As I relax during a mini-vacation, I get to enjoy a level of reflection that does not come as easily when in the city. One of the gifts that I am offered during this stay is that of time. Even though time has not actually slowed down, I am on very limited bandwidth, and I also do not have reception because I chose a budget phone plan in my financial wellness of learning to live debt-free. With this extra time granted to me through lack of the usual resources (I muse over a gift given through a seeming denial) I am able to truly reflect on my gratitude.
Today, I am feeling immense gratitude for the 12 Step program that I am in. So much so, that I wanted to list off several of the reasons why this modality has worked so beautifully for me, and how today I bask in its glory. Here are some of the best lessons I have learned in my program and its fellowship:
- Suit up and show up. With the instruction to “report to life”, I have been able to overcome so many obstacles. And while I still struggle in certain areas, such as with confrontation and self-esteem, my life is drastically more abundant today, because my program taught me how to hold space for the discomfort in day-to-day events that I would typically run from or avoid.
- Leave things better than I found them. I can apply this lesson to every aspect of my life. I have been given the gifts of sobriety and a way of living that has led to undeniable appreciation. I find that I even when I’m tired, I always have it in me to try a little harder to help someone out. Even when I am having a tough day, I can without question go one step beyond what’s asked of me.
- Live and let live. Before my spiritual awakening, I was making sacrifices to a god who I didn’t even know I feared. My actions were either to correct a past mistake so I could finally find some sort of vindication, or to prevent a future mistake/punishment. Once I began to straighten out mentally and physically, I could understand that this higher power is not out to “get me”, and that this idea of a vengeful god was not indicative of anything that I witnessed either in nature or in meditation.
- The next right thing. It is a pleasure to do the right thing. Maybe it’s because I feel beholden for my new way of living, or maybe it’s because I intuitively craved order in my past of chaos, but today I love doing the next right thing. Whether it’s going the speed limit, clocking in on time at work, or recycling correctly, I find so much satisfaction in playing by the rules.
Even in the most sordid of moods (which thanks to my program of action doesn’t happen all too often, and when it does I can see what self-centered actions led to a letdown and can then quickly course-correct) I am able to still recognize beauty. The self-absorption that facilitates stewing in negative emotion has been drastically peeled back. And again through the absence of one thing, I am able to better acquire another thing, which in this case is a degree of serenity that provides grounding perspective in my life.
Something that I have noticed about these gifts is that I wasn’t seeking them; I am not sure I was even aware of them being available for the taking. Whenever I am feeling dismayed or that I am not achieving my full potential, I reflect on these gifts of recovery as they pop up spontaneously in my days, and I am amazed. That my heart has finally been transformed from stone to flesh is truly all I wanted: the rest will sort itself out in due time.
Thanks to a recent peace of mind, I can understand the difference between what is important for my wellbeing, and what is simply a distraction of the world. But something else that recovery has granted me, which I wasn’t at all expecting, is a degree of forgiveness toward that distraction, and the gratitude for being shown the truth through it.
I have enjoyed so much freedom which I didn’t even know existed until I began to appraise my experiences throughout my days, learning how to mitigate the self-defeating thoughts and actions, while celebrating the ones that encourage growth.
As I revel in unfiltered nature – something I had to learn to love and appreciate as I challenged my ego and the elitism of the city – I can see now how much I have healed and grown past my judgements of myself and therefore of others. As I learn to live honestly and openly, I accredit all of my newfound accomplishments to my program of recovery which, to my happy surprise, taught me how to live with integrity, within my means, and in harmony with myself and those around me.