After I got my new two month chip at last night’s meeting–I did the thing again where I traded in last year’s old one for a shiny new one–I left the meeting room to use the bathroom. (Thank you, Topamax, for no control over my bladder due to all the fluids I drink.) As I was walking back towards the meeting room on the lower level of the hospital, a bald-headed cancer patient was walking with her IV drip cart and she smiled at me. I smiled back and got tears in my eyes. The meeting went on and I didn’t plan on sharing. Finally, what I assumed to be the last person shared (she was sitting right next to me), and our leader said we had time for one last person to share if they could keep it very brief. I spoke up and said the following:
“I’m Brian and I’m an alcoholic. For anyone who doesn’t know, I came to these meetings last year and didn’t take them seriously. Well, that’s an understatement. Anyway, that’s why I’ve been turning in my old chips for new ones. I bought ‘The Big Book’ last year and read it all the way through, but I drug my ass in here late for the one meeting a week that I begrudgingly made it to, and I refused to get a sponsor. Now I have the greatest sponsor in the world–thank you, Matt–and, well, I’m just so glad to be here. Thanks.”
So much has happened in not only the last two months, but in the last week. But all of it’s been positive, and all of it’s been changes precipated by things which–while seemingly out of my control–I know for a fact are completely within God’s control. And knowing that and being at peace with that is–let me tell you–being in a completely, utterly different place than where I was a short 60 days ago. Not that I don’t still have panic attack-ish moments…I was telling my sponsor yesterday that I couldn’t find something I was looking for when I was fixing to leave the house to meet him, and I was so worried about being late for our session that I just nearly started crying. I popped a Topamax (instead of a drink, which–let’s be honest, is what I really wanted), found what I was looking for, and still made it to the session on time. So no, my life is by no means all unicorns and roses. But no one’s is. The joy of living is finding those moments in-between the hard stuff, savouring them, and being thankful for them. God never promised us a problem-free life. We somehow wished or imagined that up in our head, or at least this guy did. But He did promise us that He’d be there with us every step of the way if we’d trust Him and let Him do what He’s always promised to do from the start. All that being said–and this coming from someone who’s made a plethora of poor decisions–it’s so much easier said than done to let “Jesus Take the Wheel,” as Carrie Underwood sang.
I wanted to share a few quotes I’ve been
hoarding saving up that have really been helping me along, so I think I’ll just “spill it,” as Thelma Harper once recorded on her outgoing answering machine message on ‘Mama’s Family’. Here they are, in no particular order:
“Breathe. You’re going to be okay. Breathe and remember that you’ve been in this place before. You’ve been this uncomfortable and anxious and scared, and you’ve survived. Breathe and know that you can survive this too. These feelings can’t break you. They’re painful and debilitating, but you can sit with them and eventually, they will pass. Maybe not immediately, but sometime soon, they are going to fade and when they do, you’ll look back at this moment and laugh for having doubted your resilience. I know it feels unbearable right now, but keep breathing, again and again. This will pass. I promise it will pass.”–Daniell Koepke
Carve Out Un-distraction Time. When are you going to do your most important work? Schedule it with a block of time (1 hour, 2 hours, 4 hours, whatever works for you). Make this your most sacred appointment. Become incommunicado. Close the Internet, all notifications, hold all calls. Just do the most important task, then the next one if you have time. Slow Down. We rush through our days, almost in a single frenetic anxiety-filled non-stop movement. Instead, slow down. Life won’t collapse if you aren’t rushing from task to task, e-mail to e-mail. You can pause, take a moment to reflect, smile, enjoy the current task before moving on. Mindfully Single-task. Stop multi-tasking. One task at a time, with full focus on that task. Practice mindfulness as you do the task — it’s a form of meditation. Watch your thoughts wander to what you need to do later, but then return to the task at hand. Your day will be much simpler, and much more enjoyable, when you practice being present with your current task.–Leo Babauta
“Do not resist events that move you out of your comfort zone, especially when your comfort zone was not all that comfortable.”–Alan Cohen
“What a lovely surprise to discover how un-lonely being alone can be.”–Ellen Burstyn (Might I just say how much I love this woman.)
