My morning routine includes listening to a meditation talk by Tara Brach when I walk the dogs. She gives me daily doses of wisdom about how to stay present in my life, to temper back the fear and anxiety and search for joy.
Her latest talk had some powerful take aways for where I am at. Largely that we live with so much FOMO (fear of missing out) that we rush around and ultimately miss out on our lives. I try to catch and change my thinking when I want to rush the school year to get to summer or finish dinner so I can get my pajamas on and wrap up the day.
Learning to enjoy the process, savoring my moments right now, moving more slowly and bowing in gratitude for all I have and experience is how I can live a longer and fuller life.
This is is what I will practice today.
A few month’s ago a member from the local AA group ask if he could give my contact to a new comer in case she had any questions. I said sure and not knowing what was expected of me. We texted a little back and forth, she disappeared for months, resurfaced, elusively checked in and then dodged questions and we chatted on the phone a couple of times. The last time I couldn’t tell if she was drunk or not, hadn’t communicated in weeks then wanted to get on the phone immediately, non-committal about meeting up, what she was doing to take care and was despondent about her lonely life. At some point she called me her sponsor and thanked me for all the support I have been giving her. What? All of it made me panic a little bit: I don’t feel equipped to be anyone’s sponsor, was I really helping her or enabling her to dwell in her dramas by being a sympathetic ear and not calling her on the bullshit of her stories?
Distressed, I called my sponsor and told her some of the above points about the situation, and how I don’t have at my finger tips to guide this woman down the path of AA and I waver from feeling helpful and doing a little service to feeling exploited and what should I do? She said, “welcome to the world of new comers!” And went on to say that this woman wants help but probably has not surrendered and isn’t ready to take the actual steps to be sober yet. But my job isn’t necessarily keep this woman sober and I will be one of the many people on her journey until she’s ready to actually commit to what it takes to be sober.
I did not go through being a new comer in AA, and I haven’t been around any new comers really myself to know the “characteristics” of new comers: lonely, slippery, self-centered, desperate, volatile. I’m so glad my sponsor was able to support me to help this woman when she asks while having some terms that make it about getting sober and not being audience to her drama, how to redirect things back to her getting the help that she needs.
Most importantly, my sponsor brought up that maybe that this woman serves me as a reminder of just how far I have come on my own journey. I brushed this off in conversation, but she is so good at slipping in those reminders that I need to be kinder to myself and appreciate the growth and the work I have done in my sobriety-I’m still new to this part of my living, but not as new as a new comer who still wallowing in her addiction. I need to remember this tomorrow, as I will be back at work after spring break. I ready to continue my practice to see the best in people, not harbor resentments and be forgiving of my own and others' humanness.
I have so much to tell you blog! I’ve completed my Step 4 & 5 and now I feel like I have the clarity of where to really focus my recovery....and it is, of course, at the heart of what is most important and most difficult.
The bundled insight I gathered from doing my Step 4 & 5 is that carry around my disappointments in my parents in their care of me. I quickly see similar failing in my current relationships and old patterns of armoring, intolerance, and resentment are quickly triggered.
To plainly lay it out: Due to their own wounds, addictions and limited tools, my parents were not always the parents I needed to feel safe, loved and understood. These feeling boiled down into the feeling they didn’t didn’t do their “role” well-they often were not the adults in the situations.
I see this come out in my feelings towards people in these thoughts/feelings:
I woke up this morning, a Wednesday, and looked at the date of January 16 and it rung a bit. I couldn’t figure out for quite a bit why the date stood out, but eventually realized that it is my first Day 1 Anniversary. It was quite a watershed moment for me. The first earnest action steps to stop drinking opened the pathways to a larger life, one that is still unfolding before me. It was a tipping point for self-care, listening to what my spirt needs to feel safe and whole; listening to my body, my conscious, my heart, to others more deeply. It has not been a straight line of growth and “betterment”, it has not been a clear goal that I’ve been striving for, but I feel different; I am sitting differently in myself than I was in January 2015.
While I have always been introspective, a good chunk of it was self-criticism, shaping, judging, fortifying. Where now I have more moments of gentleness and digging underneath my feelings to see what the roots stem from. With the help of AA, Buddhist study and meditation, I am learning to open my heart towards compassion instead of judgement and protect space in presence. Buddhism has specifically given me tools to ward off depression, anxiety and nihilism. I’m into it!
I’m coming to the end of my holiday break, an amazing 2-weeks away from work. Over half of my vacation time was spent with my mother-in-law here in Guangzhou and a bit traveling. The second half was soaking up my time lounging at home, reflecting on the year and making plans for this year as it arrives.
It’s an odd year, literally an odd year. I feel like I am drawn to even years, they are easily divided by two, easy to count up, they seem cleaner and wrapped up. The odd years are messier, more raw, and not as easily contained. Yet, when I look at the odd years, or more so my odd ages, these seem to stand out in my memories as transformative.
For 2018 I had a concise resolution, channeling the motto: Keep it Simple. And while not always a focus, I did try to re-think situations and not complicate and force action. I worked to let things go and it will always be a work in progress.
This year I got back into the details for goals for 2019. I know that by spelling out what I want to accomplish makes it easier for me to strive towards it. I’m going to fulfill multiple resolutions today: use my oven to master some baked dishes, cooking more vegetarian food and entertain at home regularly. I decided to dedicate each month to “mastering” a sweet and savory dish in the oven. January is quiche and the continuation of brownie. I reached out to some friends to see if people were in town and if they wanted to be guinea pigs in my cooking resolutions. Everyone who was in town said yes! As always, I felt like a teenager wondering if anyone would come to my party, getting ready for rejection. And now I have 8 people and 2 kids coming over which means I need to back two quiches. So most of the day will be baking: brownies, two quiches with homemade blind-baked crusts and then some soup and veggies on the side. I’m not going to stress about people mixing and conversation flowing. It’s going to be great. Husband will take care of the booze and I will hydrate with soda water all evening. I’m really looking forward to this!
I used to drink with the best of them, but I don't anymore. My life is so much better for it.
-Drinking: A Love Story by Caroline Knapp