Happy Monday! I think it’s been about 2 weeks since I posted on the blog and some of you have commented that you’ve missed the posts. I thank you for that. As someone who reads a lot of blogs, and gets attached to seeing them in my inbox each day, I know that periods of prolonged silence can be frustrating, perplexing and uh…kind of annoying.
I have successfully completed my grad school application! A 20 page paper entitled “Foster Care: The Narrative of Neglect” is the thing that has primarily kept me from you during this period of silence.
This morning I woke up at my usual time, 4 a.m., and found myself sort of tossing and turning with this sense of restlessness. I got out of bed, let the dog out, started the coffee and read a chapter of a book I’m working on. It was a smooth kind of morning…the kind where you ease into your day a breath at a time, and I woke up very clear (which is not always the case!) The clarity I had this morning was in knowing that this feeling of restlessness often overtakes me when I have finished a task and am waiting in the wings, so to speak, for whatever is next. I often detest this feeling. In my worst moments it can make me depressed, nervous, fearful and angry. I can ruminate about how many roads I’ve traveled down looking for the same damn answers and coming up empty. But today, I just took a breath. Not even a deep one. Just a breath with a big exhale. I (metaphorically) threw my hands in the air and said, ‘Ok you, (god, higher power, universal energy, whatever we call it) I’m ready for something. And I’m looking forward to it.’
It’s not necessarily the sign of any great spiritual triumph that I’m able to stay in the moment this morning and just do the next indicated thing, or that I know with certainty that the thing I am meant to do will appear (either in my life or in my head.) I learned those skills in A.A. (or I should say, I learned how to practice those skills in A.A.) What is just slightly more profound is that I recognized a second feeling or energy, more subtle–and probably more dangerous–coursing through my veins just beneath the restlessness. I felt lonely. Part of that loneliness is missing my interaction with you and this blog. Another part is realizing that I’m a little in the throes of an adage I used to hear around the rooms a lot when I was new a lot: The road gets narrower.
It is a great gift of long-term sobriety and a lot of clear-headed days and nights, that I am beginning, at almost 40 years old, to know myself very well. This is quite meaningful to me, since confusion was one of my first and most profound feelings in life. These days I am quite clear on what I see, what I believe and how it impacts me and this world I am raising children in. I am also pretty vocal about it. And that has created some wedges in my world. There’s always this inclination (in me) to draw back a little (aka: shut up, sit down, and smile) in order to have a long laundry list of friends and people who ‘like’ me. For a large part of my life I’ve been a very agreeable person, because worrying about what you think of me has been very important. But in sobriety (and a friend tells me it’s also because I’m almost 40) I’ve come to this crossroads where I just don’t really care.
My road has gotten narrower…again.
It is such a miracle that any of us who at one point in our lives depend on alcohol and drugs for our breath, our peace, our survival, ever get sober. It always makes me wonder…why? The Big Book tells me very clearly that my primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics. My personal path has taught me (and continues to teach me) that my purpose is to stay sober and help. Because there is a lot of need. Carrying the message (for me) is about getting active in my community, in my children’s schools, in my city. It’s about getting educated politically, economically, socially. It’s about knowing things like the fact that tortillas, an industry that makes up 1% of Mexico’s GDP (and that’s a really really big number!) are made in places by people who are suffering the oppression from government policies on race, gender, immigration status, and labor control. And it’s about caring about those things…caring about the world at large. The human nation.
A.A. will always be my hometown. It’s the place where I learned to breathe. It’s the door that I open for others. The door that was opened for me. Like any home, I go there to rest, recharge, feed myself. And then I leave (for the day, the hour, the week..whatever.) I leave because as a friend says, ‘Nothing happens until I get out of my office.’ (Her office is @ home 🙂
The road gets narrower sometimes when you care. Because despite the warm hearts of many many people you will encounter along your spiritual path, much of the world is willing to turn away from the pain and suffering of much of the world. It feels so big and overwhelming to most people that it’s easier to just look the other way. There is a sense that we are powerless, voiceless, and that there’s nothing we can really do. So let’s make money. Let’s get a new job. A bigger house. A better car. Where can we go on vacation? How many organizations can we be a part of? There is a constant and profound need for distraction. And without sounding too much like a conspiracy theorist…I want to point out that that is a very convenient feeling for those people in this world who would like to see things stay exactly as they are. But someday you may arrive at a fork in the road of your sobriety when distraction (like drugs and alcohol) stops working. When you find that the more you empty yourself into some things, the less satisfactory they become.
And therein is the gift of practicing staying sober one day at a time and really beginning to know who you are. When you arrive there, you will know what to do. And if you don’t know what to do, you will know how to go to god with your restlessness. If you don’t find god when you go looking for answers, you will know to sit still, patiently, and wait. That all is well, and that you are loved. That this day, every day, is just the beginning.