“You can accept or reject the way you are treated by other people, but until you heal the wounds of your past, you will continue to bleed. You can bandage the bleeding with food, with alcohol, with drugs, with work, with cigarettes, with sex, but eventually, it will all ooze through and stain your life. You must find the strength to open the wounds, stick your hands inside, pull out the core of the pain that is holding you in your past, the memories, and make peace with them.”—Iyanla Vanzant, ‘Yesterday, I Cried’
“Have you ever analyzed things to the degree where you can’t really remember the difference between what’s real and what you’ve created in your head?”–Edie Sedgwick
“Some periods of our growth are so confusing that we don’t even recognize that growth is happening. We may feel hostile or angry or weepy and hysterical, or we may feel depressed. It would never occur to us, unless we stumbled on a book or a person who explained to us, that we were in fact in the process of change, of actually becoming larger, spiritually, than we were before. Whenever we grow, we tend to feel it, as a young seed must feel the weight and inertia of the earth as it seeks to break out of its shell on its way to becoming a plant. Often the feeling is anything but pleasant. But what is most unpleasant is the not knowing what is happening […] Those long periods when something inside ourselves seems to be waiting, holding its breath, unsure about what the next step should be, eventually become the periods we wait for, for it is in those periods that we realize that we are being prepared for the next phase of our life and that, in all probability, a new level of the personality is about to be revealed.”–Alice Walker
That last one by fellow Georgia native Alice Walker really got to me when I read it. I actually read it before the huge precipating change which took place late last week actually took place. But once that change happened and I was so at peace with it–and I handled the situation with such dignity and calm–unlike the old me, or even the me up until this very point in my life here on this earth has ever been capable of doing or has reacted to situations such as that–I realized that I was a-changin’. And I was telling my cousin on the phone last night that I’m certainly not patting myself on the back or tooting my own horn, because it’s not me that’s facilitating the change. And it’s not the Topamax; goodness knows the Dopamax isn’t changing me! It’s my Higher Power, or as I’d like to call Him, God. And to Him be the glory. I’m humbled beyond words, as I always am. He’s seen fit in all His mercy, and He’s known that this is the right time for me to finally be open to all this change. Change is scary and most of us resent it kicking and screaming. But this time I’m not. I’m absolutely not. I’m at God’s mercy and am willing to do whatever He sees fit for me to do. And being in this place, at this time, is right where I need to be. Nothing could possibly give me more peace of mind than that.
Well, I hope everyone has a magnificent 4th! We as a country have much to be thankful for. We’re a wondrously flawed nation, but we’re a United
nation. I, for one, am thankful every. single. day that I was born here. Although, I won’t lie, it would’ve been fun to’ve been born in the UK as well. But anyway, here’s to a great 4th!
Liberace stole my 4th of July outfit
BTW, I’ve not changed so much that I won’t illustrate the precipated change that took place late last week with a couple of GIFs. I still won’t get into the story because the end result is that life goes on and we’ll both be the better for it, but needless to say I had a very heated phone/e-mail/texting conversation with a friend who’s no longer my friend and who was never supportive of my sobriety.
Okay, that’s pretty much the whole story right there. It went a little something like this…
Thanks for readin’, and thanks to all my new followers! Oh, and I hope everyone noticed the couple of Southern-centric pics I spliced in-between the quotes! Thanks to the *Simply Southern Tumblr*
for those images…again, just mosey on over there for your fix of Southern Aristocracy for the time being. They really have so, so many neat pics and I’ve enjoyed following them the last few weeks.
Here’s one last GIF to end with, and I’ll call it a day. Life advice from Bob Ross is the best kind of life advice. Until next time–brt