One day last week, I was in the bathroom before a meeting. I washed my hands and fixed my hair. I saw myself and smiled. I got a rush of excitement. I was so glad to be there. That had never, ever happened at a meeting before. I suppose it was because I was proud of myself for going and grateful for how recovery had saved me, how it had dropped me there, alive. I suppose it was an in the moment kind of thing. I was happy, I was grateful, I had not often felt like that before, so I was excited.
Before recovery, I had no spirituality. I rarely felt connected to anything. Often, still, and always, then, I am a little boy who didn’t get asked a lot of questions. I think of all the work I’m doing, the meetings, the therapy, the meditation, the writing and talking – the work that I don’t think a lot of other people have to do, even though I see other people doing it all the time. I remember being a little kid, drawing on the floor of my bedroom, alone, remember staying up with a flashlight under my Duck Tales sheets and marking X’s on a calendar, of not wanting to go to sleep or wake up or face the next day. Later, I saw it in my writing. Everything I wrote was about despair. I sounded so disappointed, because I was. I believed I was doomed by my past. I had evidence for that belief. Nothing I had done before I was 18 ever made a difference in how I was treated. I still had to go to unsafe places. I still was not asked. I felt like I was outside the realm of human experience. I didn’t feel anything like connection until later, after 19, when I was drinking, when I was walking down the street with a buzz, with my headphones on.
The only way I could feel okay was to have an ever-growing list of accomplishments and achievements. I had a checklist instead of a life. Now, in recovery, I realize that I’m there in between the things I check off. I’m able to exist in the present moment, regardless of my resume or my looks or my past. I’m still connected, still human.
I start spinning on something now, something that I can’t get past, and the anxiety burns and twists in my chest. I think: How will this ever go away? And then I simply say: “This isn’t mine.” It’s something like turning it over to the care of the universe. It’s realizing I’m just one little part. It’s a relief. It’s a joy.