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A goal I can never attain… the context in which that’s attractive in recovery…


April 2022

In one of the video lectures I watched last week, Jordan Peterson recommended setting a goal in life that wasn’t quiet achievable – something lofty, worth shooting for, even if you can always do a little better. It didn’t take me long to understand what mine is and has been for some time. I don’t just want to be good at working the twelve steps of recovery, I want to be a master of it – which would be an excellent example. It’s on the attainable side but one can always do a little better.

That’s not mine, though. My goal, while it relies on being the best I can be at working the steps in any given situation, goes one step further.

Anyone who’s achieved even mediocre long-term success in the program can look back on where they came from should see a stark, amazing improvement in their quality of life. If not, why bother?! If, however, you’ve really given it a solid go of it, you’re likely to find that, without being egotistical about it, a small miracle has happened and you’ve gone from sheer misery to actual, real, verifiable happiness. And that’s where my unachievable goal comes in.

I want to see just how happy I can be with the gift I’ve been given.

Of course, and this should go without saying, I can’t be arrogant or overly optimistic about anything. I must always maintain a certain level of “the whole thing could fall apart any minute” angst, call it fealty to the demon of relapse who can snatch everything I’ve worked for in one careless second… I wouldn’t want newer people in recovery to get the wrong impression that, you know, you actually have to make a series of controllable gaffes over weeks, if not months, in order to fall off the wagon when you’re sitting firmly in the middle of it just because said wagon rolls over a bump. To quote an old sponsor, un-arrogantly, “I’ve never heard of anyone relapsing whilst (and at the same time) rigorously working one of the steps.” I’ve never even heard of someone relapsing like that in all of my 29 years.

With that out of the way (hopefully properly articulated the humor inherent in what I attempting to convey) and in all seriousness, I think the search for the greatest happiness in recovery possible is a noble goal. Especially for sharing one’s experience, strength and hope.

More on this later.

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