I knew. I’d spent my entire life trying to please everyone else just to validate myself. A quote I heard years ago sums up this idea quite well for me:
All men’s miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone.
Working through the steps (for me) was all about being OK with who I was; accepting the consequences of being myself. Of course there’s more to it for me, like humility which comes through a relationship with a higher power.
Looking back, I feel empathy for the person I used to be—always in a hurry and constantly seeking approval from others. That’s not to say I don’t still seek approval, but I’m more aware of it. At the end of the day, my self-worth is measured by how I lived in line with what I believe to be God’s will, rather than how many people I made happy.
I refer to my past life sometimes as my $5 dollar life. I never put more than $5 worth of gas in my car at a time. Not so much for lack of funds, but because of time. I was always rushing around trying to get somewhere or do something. This mostly consisted of lying and being places or doing things I wasn’t supposed to be doing.
I vividly remember the first time I welcomed a chance to sit alone. I was meeting my sister at her house to help her move some things. She’s notoriously late and it used to bug the hell out of me. I think I had just finished working through step 7 at the time.
I show up to her house and of course she’s not there. I felt a little bit of anger rising but then something weird happened. I realized what a great opportunity this would be to sit on her porch swing, relax, and do a little prayer and meditation. Now that WAS a change in my thinking.
These days I welcome the opportunity to sit in a quiet room alone.