Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Being Satisfied With Our Daily Accomplishments.

I've heard many times in meetings, and from sponsees, and once upon a time, believed myself, that what I (we) managed to get done in a day was never enough. I gave myself no wiggle room for illness, fatigue, or simple mood - every day was the same - I hounded myself mercilessly to do more, always do more. I couldn't look at what I'd accomplished and feel satisfaction.

Today I was out picking moss from the stone verge of the rooftop terrace. The crows like to come down, pick up a clump of moss, and fling it out onto the terrace, looking for worms and other insect life. We end up with a terrace covered in small clumps of moss with mud attached, distributed evenly on the walking surface.

 I figured out that if I just remove the moss, they have nothing to fling and I feel immediate gratification at the resulting clean space. Much of gardening seems to consist of various tidying and neatening jobs of this sort, and I enjoy them all. Years ago, however, I wouldn't have been able to do what I did today, which was to do half the task, then stop for the day. Or had I been able to stop before completing the job, I'd have been completely unable to take any pleasure in the work I had completed, because I would have been nattering at myself about not staying at it, until I finished.

I was raised to believe that half-done was the same as not started. I had to be in Al-Anon for quite a few years, before I could give myself credit for whatever I managed to get done in one day. And it took a few more years after that, before I could even consider giving myself permission to take a day of rest. It felt like the "thin edge of the wedge" to get up in a day and decide that if I did not much of anything that day, I was still a good person, and my world wouldn't fall apart.

Challenging this kind of message instilled in early childhood can feel world-shaking to begin with, but after we've moved through the process to a state of clarity unsullied by emotions of guilt or shame, we may be astonished to realise their power over us.

Today I accept that whatever I get done is enough for today. Some days I will accomplish everyday tasks, as well as clear up a backlog of waiting chores. Other days, I'm doing well to be up, washed, and dressed. It's all okay. What matters is that I have love and respect in my life. Picking moss can be spread over two or even three (gasp!) days.


  1. Thank you very much for that thought. I fight the nagging feeling that I haven't done enough in a day, and my half-finished art projects also have seemed a neurotic habit. I do usually finish them, but sometimes weeks after I start. Maybe I just need to accept that about myself. (And then it might get better.)

  2. Giving myself permission to do what I want, when I want to do it has been huge for me. I don't have to drive myself until I drop but can get some things done or not. Life is better without punishing myself.

  3. All I can say is thank you. Thank you for sharing your wisdom and recovery. When I read your blog I feel completely connected to this program and very self aware of how sometimes my thoughts had been completely twisted by addiction.
    I entered Al-Anon in 2002 and everyday I wonder how I lived before the benefits of this program. I was quite crazy about getting things done immediately. The program has taught me to have balance, and yet still I get neurotic sometimes. But I can see the crazy, love it, accept it and decide if I Want to be crazy today. That is truly freedom.