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Archive for August, 2011

“When one door shuts, God opens another”

I’m pretty sure most people know the cliche, but it sure is damn hard to swallow at times. Although the traditional form of this saying is fine with me, when I’m trying to reassure myself, I more often prefer to phrase it this way:

“Things *always* work out”

That’s not to say that things work out the way I want them or in the way that I think is best. But every event, every problem, every time we find ourselves in limbo, it eventually comes to some resolution. What that resolution is, though, isn’t up to me. But it IS up to me to accept the resolution so I can move forward with my life.

It would be easy to come back and say, “But sometimes I don’t ever get an answer. Sometimes things aren’t ever resolved. Sometimes I don’t get closure. Sometimes things just hang out there…”

I think all of us have situations like that in our lives. One of the biggest for me is (to make a long story short) the state of 90% of my material possessions that disappeared in 2004 when my “best friend” took off without returning it. There are quite a few things I’ve never had answers for: why exactly she left, why she never told me which storage place my stuff was in, what has happened to my stuff since (I’m thinking a “Storage Wars”-esque auction”), and how my “best friend” could brazenly betray me the way she did.

For years I struggled with these questions, until I could accept that this event wasn’t going to work out the way I wanted. But, if I let it, the situation had resolved itself with the conclusion that I would likely never know the answers to those questions. So it was up to me to let it go and move on. And when I did this I was able to let go of the anguish, learn from the situation, and change how I responded to life in the future.

And this, I believe, is how I have to deal with disappointment in my life. I bring up this topic because yesterday I had one of those moments that, once it resolved, wasn’t the way I had hoped. In fact, I had been REALLY hoping it would work out in my favor. But it didn’t. So, I gave myself time to be upset and disappointed for a bit and then I moved on. Am I still a bit annoyed that I have to change my plans, yep. I struggle with rigidity and needing to plan ahead for things. But I’ve accepted that there is nothing I can do to change the situation as it resolved yesterday and I’ve begun the process of constructing a new plan of attack.

People have been telling me the cliche at the top of this post… and apparently I am supposed to wait for a new door to open, but even that might not be the case. I might just have to be ok with the fact that I was disappointed and that I’m going to have to do something else (something that is not as exciting as what the original thing might have been). But that is ok and I can be ok with that.

It only holds me back if I dwell on what “might have been” or I get stuck in my disappointment. When something resolves itself in a way that is less that preferred by me I can take it as it is and I can do something else. It is never the end of things; it is only a minor roadblock that leads me in a new direction. Its ok. Everything works out.

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Its been a while since I’ve been here… I guess I’m not living up to the idea I had for myself when I started this blog (i.e. that I would write multiple times per week). But life happens and the past month or so has been one event after another that have been emotionally and physically taxing. And in the effort to take things one at a time by doing what is in front of me, other things have had to be pushed aside for the time being. And that is ok.

I finished my 4th step and completed my 5th step a couple weeks ago. It was the second time I’ve done one and I learned a lot about myself and events that have happened in my life. It amazed me the value of having an outside perspective on my life; my sponsor made connections and saw patterns that I would have never seen in a million years. And through that I was finally able to fully accept some of the awful things that happened in their entirety. I still have a lot of work to do. Some glaring character defects were exposed and some deep seeded resentments came out that I’m struggling to become “willing” to let go of.

But, as the subject suggests, I don’t want to focus on my 5th step but on the appreciation I gained for a wise, involved, attentive, and experienced sponsor. This is my second sponsor and she is polar opposite of my first. Leah (names are changed) was laid back and let me take the lead; Jane has laid down firm guidelines from the first day I asked her to be a sponsor. Leah was only a couple years older than me; Jane is just about the same age as my mom. Leah listened to my 5th step without saying a word; Jane stopped me on nearly everyone and challenged me to look deeper. Leah started our first meeting by having me tell my story; Jane has learned about me through our meetings and developed a sense of my past through the work in the steps (I’ve never sat down and “told my story” to her).

Neither method of sponsoring is better or worse than the other, it all just depends on what works for the sponsee. And for me, the structure and very specific responsibilities/assignments that Jane gave me worked better. Without the support of Jane, and the preliminary work we did before crisis struck, I would not have made it through my fiancee’s relapse and overdose. Without Jane’s candid stories of her own life I would not have been able to talk about and process through my trauma. Without the ongoing assignments and explicit direction of what I needed to do and when I needed to do it, I would not have learned as much as I did from her.

I was able to stay sober without a good sponsor, but the quality of my sobriety was much lower. I didn’t have a sounding board and I didn’t have anyone telling me that my thoughts were crazy (which most of the time they are). I got into my head and my recovery stagnated. I was unable to move forward on my own, because I didn’t know what moving forward was. This, I think, is the key element of a good sponsor: They are someone who is further along than you and is someone who can show you how to get there.

So, whether a person in recovery decides to go the traditional 12 Step route of a sponsor or a mentor who is living the life we want, having a person who “has what we want” is vital to moving forward in this total reconstruction of our lives.

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