Since my recovery began back on September 21, 2013, I’ve researched recovery in many different formats, as well as several variations of the same formats, and although the degree of “simple” varies in each one, I can state with certainty that I've corrupted the straighforward processes with my overworked, convoluted efforts. Yet, I can look back and see absolutely how specific groups were of great benefit to me in my current walk, no matter how complicated I twisted things.
Many of these were very effortless tasks, such as “keeping me away” (aka: giving me a place to go without alcohol), some were as "painless" as making me look at who I am deep inside, and some were foolproof, intended only to let me know where I didn’t want to be. And yes, I do mean that by going to a couple of the groups I discovered that they would not work for me in my recovery. That is to say, not at the time, or even right now for some of them -- but who knows about in the future? Which is something else I’ve gained, by the way… acceptance that not all my decisions are absolutely final. Kind of weird when I think about how, as a kid, I carried the attitude of “you made your bed, now you sleep in it.” I’m not really sure where I got that thought process, nonetheless, it was there -- but that’s a story for another time.
Meanwhile, back on topic, I have found that many of the programs really stress simplicity. Some go about it in a rather convoluted way with structure and rules and guidlines, etc., which may seem counterintuitive, but at the time it suited me because I needed the overabundant instructions to crowd my mind. I didnt know what to do, where to go, who to see, or how to act. It was the crowding of the “unnecessaries” that helped prevent all the extra room for cravings, urges, and other desires to take that first drink or do other destructive things. Don’t get me wrong, those things crept in -- they always have and sometimes still do -- but at the time, by me focusing on extra scheduling and going to so many meetings and when and how and with who etc., it kept my mind busy enough to actually shut off Left Side and Right Side for a while. And believe me, that in-and-of-itself was a lifesaver.
But as I go along in my recovery, and my concept of my Higher Power matures and my recovery evolves, I begin to realize how much less I need the complication of “small talk” to fill my mind. By no means does this mean that “I’m better” nor that I’m beginning to become complacent. Well, sometimes maybe a little complacent <looking up with a slight whistle>, but most of the time just satisfied with my progress. (NOTE: Not prideful... I just recognize where I’ve come from, and there’s a big difference between swelling up and being boastful and complacent vs comprehending the work that’s been put into such a feat.) As I grow, I find a few things happening:
I still complicate the hell out of things -- but not like I used to.
Complicated things seem fewer and farther apart
When I am faced with the complexities of life-troubles -- I can usually do the simple things I’ve learned to either:
Work through them
- OR -
Prevent them to begin with
Again, don’t get me wrong -- I still screw up, especially when faced with life stuff I have not dealt with in a long time (or not at all in some cases). But man let me say this: It’s a lot easier to forgive my mistakes, to take it easier on myself, to accept it, and to simply move past it. Not always EASILY, but definitely easier.
There are two things I work on practicing everyday (and note that I stated “work on practicing,” because it does take some simple work, but it is also a practice that I want to make habit -- and so far, I’ve got a hell of a long ways to go). This is from a program that I frequent and work through steps in with a sponsor, and since it is copyrighted material, I wanted to note that I am borrowing it from a big, blue book and paraphrasing it here without corrupting its initial purpose or intent. There’s not much else I can do to it because it is already so good.
On another side note here, neither Drunkless (nor myself) believes that there is only one path in recovery. For that matter, neither does this specific program nor many others out there -- most believe that there are many paths to recovery. I want to make that clear because I am not promoting anyone one of them in any way, I am simply stating that I have learned some valuable tools from the aforehinted* program and I still use them today, and I have every intention in using them for a very, very long time.
Retiring and Waking: A Daily List and Simple Tool:
Before I go to bed, I constructively review my day.
Do I owe an apology to someone for anything?
Have I kept something to myself that I should discuss with another person right away?
Was I kind and loving toward all?
What could I have done better?
Was I thinking of myself most of the time?
I feel like I need to make yet another note here: We must care for ourselves if we’re to be of any use to our HP and/or society. This means that we need to keep ourselves spiritually fit, physically healthy (meaning not killing ourselves through self-neglect), mentally sound, and emotionally stable. Those are all a part of self-care, so understand that this step is really just trying to get into our motives behind our actions and check to see if we were trying to gain something to benefit us before others, or that maybe it was unhelpful to our fellows, or perhaps even potentially harmful to them.
- Was I thinking of what I could:
- do for others
- AND -
pack into the stream of life
I then attempt to remember to not go into a state of worry, regret, or morbid reflection. If I do, I will be less useful to my fellows because I will be so self absorbed there will be little room for anything but worry, regret, and dangerous self-criticism. Hence my original need for focusing on such a “complicated” set of schedules in early recovery.
After I’ve reflected on my day, I ask my Higher Power for guidance, and then (and this is HIGHLY IMPORTANT) -- I inquire what corrective measures I should take. It’s very important to ask for this, as it not only puts it out to the Universe, it also tells our own minds that we’re seeking to do what right. I cannot stress enough the importance of seeking guidance on corrective measures. Also note: when in doubt, it doesn’t hurt to ask a trusted friend, mentor, sponsor, counselor, or other life-guide. Just ask.
The following moring, I work on practicing the following:
I place my feet onto the ground, and I try to think of what it is I’m grateful for. Then I think about my day. I consider what I have to do, and then I ask my HP to direct my thoughts and actions. I also make it clear that I want to be separated from selfish motives, self-pity, and dishonesty. Also note that in the original writing from which I paraphrase, they remind us that “God gave us brains to use” and that we’ll be put in a clearer mode of thinking when we’re not thinking of wrong motives. This is so important, because it allows us to let go.
Speaking of letting go: It’s about here that I try to meditate. If I can clear my mind of selfishness and open my heart to my HPs instructions, I go about my day in a much better way. Don’t get me wrong, troubles still happen, and some days -- I wonder why I got out of bed. But most of the time… most of the time I get through my day feeling much better about being alive!
Lastly, I try to practice this in all my affairs:
When I get confused or agitated, when I get indecisive or unconcerned, I try to recognize my state of attitude and state of mind. Then I ask my HP for assistance, guidance, inspiration, an intuitive thought, or a decision. Then I try to let go of it, to relax and not worry about what it -- I don’t struggle. I am almost always surprised how the right answers come to me. Sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly... but it always does (just not always when I want it to... but it does).
Well, once again, I’ve complicated the hell out of something so simple. Nonetheless, these are things I try to work on daily. I suppose that it will be a never ending struggle, but I also suppose that it will get easier as I go... or maybe that is "simpler as I go." I don’t know, but I will say that there is a place for convolution some days -- because when I have all that to think about, I’m at least not thinking about drinking, drugging, or being dead.
* Author's Note: In case you were wondering... Ya, I know "aforehinted" is not a word... so why am I telling you this? Well... it's a little complicated... ;)