The Detestable, Irresistible Challenges
Dare to take a wild guess as to where I am?
That’s right – a coffee shop. Surprise, surprise. Funny, because before I sobered up, if I had two cups of cream drenched coffee inside of a year, it would be two too many. Once I hit recovery, though, I began to drink coffee as though it was my life-blood. Why is that?
I’m not at my typical coffee joint. I’m across town right now, waiting for HW to show up. We’ve got some work to do, but she’s getting her hair colored/dyed/bleached, or something, so she’s not here yet. (Hey, I’ve never had my hair color changed manually before – what do I know?) That means I have time to… well, I’m not really sure, to be honest.
Thankfully, AF had given me another book to read the last time I was at her place (A New Earth, by Eckhart Tolle). She challenges me like that. I need these challenges, too. They help me grow, and she knows it is hard for me to resist a challenge. All of my counselors figured that out, too. The rest of the recovery group didn’t like me too well in that respect, because I took the challenges to heart. I want to never drink again. I want to grow, and change. I want to find me. The counselors saw that, and continued to bring on the challenges.
So when AF loaned me the book, and she said, “Here, read this. You’ll like it.” I took hold of the book and replied, “Okay.”
This is the second book she’s loaned to me to read, the first one being Drop the Rock, which I found highly useful. I really needed that book. A New Earth is already promising to be useful and eye opening. I can’t wait to get through it, actually.
The whole conversation started as we discussed past books we’d read. I briefly mentioned that, when I was a kid, what I had available to read was limited material. All of it had to be okayed in the light of the church and/or the family matriarchs. And although that’s okay to some degree, it was highly limiting. It makes it tough because, once again, I have a hard time relating to people in yet another area of life.
Thankfully, I am quickly closing the gap on what I can relate to, and what “they” can relate to, and it is directly because of the challenges that I’ve received from AF, ZJ, and my counselors. More recently, AF has handed me a number of them; from book readings, to reaching out, to simply discussing things with me that make me think about my recovery as time goes on. She just keeps handing me the challenges, so I keep grabbing them up.
I was recently challenged by AF to find “guy friends.” I was raised with four brothers, and a very strict father (and mother), so I had no desire in this challenge at all – and yet, I took it; hook, line, and sinker. Oi.
Challenges can lead to amazing results if the person accepting them is willing to do the work. Where it shines is in the acknowledgement of what they find, and the application of their discoveries to themselves. That’s the trick; acceptance of the necessary changes, making the changes, and trusting the end result will be better than what it was or what we thought it would or should be. This is not always an easy task.
So I set out the very next day to “seek out a male friend.” Interestingly, as I worked this challenge, I discovered that I had more male friends than I had perceived, which I now realize was part of AF’s challenge – to help me see what was already there. I also met new male friends. Understand, I’m still not as comfortable talking to men, which according to my counselor isn’t really all that uncommon; yet, the male friends that I have are becoming increasingly easier to speak with. Prior to AF’s challenge, I didn’t see this. Now, it’s plain as day.
That’s the beauty of The Program, The People in The Rooms, the 12-steps, and all the challenges. We can all change if we want it badly enough, and there is already a brilliant program in existence that works. Normally, I would refer to this program as “quietly” as possible so as not to favor one over another, but I’m going to make a heartfelt statement here, right now:
AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) changes lives. Not by preventing us from drinking, but by teaching us how to live life. Sober.
12-step programs, anonymous or not, are prime examples of wonderful challenges; as if sobriety and recovery themselves weren’t challenging enough. I suppose that this is why those of us that thrive on personal challenges both struggle with, and succeed in, sobriety. We like to have something we know, deep in our hearts, we can succeed in, but we don’t want to relinquish control because it is our challenge. Yet, we need the guidance and assuredness of others so we know where we stand. It's like being given a direction, an affirmation that we're on the right track, that we're fulfilling a purpose – correctly. It’s part of the healing process. Eventually the reliance on others for reassurance and direction will lessen, but until then, it is an important piece of the process; to see where we’re at, to accept needed guidance.
It wasn’t until I started being challenged by The Program (actually working the steps) that I began to see where it could help me grow. Then again, I wasn’t ready for The Program at the time; I was still struggling with the fact that there must be a softer, easier way.
I stand corrected.