I am not my thoughts. I am not the moments that discourage me, that hurt me, that let me down. I am not even the moments that make me proud or happy. I am simply the soul and life that exists inside of me – that was granted to me by a power much greater than myself.
I have been trying, actively trying, to remain in the moment. What once sounded like a yoga mantra or a meditative tool from a self-help book – now means something much more simple. Enacted in my daily life it looks like this: awareness of the physical environment around me, 5 (or how ever many I need) deep, whole breaths, gratitude and release. I am trying.
I so often get caught up in the past, the future, the things I cannot change. I am so often tripped up by the incessant, discouraging, alcoholic thoughts that pass me by, usually without notice. I am learning, though, that I am not my thoughts. That the things that I think, I believe and those things are a choice that I do have – I do not HAVE to jump on board with every thought that my mind has throughout the day. If that was the case, I would likely not be sober today.
I’m learning that although I have come to terms with how dishonest I was with others, the hardest person to acknowledge and map out the lies I told – are the ones I told to myself. I continually catch myself lately, thinking that I don’t deserve a certain positive outcome or assuming the worst in a situation. I guess it could be called negative/positive thinking and shifting that – but for me it feels much more personal, more deep than that. For me, I genuinely have to believe it – and I’m starting to believe that life may just be wonderful and I may just deserve every wonderful moment within it. I deserve good things. I deserve happiness.
It helps me to think back to last Christmas, when I was just over a year sober, and I was confronted with a scary thought. Returning home from a family get together on Boxing Day Eve, I thought to myself “A glass of red wine would be so nice right now …” and it almost knocked me on my ass. I had no idea where it came from! I had been sober, happy and had no desire to drink for so long – why were these thoughts still in my head? The short answer is that I am an alcoholic. The longer answer is that, although I will always be an alcoholic and my mind will always have this disease, I do not have to succumb to it. I am doing the work in order to assure that this disease stays at bay. While I go throughout my life, now, I am not as afraid as I was during that first frightening recurrence. I have thoughts – but they are not me. They do not dictate my actions, but rather they inform me about what my own potential is. I can look at a thought like that and think “God, that’s terrifying – I might as well give up on this sobriety thing if these thoughts are never going to go away” .. OR – I can think, as I choose to today, “What a great reminder. For some reason, life got busy and I got distracted and I forgot that I was an alcoholic for a moment – there is my gentle reminder that those thoughts are there, and they are waiting if I choose to go back to them. The beautiful thing is that I have the tools, the willingness, the spirituality and the support now to know better is possible and to truly want that for myself.”
I didn’t believe that when I first started telling myself it – but I told myself anyway. And I prayed every night for the willingness to believe it, until I actually did! I can’t deny the effectiveness of asking your higher power (God or whatever you identify that to be) for the WILLINGNESS for something. That’s been an absolute lifesaver for me. I didn’t even have the willingness to acknowledge the existence of a higher power when I first got sober, so before I could start considering it’s existence, I prayed for the willingness to even get to that first step.
It’s not always easy, but choosing a sober life is a daily, 24 hour endeavor for me. I ask for help every single day. I try to work my program to the best of my ability. I am conscious of my motives and intentions. I am aware of that which helps me stay sober and that which may not. I try to give love and share the strength and support which I have been given. I have not given up. And to me, that is the greatest miracle of all, because I had given up totally, absolutely for the last 12 years.
I never thought this life was possible, so there’s no way a few random thoughts are going to derail this beautiful life that’s now available for the taking.
I like to come back to this reading often:
There are two days in every week about which we should not worry, two days which should be kept free from fear and apprehension.
One of these days is Yesterday with all its mistakes and cares,
Yesterday has passed forever beyond our control.
We cannot undo a single act we performed;
The other day we should not worry about is Tomorrow
Tomorrow’s sun will rise,
This leaves only one day, Today.
It is not the experience of Today that drives a person mad,
Let us, therefore, Live but one day at a time.