Even though I am recovered, I’m still recovering.

I am recovered.  Recovered from all the obsessive thoughts and compulsive acting out that kept me mired in my addiction.

But that is not the end of it.  In fact, it’s only the beginning.

The 12 Steps is a life-time commitment that involves taking a daily inventory of yourself.  It’s like peeling away layers of an onion:  Each time you become aware of a character defect and let go of it, you peel back a layer of the ‘onion’ only to discover another layer beneath – another aspect of your personality that needs to be healed.

Don’t be lulled into the belief that ‘recovered’ means it’s over.  Anyone who feels smug about their recovery – the fact that they’re ‘recovered’ – doesn’t understand the process.  These are the ones who launch into Step 12, and completely ignore Steps 10 and 11.

Even though I have recovered, I am still recovering.

I will continue to take personal inventory of myself – each and every day.  I will continue to improve my conscious contact with God – moment by moment.  Steps 10 and 11 will continue for the rest of my life.

Spiritual perspiration

I’ve taken up jogging lately.

My aging body disagrees with all of it.  So do I, quite frankly.  But I’ve decided to do it because I know that it’s necessary for me to lose weight and remain healthy.

Of course, I’m taking it slow for now.  At my age, a guy could get injured!  No one said it has to be torturous – I’m happy just to be moving… one step at a time.

But how did I reach this decision?  I got started by:

  1. Noticing how tired I am all the time
  2. Listening to my doctor’s advice
  3. Deciding on a course of action
  4. Taking my first step now – not later!
  5. Keeping it simple
  6. Getting help from another person

Every morning I awaken at 6am, jump into my running gear and head on out the door.  This requires commitment and perseverance.

I don’t always want to get up early and go jogging.  When I first awaken, it’s sometimes difficult to remember why I’m doing this painful exercise.  But I do it anyway because I made a decision to do so.  I am committed to the effort – the perspiration.

Just like my jogging commitment, I also made a commitment to recovery.  I don’t always feel like it, but I am committed to the steps; and I make the effort.

It takes spiritual effort to remain in recovery.  There is an “everydayness” to recovery that requires our personal commitment and perseverance.  It’s the “doing” side of recovery work – the action steps that need to be executed everyday – that involves my spiritual perspiration.

“It’s now or never”

If you want something, it’s never enough to merely long for it.

Dreaming about what you desire is all fine and good, but it isn’t going to get you to where you want to go.  Getting what you want requires action.

That’s why the 12 steps were developed.  They’re action steps that must be taken in order for the addict to experience successful and permanent recovery.

I have worked with addicts who want what I have.  They have told me so.  But when it comes right down to it, they’re not ready to work the steps.

I recall what was said to me when I resisted and floundered in my half-recovery.  I was told to begin now – not tomorrow – now.  Gosh.  Don’t I get to think about it some more?  Don’t I need to go to more meetings?  What do you mean, “I’ve got to start now?”

Recovery is not granted to those who procrastinate.  The ‘spiritual awakening’ is granted to those who take action now.  Now is the time to begin.  If you wait for a more convenient time, it will never come.

Recovery is a life and death struggle… it’s now or never!

Accept life on life’s terms

I burn up a lot of energy trying to fix my day.  From the moment I get into my car and head for work to the time I arrive home from the office, I’m burning up energy.

Most of the time I’m not aware of it.  I’ve gotten so used to it – trying to improve my life and its circumstances – that I don’t realize what I’m doing.

We all do it.  We don’t like what’s going on, and try to fix it.  We don’t like the way the way the car ahead of us is moving.  People at work shouldn’t be so inconsiderate.  Why is that client so annoying?

I’m not talking about the bitching and the complaining that many of us do; that’s just a symptom of the real problem.  What’s really going on?

It’s called resistance.  We resist what is.

“He shouldn’t be so arrogant!”  “Why can’t she be more pleasant?”  “I can’t believe what just happened.”  We carry on this inner dialogue with ourselves all day long.

Sometimes I try to ‘fix’ other people by giving them advice on how to behave!  And, when they won’t listen to my ‘expert’ opinion I really crank it up a notch.  That’s when my inner dialogue goes into overdrive.

Sometimes I get home from work, and I’m exhausted!  I’ve burned up almost all my energy because I’ve spent the day resisting… everything.

Resisting is what got us into our addiction in the first place. ‘Acting out’ is a form of resistance.  Shutting down – checking out – escaping reality – it was all about resisting how we felt.

If you are in recovery, you are learning to accept life on life’s terms.

Trust the process

“One day at a time” is the first slogan I learned to repeat as I started 12 step recovery.

I never really knew what it meant except that I had to stay sober “for one day.”  I was taught that yesterday is gone, and you can’t get it back… you can’t un-ring the bell.  And the future is yet un-born.  In fact, the future doesn’t exist (unless you believe in a parallel universe.)

Over time, I became more aware of this moment, right now.  I understand that this present moment is all we have.  Past and future exist only in my head.  What’s real is right now.

Even though I understand all this intellectually, I have a problem living it.

Living in the moment is hard to do because I’m still lost inside my head.  And when I get lost inside my head, I have trouble staying in this present moment.

“One day at a time” is not an abstract idea:  It needs to be acted upon – right now!

I think one of the things that trip me up along the way is my lack of faith.  I have trouble believing that living one day at a time is going to get me where I want to go.

In a nut shell, I need to trust in the process of recovery.

‘One day at a time’ is the foundation of this process of recovery.  When I start to feel anxious, I take my inventory to find out why.  It’s usually about something that hasn’t happened yet – something I need to have, or something I’m afraid will happen.