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Home » Cycling » It’s Not The Big Things That Will Wreck Recovery, It’s The Little Drip, Drip, Drip That’ll Bring On The Deluge

It’s Not The Big Things That Will Wreck Recovery, It’s The Little Drip, Drip, Drip That’ll Bring On The Deluge

October 2021
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This is one of those funny times where recovery intersects with cycling. Generally speaking, I get through the big things in life pretty easy. For instance, our well went out over the weekend. The only thing that survived was the well pipe – and that’s a good thing, because that’s half the cost of a well. Unfortunately, most everything else was bad. New pump, new tank, new plumbing, new electrical… folks, it was a big check I had to write Monday afternoon.

Sadly, Brent, I am thankful I hadn’t bought a couple of fat bikes…

Because the good news is, I could write the check and be done with it. Not only that, I still have a reserve left. In a few months of frugality, we should be right as rain again. No financing, no credit card debt, no having to get a loan to cover the cost… we just have to live a little more wisely through the winter and things should be right back to normal, no big deal. It was a big deal, though.

On the other hand…

Last evening, I’m out riding with my buddy, Chuck. We don’t have many nice evenings left and it’s getting dark pretty quick, nowadays. We’re going to be on the gravel bikes with lights and reflective gear shortly, so we want to make the best of what we’ve got. I chose to wear a cycling cap under my helmet, a rarity now that I’ve got a Bontrager Specter helmet. I don’t have to worry about bees getting through the wavecell part of the helmet in one piece, so I normally don’t wear a cycling cap under that helmet. I do have to worry about the cold, though. And it wasn’t great out. A damp, gloomy, 67 degrees that felt like 55… I was in arm sun covers and my cycling cap in addition to my normal kit. Just fine for an easy cruise.

Well, we picked up the pace on the way home, though – mainly my fault – and I started sweating. With three miles to go, I was up front and hammering down the road into the wind at near 21-mph and all of a sudden, my cap hits full saturation. A drip hits my right eye. Then another. Then like a leaky faucet, drip, drip, drip, drip… at the speed we were going and my choice of glasses, the little drips I never have to worry about were hitting me dead in the eye.

In the space of a minute, I was about eight seconds away from hucking my $150 helmet into the ditch in a huff. I went from mild-mannered, just happy to be on a ride, to full-on, “motherf***er” in a half-mile. I squeezed the sweat out of my helmet pads and took the full mess right in the face… and it was done. I wiped my face off with my sleeve and calmed down.

Now, it’s likely a combination of having my well go bad, in conjunction with not knowing that I could have saved a grand or more if I’d have known our tank was bad, but that was a little beyond my pay grade… but it was that little drip of sweat from my helmet that completely raged me out.

There is a simple recovery explanation for this phenomenon: when those big things hit, the program kicks in. Am I working my steps? What do I need to look at? Where am I in my spiritual foundation right now? Do I have any amends to make? We do this reflexively and immediately as we grow in the recovery way of life. This protects us from the trauma of tough things happening in life.

But those little things can build up in a hurry because they’re “just little things” that don’t require a four-alarm “bring out the twelve steps” reaction. Pretty soon, all of that little crap adds up to rage and, if we’re not careful, we do something stupid… or worse, go straight to “I want a freaking drink”.

Fortunately for me, Wednesday is a meeting night and I got to bring all of this up – it even related to another fella who spoke before I did. In the end, I used my experience (strength and hope), in my normal self-depricating way, to show how it works for me… and how it doesn’t.

Today I thank God for the little things. They’re an excellent reminder of just how fragile sobriety can be. And that I’ve still got a lot of work to do.

And so I shall. Recover hard, my friends. You may not get another chance to come back.


6 Comments

  1. Brent says:

    Thanks for the shout out. All things considered, it’s probably a good choice to opt for being able to continue living in your house instead of splurging on a couple of fat bikes. I’ll post updates over the winter to let you know what you’re missing, though…

    Also, I like what you have to say about how the little things worming their way slowly into your head is stuff that can lead to problems with one’s program. Your deflector shields are good at handling the big stuff so you think you’re ok, and then you discover the small stuff that sneaks slowly around the edge of the deflector shields grows and really kills you. I know that situation.

    But here’s another way to look at it: in life, when you’re trying to fix something complicated, like, say, building a new spaceship, you find and fix the easiest problems first. By definition, the problems that remain are hard to find and hard to fix. Recovery is a complex process, and you find and fix the easy problems first. So it’s entirely predictable that you’d have no problem with the well because that’s an easy trigger situation to detect and it’s easy to learn that you immediately talk to your sponsor, go to meetings, etc. But the minor annoyance with your helmet would go wall-to-wall to make you crazy. It’s something that you might think you can handle yourself, because the trigger seems so trivial, but the mechanism in your head is much more complex, so you get caught in the trap of underestimating what turns out to be a complex problem.

  2. Dave Talsma says:

    Thats funny, I’ve had some pretty bad tantrums over silly things, and its taken most of my life to control them.

  3. Sue Slaght says:

    This makes a lot of sense Jim. Like an emotional gas tank that gets drained by challenging situations. At some point just not enough gas to deal with minor things. Your insight inspiring as always.

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