Wednesday, July 15, 2009
When all is well
I've learned that serenity is one of those benefits of being in recovery. But it isn't like breathing--it isn't totally involuntary. There are times when I feel peaceful, serene and all is well with me. Yet, I know that the next day I may wake up and have the old fears and anxieties churning in my gut.
At the meeting last night, a fellow who had asked me to work with him on the steps over a year ago showed up. I hadn't seen him in a year because we never actually got to have a face to face meeting to start step work because he was always busy. He would make up excuses about why we couldn't get together. I called him a few times but would receive no answer. When I finally did talk to him last year, he told me that his daughter was no longer using and all seemed to be going well. He didn't need the program any more.
Last night, he looked like a different person. I didn't recognize him at first. He had gained about 50 pounds, was anxious, desperate and hurting. He told me that things had been going so well for about a year. His daughter was working and seemed to be doing great. He had sent her some money and after that had a suspicion that she was using again. She has now gone back out, lost her job and is a mess.
He told me the ironic thing was that about a week ago before he learned of her relapse, he was cleaning out a desk draw and found his Al-Anon book. He threw it in the trash because his daughter was doing so well. Now he has come back to meetings, clawing his way to them like a drowning person does to a life ring.
I think that what this man told me is a warning that I need to remember. When things are going really well with me, I can tend to become a bit complacent. I may decide to skip a meeting or two. I may not step up to volunteer for service work. I may not be as passionate about working with sponsees.
And if I let that complacency go too far, then I'm setting myself up to lose my perspective and balance. I will think everything is rosy and wonderful when things are going smoothly. But let something happen to break my smugness, and all the resentment, fear and host of other defects will come roaring back at me like a runaway train.
I have come to realize that there are no guarantees that I will remain sane and serene because I have had peace once in a while. I need this program 24/7. I find that if I don't have any contact with the program, I tend to start sliding back into old attitudes. I start to obsess, to judge, to get smug and self righteous. I like myself better if I stay in program mode and don't get caught with my "program down".