Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Do Your Own Research

When we moved into this house, it was the first time in twenty years or so that I'd had to deal with an oil furnace. We've had every other kind of heat imaginable, but not oil. One night shortly after moving in, I was out for coffee with friends after a meeting, and the topic of home heating came up, and I asked if the fuel companies offered equal payment plans, since a full tank of furnace oil can be costly. I was assured by everyone at the table that they may have done at one time, but didn't any longer, for whatever reason. I thought that strange, since the hydro and natural gas companies offer this service, but shrugged it off, and it slipped my mind.

When I decided weeks later to find out for myself, I discovered that they do offer this service. Now had you been with me at that table, you might have been momentarily convinced, as I was, that the opposite was true, so firmly was it stated. This is an aspect of human nature that I've always found utterly fascinating - we are never so convinced of our rightness, as when we are wrong.

My husband and I were trying to recall the name of something the other day, and he kept stating with great firmness, "It begins with a "C", I know that." Of course, when I finally went and looked it up, it didn't. We had a wonderful giggling fit over that one, and how convinced he'd been that he was right about the first letter, even if he couldn't remember the word itself.

I think what's going on when we speak so deteminedly about whatever it is that we don't know for certain, is wanting to be seen as a person with something to offer, whether that's information, knowledge, learning, whatever our individual egos seek. We have a fear of appearing stupid, or unevolved; we fear being judged as somehow lacking. When most of us are relative newcomers to program, we have such ferocious negative judgements of ourselves, that we tend to assume that other people will be judging us with that same harshness. As we begin to understand that inside a meeting, we will be met with love and understanding, we become more able to admit to our mistakes, and then our character defects.

I know that when I came into Al-Anon, I was not a person who was very capable of loving - not myself, and not other people. I have slowly learned how to love. I have seen love and caring demonstrated, and over time, began to want to be that way. Each step towards being more loving has required that I let go. The biggest letting go for me has always been fear - fear of so many aspects of life. Fear of failure/ fear of success: fear of other people/fear of lonliness: fear of being loved, and the resultant obligations/fear of never being loved, and the resultant misery: fear of getting close to my Higher Power, and having to let go of my character defects/fear of never letting go of my character defects, and because of that, never getting close to God....the list was endless.

I've noticed that in the last couple of years, I've had a huge leap forward in my spiritual growth. I believe that this is a direct result of my deciding to let go of more. Of everything, really. And deciding that I was going to try to live more in this moment - not just today, in right now. Right now, I'm writing. Right now, I'm walking the dogs and enjoying the scent of the breeze from the ocean. Right now, I'm pulling laundry from the washer, and putting it into the dryer, looking out the window and seeing the beauty of the giant cedar in our back yard.

Right now, I'm sitting in a chair in my livingroom, with a small warm dog sleeping in my arms, talking 12-Step to my husband, while the fire crackles and spits.

One AA speaker said something that rocked me: "Can you think of anything that doesn't take place in the moment?"  For some reason, that one sentence kept popping into my head at the most interesting of times, reminding me that there is no other time but now. The same speaker talks about being "ravaged by thought" - that was another phrase that kept coming back. I was absolutely "ravaged by thought," when I was new to Al-Anon, and for many years into my recovery. I spent many years making my life a desperate misery in the present moment, by ravaging myself with thought.

The way it is inside my head now, pretty much as soon as I catch myself beginning to do that, I stop immediately, and ask my Higher Power to take whatever it is from me. I give it over with a sigh of gratitude, knowing I'm going to receive serenity. I've done that so much in my life, and I am not willing to do it one more hour of one more day. I don't know how long I've got on this planet before I die, but I want to let all of that crap go, and live my time joyously.


  1. Sometimes I think I should write a recovery blog but then I read yours and find that you've said it all. Thank you.

  2. Fear is a big one for me. I am glad to not be stuck in fear mode these days. I saw it last week at a meeting and what it can do when we stop believing in a HP. Fear makes us believe that we aren't good enough and that the world is against us. Those old tapes are so powerful. But none of it is true. It is made up by us. Great post!