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A Pair of Ducks in Recovery: How Not To Kick Your Own Butt

Last night’s topic at our local meeting (in person) was fantastic and something, in all of my years, I’d rarely talked about since my first years; the notion that assuming everything that happens to us is our fault is not only counterproductive and counterintuitive, it can be classified as arrogant. This is the so-called ass kicking machine most new to recovery are so familiar with. I learned how to shut that down in my first couple of years and I never looked back so imagine my surprise when I read, “Where other people were concerned, we had to drop the word “blame” from our speech and thought”… then, …”I begin to realize that blaming myself for all the trouble in my life can be an ego trip back into hopelessness. Asking for help and listening deeply to the messages inherent in the Steps and Traditions of the program make it possible to change those attitudes which delay my recovery.”

The meeting that sprung from the Daily Reflections was one of the most dynamic and impressive I’ve ever been a part of. First, with just 28-years in recovery, I was one of the middle-agers. There were a couple of newer guys there, but for the most part there was some heavy hitting recovery in the room. I talked about my experience with the incorrect thinking that everything was my fault (there’s a very big difference between looking at our part in something and everything being the result of our mistakes) and the so-called ass kicking machine and how surprising the reading was to me because I always try to look at my specific part in something while leaving others to do their own inventory (it’s not easy and I tend to make missteps when I get into HALT situations – Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired). Here’s a passage that says we can take this too far, a point I hadn’t thought about in decades….

The others shared their experience and their difficulty with grappling with the subject because looking at our own part in any given situation, AKA keeping our side of the street clean, is what all of the winners in recovery do. We’re not used to looking at how that rule is abused.

If you knew what to look for, each and every person in the meeting with more than two years worked the third through eleventh at what the passage meant to them. It was something to behold – you don’t see that too often, where everyone in a meeting contributes real experience in literally walking through how they work the Steps in their daily lives, naturally when something confounds them, in a meeting.

For the guy I sponsor, I didn’t expect him to see it for the miracle it was as he’s too new, so I unfolded the origami for him.

Anyway, I hope I did what happened some justice (without breaking any Traditions). I can tell you, there’s nothing better than being able to really get into the nuts and bolts of recovery with a diverse bunch of friends.

An Awesome, Easy Weekend on the Bike and a New Goal or Two for Recovery

This past weekend was my favorite kind of weekend. Bike rides, tinkering on bikes, a few chores, cleaning up the bikes after rides, and watching some football.

It was awesome.

It’s a short week this week with the Christmas Holiday followed by a bunch of days off. This year had a lot of suck to it but as time off goes, I’ve never had it so good. Ever.

On tap for the remainder of the year, I’m thinking about shaking up my recovery a little bit. Maybe do some tinkering on that – or at least pay more attention to the tinkering I’m doing. Recovery has become such an engrained way of life, I really don’t think much about it, I just naturally do it reflexively. This is a good thing, of course, but I’m thinking I want to be a little more cognizant of what’s going on. Rather than let it happen, I think maybe I want to practice recovery (if that makes sense). I’ve also got a new sponsee who, like many, has reached that point where he has to start actively working the program or he’ll be out in the madness before long.

He’s at that horrific place where you’ve done all your growth possible with the first three steps, but the fourth and fifth are either too scary or too much like real work to proceed.

I can relate, having been there myself. Really, when you think about it, I’m there now in a manner of thinking. The only difference between my sponsee and I is that I know what’s on the other side of that work and it’s all good so I’m looking forward to not only doing the work, but the perks that come with that work.

This is one of those times where I wish I could take my experience and cram it into his melon so he’d be able to know why we work at this. On the other hand, if it was that simple, he would have the knowledge but not the experience. For me, the leap of going from three to four and five changed my recovery forever. We should all be so lucky to experience the epiphany for ourselves.

I am grateful for where I am today. That’ll do.

A Little Note on Self-Forgiveness… Not So Fast, There Sparky.

The first time I ever heard someone share the concept of forgiving oneself as a part of the recovery process, I bought into it but it never “sat well” with me.  I outgrew that phase of my recovery and never really looked back, until just yesterday I got an email from someone very close reminding me, “forgiveness is a gift you give yourself”.

And just like that, I put two and two together after all that time.  I finally understand why it never sat well with me.  Forgiveness is a gift I give myself”?!  Forgiveness is a gift I give someone else, sure, but myself?  Let’s turn that on its head for a second.

As practicing alcoholics we wreak a lot of havoc.  We are tornadoes through the lives of others.  Anyone who believes otherwise is ignorant or mistaken, or both.  We have a lot to atone for as we enter recovery.  As a part of the “clearing up the wreckage of our past” phase of recovery, we set about doing exactly that.  The more we hesitate, the more painful the process, the closer we come to having that next drink.  Better, in my experience, to rip that band-aid off than beat around the bush.

I hesitated.  I dawdled.  I hid behind fear of the sharing my past with another.  I hid because I had no idea how free I would feel once I was rid of that trainload of shit I’d been hauling behind me… right up until I didn’t dawdle anymore.  Once I started unhitching the cars by performing the amends part of recovery, I went from crawl, to walk, to run, to rocket ship almost immediately.

Just sharing my past with someone else helped me to see over the pile I’d left behind me.  Once I’d laid that out, becoming willing to be relieved of my shortcomings was almost instant.  The amends process was a natural step and with each act, another car was loosed.  I emerged from the amends process a free man.

Forgiving myself was no longer necessary because I did what was right.  Forgiving myself naturally comes with sweeping up the street I littered with my $#!+.  Therein lies the rub.

And that’s why that phrase never sat well with me.  I didn’t have the experience or understanding to think through it back then, but here’s the nuts and bolts:  If I haven’t cleaned up my wreckage, I have no business forgiving myself for anything.  Sure, I can relax on the ass-kicking machine as I work through the process, but self-forgiveness comes only with cleaning up my mess and forgiving others.  It’s what happens last, not first.

Just a thought.  Recover hard, my friends.  I know I’ve got another drunk in me.  What scares me straight is, I don’t know if I’ve got another recovery.