“Act as if” is one of the first and truest things i learned in recovery.
If you’re sad, act like you’re happy.
If you’re angry, act like you’re calm.
If you’re afraid, act as though you’re brave.
The miracle of this is that, after acting happy, calm and brave long enough, you’ll become happy, calm, and brave.
Of course it’s not that simple… Except it is.
At an AA meeting the other day, one of the speakers pointed out that ‘one day at a time’ includes the past as well. This concept brought on a whole shift in perspective for me, as i’d always thought of the expression in terms of “i only have to worry about not taking a drink today. Tomorrow is another problem.”
“One day at a time” includes my past as well. i don’t worry about tomorrow, but neither do i worry about yesterday.
Let yesterday heal the past and tomorrow worry about the future. Today is all i can manage.
In Year 1 of recovery, i was so excited to be free of the disease that i did not care where i had come from. Now in Year 2, the sheer distance i’ve covered makes it impossible not to notice where i was.
We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.
That quote is from the AA Big Book, more specifically The Promises. That quote is testament to the fact that i am not fully recovered, because i still disagree with many of my readers and harbor regrets about my past actions.
Lately, memories come back to me at random moments, like stepping on shards of broken mirrors hidden in the carpet. Memories of how i mistreated friends, hurt those that love me, and even damaged my children cut me to my core.
The further i distance myself from the asshole i was, the more i realize what an asshole i was. It hurts to see how i behaved. That i did not know better does not lessen the pain.
That it means i am far enough removed from that guy to be shocked, however, does take away the sting, if only a little.
A misguided aim to please yourself. The spark that makes you want to shoot yourself in the foot you will use to kick your own ass with.
ITSB and i often ride the same wavelength. In a comment to one of my recent posts, he introduced the theme of triggers, which i’d already been thinking about, as evidenced by the above definition added to the Glossaary.
The other day i walked between two people planted curbside so i could cross the street they thought had too much traffic to brave. i mumbled a polite “Excuse me” as i passed between them, but this apparently was not loud enough because the eldest of the two women looked up at me and barked “Excuse me”. Then again. Before she could do it once more, i looked her in the eye and told her i’d said “Excuse me” and continued on my way.
As i left, i thought about the way i’d dealt with the problem and was satisfied i’d handled it correctly, but that didn’t matter, i couldn’t let it go. For the rest of my commute i kept seeing the woman’s face as she reprimanded me and realized soon enough that i felt uncomfortable, obsessive and anxious. i was triggered.
i’ve always known what triggers are, but not what my triggers are. i decided to write them down as i believe framing things with words makes it easier to recognize them. ITSB already beat me to it by including his list in his comment.
I have a whole set of trigger for “awful thoughts”:
1) Stuck in traffic on my way to work
2) Too much caffeine in my bloodstream
4) Too much running/over training
5) Republicans making their opinions known
and the mother of all triggers:
6) Low blood sugar.
Any of these ring a bell?
i’ve been working on my own list for the last couple of days and here’s what i’ve come up with…
- Other people’s anger
- Being alone
- Euchre on my cell phone/tablet
- Sunday afternoon
- Drunk people in AA meetings
- One on one conversations with people
- Computer problems / broken electronics
The next step is to figure out what it is about these things that trigger me, so i can diffuse them.
Some of you readers have been kind enough to remark on the honesty i display in some of my blog posts, and for that i thank you.
It’s a little self serving of me to take any credit, however, because all i’m doing in being honest is following one of the basic tenets of the program. i’m just “developing a manner of living which requires rigorous honesty” [from "Chapter 5: How It Works" of the Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book, page 58].
Rigorous Honesty means being so honest i don’t even lie to myself. This is the most difficult kind of honesty to foster because often my brain doesn’t share the secret when it plays tricks on me.
There’s an expression my sponsor told me before doing Step 5 of the Twelve Steps (“Admitted to God, ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.”):
You’re only as sober as your secrets.
Now, i don’t have to tell you guys all my deep dark secrets, but what i do decide to post here has to pass the truth test. “Rigorous honesty” means knowing that whatever i let slide will slide back on top of me one day.
In AA speak, the slogan “Think! Think! Think!” means stop listening to your gut and start listening to the voice of reason. As alcoholics, we were dogs salivating for booze as soon as the warning bells went off, and the more we drank the faster and louder those bells rang. We we drank instinctively.
“Think! Think! Think!” tells us to stop acting on reflexes and keep our brains turned on.
(In some rooms, the “Think! Think! Think!” sign is turned upside down to tell us that yes, we need to think, but we need to think differently than we did in the past because our alcoholic thinking led us into a bottleneck.)
i keep saying that coincidence is the language of God and lately the question of my thought patterns keeps coming up.
- i’ve been overly sensitive lately because i can’t turn off my brain when it comes to my problems
- i’ve been thinking about how i can’t wait to get to Step 11 in the 12 Steps where it talks about meditation
- My best recovery friend in the States talked about my “knowledge, IQ and ability to understand (recognize) situations and to give help to others” as a way to manage my overzealous thought patterns
- At our last meeting, my sponsor said that controlling my intelligence is a key to moving forward in my sobriety
To control these rampant thoughts, my sponsor has suggested writing them out as soon as i feel the panic setting in. i do know that keeping busy helps and that going to meetings really really helps, but if anyone else has any tips (other than more exercise, ITSB! lol) on how to keep the dogs of thoughts at bay, i’d love to hear them.
Thanks for being there, y’all.
To begin, here’s a new entry to my GlossAAry. (Yes, it’s pertinent…there’s a madness to my method!)
Where the pink elephants used to live, and what you have left now they’ve gone.
Right next to Cloud Nine, the Pink Cloud is the feeling of relief you feel when you stop pounding your head against the stone wall of inebriation, convinced you will somehow break through.
Not everyone experiences this high in the first year of sobriety, and usually those that do get it say that it lasts only a few months.
In my previous post, where i discussed how the second year of recovery presents some unique challenges, fellow Recovery Artist Mrs D left a comment saying,
Oh, I want to know more about this .. heading as I am into my second year…
i think in my case, one of the reasons i’m finding it harder to trudge the road of Happy Destiny in Year 2 A.D. (After Drinking) is that i did experience the Pink Cloud. If i remember correctly, it began in my 2nd month of sobriety and lasted about 2 months total. After that, the feelings faded.
Why? Since i was feeling good every day, feeling good became the new norm. If you win the lottery daily, there comes a point when you stop throwing a party over it.
How can we fight this complacency? One of the tools i use is the Gratitude List. Reminding myself of how far i’ve come and the misery i came from is powerful encouragement.
The only other way to really get a taste of the hell i escaped from is to have a taste of the hell i escaped from, and that’s just crazy talk. i’ll take a boring day in Heaven over a rough day in Hell any time.