Tag Archives: Change

The Winds of Change

So, for those of you who have been following along, my previous post was about possibly losing things that are near and dear to me.

Well, Hurricane IRMA passed right over us, the eye itself in fact. We survived. While many in this state suffered to varying degrees, we came through remarkably well. Our home was not damaged. We did not lose power. We had running water. Were we scared? You bet.

As I mentioned, throughout the state, friends, and neighbors have been suffering through difficulties (some still are) including loss of power, no ice, no running water, backed-up plumbing, flooding, damaged or destroyed homes, damaged or destroyed vehicles, and other challenges.

In many ways, at least for me, this experience had many similarities to when I first got sober. Once Hurricane IRM was over, we realized how fortunate we were compared to so many others we know. There was that same sense of wonder and amazement I experienced when I came through be sober for a while. There was that innate knowledge that things could have turned out so much worse.

The hyped up-state and sense of worry and constant sustained sense of anxiety were all quite familiar, and so too was the mental and physical exhaustion that came with them.

When everything was over, there was a sense of relief, with the release all at once of the pent-up excitement, worry, doubt, and fear; a fear that was present always, no matter how much it was suppressed and pushed to the background.

Everything is not completely back-to-normal here yet. Some things are still not as abundant as they were before the storm such as gas, water, propane, and other supplies. Some are are yet without running water, properly functioning plumbing or electricity. It’s funny how much we take these basics for granted every day until we have to do without them.

Just as in recovery, there are repairs to be made, things to be put back in order, as they should be. Those basics we so take for granted become so mush more appreciated again.

This experience has once again, in a clear and practical way, shown me that recovery is just like life itself: we have to work at it, so it doesn’t fall apart and stop working.

Old Friends

Photo ©Barry Kerzner

Photo ©Barry Kerzner

So I’m driving in the car the other day and my Simon & Garfunkel playlist is permeating every corner of Earl, my “Hamstermobile,” from stem to stern. It sounds really good too, and I am relishing every moment, singing along. I’m thinking, “I’ve been listening to these songs for almost 50 years and they still have as much meaning for me as when I first heard them as a child. They still sound just as good, and they still move me to tears or make me smile, just as they have all these years.”

Recovery has a lot in common with the Simon & Garfunkel songs I listen to. The things that are read and said at meetings are the “hits” I have been hearing for almost 29 years now. “It works if you work it.” “One day at a time.” “There but for the grace of God go I.” Just like the the Simon & Garfunkel songs have different meaning for me as I live more and grow older, so too do the lessons I am taught in the rooms. The lyrics of the songs haven’t changed; it is me that has changed. I have experienced more, seen more, lived more, and my perceptions have changed because of this.

The song “Old Friends” has been a particular favorite of mine for many reasons. It is a look at a day that once had seemed SO far off, and now seems to be approaching with ever more haste as each year passes. The loneliness, the change, the knowing it can never be as it once was, none of it. Not my life, my loves, my heart; the consequences of the choices I’ve made over the years are more apparent and intrusive now. Some mistakes have no remedies just as some transgressions will not be afforded the opportunity to make amends for. Most of all, looking back on a life and seeing all the missteps and the realization that most can not be changed, or made right again, and the disappointment that comes with this. Knowing that we are shadows of the strong, rebellious, vibrant young people we once were. That is gone now even though it seems like it was just yesterday.

So it is with recovery in some ways. We have to let our mistakes go if we want to move on. That doesn’t mean that we don’t try to make amends where appropriate and where it doesn’t harm others just to assuage our own guilt and/or regret. As we learn from our past, we move into the future. As we get closer to the end though, we are grateful for the time we have been given because deep in our heart of hearts we know that had we not remained clean and sober, we would not have had any of that at all.

Even as time is “running out,” we have to learn to forgive ourselves, which in some ways, if one has any conscience whatsoever, is the hardest thing to do. Once again, even now, we are left with the one basic truth:

one day at a time - serenity prayer coin pair

The Winds of Change

Firecracker_4896-online

Muhammad Ali once said “The man who views the world at 50 the same as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” This is especially relevant to anyone who is in recovery. Most “normal” people change and modify their viewpoints as they travel through the various experiences that life sends their way. On the face of it, this seems very natural. Why shouldn’t this so?

Think about it. As we grow from child to teenager, to young adult, to adulthood; then on into “middle age,” and finally old age, we find ourselves dealing with people, places, and circumstances we could have never imagined. As we progress, life becomes more and more an adventure. We are tested daily. Our threshold for ignorance, hate, stress, indifference, and apathy are pushed to the limit. More and more, we come face to face with our shortcomings and deficiencies. We also (hopefully) experience a deeper appreciation for the good things that come our way. Births, weddings, vacations, or even just a quiet day to ourselves.

So what has really changed? Certainly, the world has not changed. What has changed is us!

For those of us in recovery, this change is one of our saving graces! If we are in the midst of a strong recovery, we have grown spiritually, emotionally, and intellectually. Fear no longer rules our lives. We are no longer running from our past and its demons (mostly). With every day, we become more and more at ease with who we are, and we strive to become who we have the potential of being. We put in the work. More and more, we believe we do deserve a better life than the one we were living in our addictions.

Being a non-addicted, thriving, giving, grateful, productive, content you – isn’t that what recovery is about?