Saturday, June 4, 2011

Off To A Rough Start

This morning I had a very unhappy conversation with my sponsor.  By unhappy I mean that I called in being in a pretty good, happy mood and got off the phone on the verge of tears.  For those of you who don’t know me, that is VERY unusual.  Crying is akin to running naked through a shopping mall for me…it just isn’t done.  Why the emotional 180° turn around?  My sponsor told me off.

Of course she told me off with great civility and calmness, but I felt emotionally thrashed none-the-less. So here’s the scenario:  I have been in Portland for almost three weeks. I am staying at someone else’s house, living someone else’s life. This is not a bad thing. In fact, it has been wonderful in so many ways. But the reality is that it is much harder to do certain things when you are away from home and out of your normal routine—like work your recovery program.

So, I got up this morning figuratively patting myself on the back for what a good job I have been doing with my food here. My mistake was to casually mention to my sponsor that I hadn’t listened to a phone meeting yesterday like I had planned. She was all over that. As the conversation moved along, she wasn’t sure she could keep sponsoring me. She felt she was just hearing excuses and “disease” talking. I wasn’t willing to do what she asked and put my recovery program first. etc. etc. etc, blah-blah blah-blah-blah.

That was just not what I had been expecting to hear. What about giving me a little verbal affirmation?  Why not acknowledge that I had done pretty well considering the circumstances? Or how about at least a little understanding of why I couldn’t seem to fit the phone meeting in with picking up after four active kids, running them to and from dance classes, cooking dinner, potty-training, dishes (okay…and I will admit, also a lovely evening getting a pedicure and manicure with my daughter….)

When I got over feeling like I had to cry I settled in for a brief period of just being resentful. She was the bad guy. I was the victim. I didn’t notice that was my thinking, but my all-wise daughter was fairly blunt at pointing it out: “Mom, that is addict talk I am hearing from you. ‘Poor me. I am trying so hard and she doesn’t even acknowledge it. She expects me to be perfect’”.  My daughter went on to point out that you can tell when someone is “not in recovery” by the fact that they feel like they are victimized by someone else’s callused lack of understanding.  In contrast, someone who is in recovery will listen openly, hear the truth and make the appropriate course corrections without defensiveness. Well, I head already tangled with two people who were being less than sympathetic to my plight and the day had harding begun yet.

It would have been so much easier to stay resentful had I not realized they were both right. I was making excuses. I wasn’t putting recovery first. My addict-behavior was prodding me to turn things around so I was the victim and they were the bad guys. I was forgetting that my sponsor’s reason for spending time on the phone with me every morning is not because she is bored, has nothing to do, or secretly wants to torture me. She is merely trying to share her experience, strength and hope in a such way that I can find and keep recovery.

So, I let go of the impulse to eat everything I could find just out of spite. I stayed with my food plan today, and after I put the kids to bed I actually listened to a couple of recorded online meetings.  She is right—my life is one long string of exceptions and extenuating circumstances. I have to put recovery first all the time…not just when I am comfortably sitting at home with nothing else to distract me. Good lesson learned. Just for today I will try to be grateful for people who are willing to say what I need to hear instead of what I want to hear. The truth really can set us free.

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