“’It seems to me that I have always been waiting for
something better—sometimes to see the best I had always snatched from me.’
~Dorothy Reed Mendenhall
Gratitude for what is prepares us for the blessings just
around the corner. What is so necessary to understand is that our wait for
what’s around the corner closes our eyes to the joys of the present moment…We
can, each of us, look back on former days, realizing that we learned too late
the value of a friend or an experience…When we detach from the present and wait
for tomorrow…we are stunting our spiritual growth. Life can only bless us now,
one breath at a time.”
Attitude is everything in my life. I have losses. Everyone
does. I can waste time regretting the past or projecting into an uncertain
future. Today I can keep my feet planted on the ground and open my eyes. This
is how I choose to live. My recovery program has assured me that I will always
have choices, and I can only try to do the next right thing.
“True recovery takes place when I step out on faith and
carry out…new behavior. Then I know a small portion of me has grown. When I
take action based on introspection and meditation, I push my recovery
boundaries further. I know if I keep on this path I will always keep
growing…Outward action must follow inner work to truly take root in my life.”
Insight into ourselves is valuable, but unless we do the
footwork to change what may be necessary, our insight isn’t enough. Just for
today I will try to grow toward the light.
“’Life is patchwork—here and there, pleasure and despair,
Joined together, hit or miss.’ ~Anne Bronaugh
As you look ahead to this day, you can count on unexpected
experiences. You can count on moments of laughter. And you can count on twinges
of fear. Life is seldom what we expect, but we can trust that we will survive
the rough times. They will, in fact, soften our edges. Pleasure and pain share
equally in the context of our lives.
We so easily forget that our growth comes from the
challenges we label “problems.” We do
have the tools at hand to reap the benefits inherent in the problems that may
face us today. Let us move gently forward, take the program with us, and watch
the barriers disappear.”
If we remain steeped in sorrow, are we receptive to joy? If
all goes well for us, are we prepared for the valleys? There will always be a
mix of both in our lives. The trick is to find a balance and not be overwhelmed
by either emotion. To be able to say, “Okay today was not a good day, but I’m
confident tomorrow will be a good day.”
“Growing up in an alcoholic home gave me ample preparation
to become a perfectionist. Almost nothing I did as a youth was ever right.
Inside I felt rage at never meeting my parents’ expectations. I promised myself
I would do things differently. By the time I reached my thirties, however, I
could hear my parents’ critical voices speaking through me. I knew I was using
the same words spoken to me.”
I could have written that myself. And I’m so grateful for
the awareness I’ve picked up from my years of recovery. In the early years of
my daughter Angie’s addiction, I was oppressive in my attempts to get her to
“buckle under and shape up.” What? Would I use those words if she had cancer or
any other disease?
I got quite an education in the rooms of recovery, first of
all in accepting that drug addiction is a brain disease. The American Medical
Association has been saying that since the 1950’s, but who was listening? With that awareness, there was no room in my
heart for judgment or criticism. Only
compassion, understanding, and love.
Now, if I have any interaction with Angie, all that I say or
do springs from the heart of a mother. I love my child. Some things are
beautiful in their simplicity.
“Angie told me once that that’s why she hated NA meetings: often in attendance were drug addicts not in recovery, people she needed to avoid. But in her case I don’t think that’s true. I think she didn’t go to meetings because she needed to deal with her addiction her way, and not be told by anyone else what to do: CSR—compulsively self-reliant—just like her mother.
Or maybe she just wasn’t ready to
embrace recovery at all, a painful possibility I had not yet considered. I was
still determined, at that point, to believe that she was going to beat her
addiction and that I, of course, would be the glorious savior she would spend
the rest of her life thanking, handing me my redemption on a silver platter.
I would finally, thank God, let go
of the oppressive burden I was placing on my daughter by demanding she get well
so that I could be OK. My mother unconsciously did the same thing with her
children: she was a demanding perfectionist, beating back the pain of
self-doubt and unworthiness by raising “successful” children. I’m very glad to
have found recovery from my dysfunctional upbringing. It has helped to “relieve me of the bondage of self” (Anonymous
Press 63). And most importantly, most importantly of all, my recovery has
freed my children.”
You can find my book, A Mother’s Story: Angie Doesn’t Live Here
Anymore, by Maggie C. Romero (pseudonym) on Amazon.