Spiderman has undergone amazing transformations since his debut in 1962. His superhuman strength and ability to cling to almost any surface remind me of the sober alcoholic who is really practicing this thing. Known for his agility and amazing reflexes, Spiderman is a great example of what happens when we tune into our inner senses and prepare for whatever is coming next.
You may know (if you follow comics, or mainstream media) that in recent years, Spiderman has been reborn. That’s a reminder that we can and should always be actively improving ourselves. For me, that means refining what it is I think inspires my joy and creativity. Refining and refining and refining. And then….refining.
Because the truth is, I don’t always know what will make me happy. Mmmmm….let me rephrase. I almost NEVER know. I think I know. But if I’m not tuning into a power greater than myself, chances are I will achieve my intent (or some mutated version of it) only to find that I am still unhappy (aka: discontent, restless, bored, uninspired, empty, depressed, blah…you get the picture.)
It was like that back in 2000 when I was newly sober (for the 2nd time), newly married, a new homeowner and a new mother. I finally had almost all of things that were on my mental checklist for satisfaction. You have one of those, don’t you? Admit it! We ALL have that running around in our head. It’s that list of things that you ramp up and work towards achieving because you think that by checking each one of those off your list that giant hole inside you that screams ‘YOU ARE NOT ENOUGH’ will disappear. Incidentally, my checklist at the time involved driving a Volvo station wagon and getting a St. Bernard–both things I also achieved. I know, random, right?
The point is, I was sitting in the middle of it all and miserable. And there is nothing quite as miserable as sitting on your beautiful wood floors in your beautiful house, holding your perfect baby in your lap, with your giant St. Bernard panting behind you and your shiny Volvo parked in the driveway, and feeling miserable inside.
You really feel like a loser in that moment. Also, you feel scared to death. I recognized in that very intuitive moment, that I was incapable of figuring out what it would take to make me happy. I considered a divorce. I considered abandoning it all–including my child. I considered leaving. Because I had been sober a total of less than a thousand days (that included both sobrieties at the time) out of a lifetime of more than 10,000 days. And I didn’t have my sober superpowers back then. I only had my experience. I had what I came from–which was a world where everyone leaves. Where leaving is the first and only real solution. Cut and run. Fuck it.
That’s a really lonely way to live. I understand now what a painful trajectory that is for a life course. Thank god I had a sponsor at the time who suggested that instead of getting divorced and abandoning my child, I should show up to a park on Hazeltine Drive each morning at 6:45 and walk with her.
That did not seem like a solution to my problems at the time. Eleanor was 71 years old. Walking with her and her group of old lady friends each morning at the crack of dawn after having been up all night with a screaming baby did not FEEL like it was going to fix anything. But I had already been sober and gotten loaded once. And there was a part of me so desperate that I was willing to take direction. Also, I could not afford therapy at the time. So…there it is.
I would show up to the park with mascarra smeared under my eyes, in clothes covered in spit up and sometimes mismatched shoes (you have no idea how early you actually have to leave your house in Los Angeles to drive across the Valley and arrive anywhere by 6:45 in the morning.) I would haul all of my shit (baby stroller, bottles, diaper bags, yada yada) out of the back of my Volvo station wagon and drag it across the parking lot where those 3 old ladies would be standing and waiting for me. Then they would take the stroller and push my baby around the park and talk to her, and play with her and coo at her, and I would cry, complain, or just follow comatose behind them. I was so incredibly sick…and I say that, not as a joke, but with an unbelievable amount of compassion for who I was at that time.
I did that for more than a year. And guess what? I got better! It was my routine. I’m pretty sure it kept me sober, and married, and I know it kept me sane (or as sane as was possible.) And in that year, I learned that I don’t always know what I want. Sometimes I get things that I think I want and they suck, or the things that come with them suck. But that’s okay. It’s a part of it. Because sometimes I get things that I didn’t know I wanted, like the chance to create my family…one that doesn’t leave. And those things are amazing.
I have now been sober for thousands of days. And while it is still quite possible for me to end up scratching my head wondering how I got myself into something (metaphorically speaking) I no longer place quite the same value on either my ambitions or my achievements (now if I could only learn not to take my failures so seriously!) I am quite aware in some very deep place, that none of it changes any of it.
The part of me that screams, YOU ARE NOT ENOUGH, can only be silenced by some message more powerful. That message is: YOU HAVE ALWAYS BEEN ENOUGH. You were enough from the moment you were born. There is nothing to prove. There is nowhere to go. There is nothing to do. Relax. Know that you are loved and all is well. And from a place of peace, a place of knowing that NONE OF IT WILL CHANGE ANY OF IT, ask yourself what inspires you, and dream.