I have succeeded simply because I refused to give in to my immediate want. I choose the word want because it masquerades as a need, but it’s really just a want.
At this juncture in my life I see, clearly … I have what I need. If I don’t have it I don’t need it. If I choose to have it in my life I will find a way to make it happen. If it is meant to be in my life the Universe will conspire with my greatest good and it will manifest.
If I want more strength, I will get opportunities to push myself.
If I want more integrity, I will get opportunities to not gossip.
If I want more money, I will get opportunities to step out of my comfort zone.
If I want more love, I will be given opportunities to give more of my heart.
I see this similar pattern unfolding for those in early sobriety (it applied to me too). I’d experience a little bit of pain, difficulty, or challenge and I’d choose to run back to the bottle. I knew there would be hell to pay—I’d do it anyway.
Sobriety (even good sobriety) doesn’t relieve me of this thought process. If anything it exacerbates it. At least when I drank I could blame the booze. There is no one to blame when sober. We have no excuses. And this is one reason we drink again. We can’t stand being responsible. We don’t want to have to own who we are, who we have become. We know how to hide behind the fallibility of too many cocktails and play victim to our disease.
It’s pathetic, in the true sense of the word—that pitiful sense. I say this as an addict. I was pathetic. I was so absorbed in self and my wants that I could barely see another’s challenges. And to boot, I thought I was full of compassion. I mean to say … I felt I was a really wonderful woman.
For alcoholics, a life well lived is about no longer hiding behind the rewards of alcohol. We all know that not all the moments are bad. If they were all bad we’d have stopped. There is still a reward; a small moment of satisfaction in that drink. And for that moment we are willing to pay any price.
I have learned infinity more about me as I have remained sober. You couldn’t have successfully told me ten years ago about the joy I feel today. I can honestly say, I would have denied the possibility. I was pitiful, limited, in my capacity to see life so fully.
I did my long weekend cycle yesterday. I chose one of the hardest hills. From bottom to top it takes to the count of 250 to reach the peak. I am ready to quit the ride at the count of 25, but I can’t. I won’t. I won’t because my feet are strapped into my shoes and my shoes are clipped to my pedals. It requires more mental effort to fall than it does to persevere through the pain. So I persevere. I reach the count of 100. I can barely imagine I will make it, but I arrive at 101 and then 102. I breathe in strength and love. I breathe out pain. I focus on the pavement moving directly underneath me and not on the remaining hill that I’ve yet to climb.
There seems no way I can make it. Yet, there seems no way I can stop—successfully. Again I breathe. Again, I accept the strength that I cannot say with certainty where it comes from. I accept it with an open mind like the ocean accepts the moon’s pull to generate Earth’s tides. I reach the 125 mark on my count. I am half way there. For whatever pain I have endured, I have less than that until I reach the summit.
I push through to 200 on my count. I have not yet arrived, but victory is apparent. While it is still grueling, the apex is beginning to flatten into view. I have pure joy knowing that the end is near. I reach 250. The bike responds to gravity. I move effortlessly down the hill.
The signal turns red. My unclipped feet touch the ground. I sip some icy cool water. The surging pain is passing.
In these four minutes I have learned:
- That pain won’t kill me, even when it hurts—really bad.
- There will be another weekend, another hill—it will hurt. I’ll be fine.
- I get stronger with each climb.
- Just because I want to quit doesn’t mean I need to quit.
- Quitting isn’t an option.
- Water tastes better on the summit than it does on my couch.
Beginner’s tip: Don’t give up on you, just because there is pain.