When Life shows up

Of all the slogans we hear in the rooms, I have struggled the most with the “life” themed ones.

Accepting life on life’s terms…
When life gets lifey…
When life shows up…

After some time under my belt, I figured out they are mostly talking about expectations and acceptance. But I have to say, that “life on life’s terms” was at once the most mystifying and irksome.

First of all, what the f-word does that mean, anyway?  Who is this “Life” and where exactly are these “terms” recorded?  I clearly didn’t get the manual.  I think what is most objectionable is the personification of life as though it too has a will – and is commander and chief to boot.  For sure, it triggers my inner anarchist, prompting a visceral rebel yell from somewhere deep in my core. Somewhere about an onion-layer above soul-level where my programming sits in defiance of all that’s holy.

The other sayings are less confrontational, IMHO, but still feel a bit fatalistic for someone who has yet to get to the nirvana of a solid Step 11, and put it into practice during rocky times.  “Life showing up” and “getting lifey” both imply that when that pesky Mr. arrives at your door, it’s at best going to be a dull or irritating afternoon; at worst, a roller coaster ride with the original four-letter word that starts with F and rhymes with “dear”.  Either way, it doesn’t sound like fun, this life business.

My preference, now, is to imagine my journey through daily life as a patchwork quilt.  It’s a bit of this, a bit of that. And often all at once horrifying, bad, tiresome, irksome, good, delightful, and divine.  This revelation came to me one day recently when I grew tired of trying to respond to the well meaning but most often rhetorical “how are you?”.   The program has taught me to be rigorously honest. And as the depth and breadth of my sobriety increases, I am finding it harder to just say “fine, thank you”. I am rarely if ever just fine.  My state of being is more often than not a mixed bag, and I suspect that is true for most people (especially recovering humans).  So, now, that is what I say unless it is a truly gleeful day or one that started out and stayed firmly in the shitter.  Though, I do usually say it with an ironic smile so as not to bring down the room more than necessary (yes, I probably need another program but that is a topic for another blog).

Any other recovering humans out there have an opinion on this life business?  Please feel free to comment. I would love to hear from you.

With Affection,
Tracy A.







I will never graduate from recovery

Last week I heard a podcast hosted by a popular doctor who has a respectable knowledge of  12 Step programs.  She had a caller who said she’d been attending meetings but didn’t really believe she would always be an alcoholic.   The host heartily agreed, citing the disappearance of her own sugar addiction–and referencing some new, radical recovery approaches that “cured” heroine addiction with a 65% success rate.  I was shocked.

This recovering human was taught that we never graduate from the disease.  Instead, we are granted a “daily reprieve” contingent on the fitness of our spiritual condition.  We can live and thrive in remission–but we must never be cavalier about our success.  I rarely take what others say as gospel, but this I wholeheartedly believe: I can’t afford to stop working my program, ever.  My addiction is one small slip away, and I take comfort in that simple fact. It keeps me humble, and canny. It keeps me coming back to present, when I catch myself drifting to past laurels, hiding in present comforts or spinning about the future.

So, why was I thrown by this brilliant doctor (whom I much admire) making claims to the contrary? Because I know what she said is not true.  I know that the 65% relieved of heroin addiction are not cured of being addicts. I know this like I know the sun will rise and set tomorrow. I can’t prove it, but there is a knowing among people in recovery that goes gut-deep. We share it with newcomers, as others did for us when we first walked into the rooms.

Don’t get me wrong, if someone gets clean and sober – no matter the method – that is something to be celebrated.  The heroine addicts–who had a burning man type recovery experience — are people who have a real shot at recovering their lives, having gotten some relief from the physical addiction.  But I don’t believe for a minute that they can walk away from a short-term rehab and never worry about picking up again. I would like to see the long-term success rate of these other methods, before rethinking my approach to recovery, and what I would recommend to the person who still suffers.

At the end of the day, all I know is what works for me and what I have seen during my time in the rooms. People who stop attending meetings, and drift from the program, tend to “go out”–and sometimes they don’t make it back in time to save their lives. I keep coming back.  I stay in the middle of the herd.  I catch myself getting complacent and tell on myself.  I call my sponsor.  I stay in service.  I am ridiculously imperfect, but I do keep trying to practice the principles of the program in all my affairs. Practice is the key word.  I know without a shadow of a doubt if I keep practicing, I will stay in remission from the disease that could so easily take me out.

I close with a prayer for those who are still trying to decide if they have a problem.  May you find your answers, know them gut-deep, in time.

With Love,

Tracy A.


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