“You are watching people go through withdrawal from emotional addiction to the myth of certainty.” – – Ashley C. Ford
I will proudly say it took some time for my dam to burst but I have finally succumbed to an attack of Coviditis. There is little comfort in not being alone. The pressures of being put into a hugely different work schedule, no live Al-Anon or AA meetings and not enough other self care have led to a blowout with a neighbor in my building, and an overall feeling of depression. What brought on the rift was repeated door slamming by a guy one door down from me. I decided to confront him once and for all as he passed my apartment one day last week. Little did I know he had our landlord on his phone and she heard the entire conversation. Fortunately I didn’t do anything close to threatening but was still rewarded with a call about getting along with neighbors. Truth be known, the issue has been a ticking time bomb in me for over a month, and though I ended up splattering the walls with my ego, it was finally resolved.
I know I’m putting conditions on my recovery but to display this kind of behavior after being in various programs as long as I have got to feeling just plain shameful. And I’ve carried it around since the incident with my neighbor last week. So I’ve been the proverbial frog in the boiling pot. My savvy young boss noticed how out of sorts I was yesterday and she promptly changed up my schedule to have today off so I could do a little re-tooling. For a long time now I’ve thought of the “no room at the inn” story as the equivalent of a mind dominated by an ego that doesn’t allow the still small voice in. As someone pointed out to me today in Courage To Change, “there is no room in a shame-filled mind.” So maybe I just brought myself to new starting point of knowing there is another way of looking at the world. Recovery does move in cycles.
Step two suggests to me that belief and sanity are related. A belief is nothing more than a thought or group of thoughts repeated over and over again. During my “social distancing” my mind has become a dangerous place to be over repeated musing of the self pity kind – I have to endure this noise, I’m never going to see anyone I know again because of my work schedule, why am I not a millionaire writer, blah, blah, blah. So the practicing of these thoughts has resulted in a belief that I view the world from and automatically act out of. Basically, I’ve gotten to looking at the world through shit-colored glasses. Thank God beliefs can be changed.
One of the blessings of my recent experiences is that “aha” moment of remembering there is an eternal peace available in me. It never left, I just forgot It was there. Before I even begin practicing Its presence I need to remember that Its there. Re-member. To become a member again. To practice the title of Kent Nerburn’s book Make Me An Instrument Of Your Peace. My friend David once had a group that was reading this book. As a new member joined he let David know how excited he was to start reading Make Me A Piece Of Your Instrument. Obviously something got lost in the translation. Lately, I know the feeling.
Hope is a strong theme in the Stephen King novella The Shawshank Redemption. In the movie one of my favorite scenes shows an imprisoned Ellis Boyd Redding reading a letter from his friend Andy DuFresne, a letter Andy sent after escaping from Shawshank. He finishes it with “And remember Red, hope is a good thing. Maybe the best of things. And a good thing never dies.” One definition of the word hope reads “a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.” My hope is for a stronger feeling of peace in myself and everyone I know. I agree with one of my old sponsors that recovery is an inside job. And also that the external world is a manifestation of our collective ego in all of its grotesque glory. I also choose to believe that a spark inside of me started the ball rolling in purging me of another layer of insanity. I am a contributor in good standing to the craziness of the world. By the same token, taking the baby steps outlined for me over and over again by people much wiser than me, I can little by little, one day at a time, be restored to my real Self, or at least closer to it.
Like Ellis Boyd Redding in Shawshank, “I hope that I can make it across the border. I hope to meet my Friend and shake his hand. I hope that the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams. I hope.” And I’ve been in recovery long enough that not only do I hope, I know. Another biblical analogy has Jesus calming the stormy sea after waking from a nap. Could that be a metaphor of his follower’s faith being asleep until they finally turned to him for help? How ironic that the human body is approximately seventy percent water. So from the hope of a peaceful mind springs the peace itself. I doubt that I will never have conflict in my life again, but for the time being I think I’ve countered the folly of acting like a Covidiot. As strange as it may sound, I guess due to the “new normal,” it’s easy for me to forget that we are all under much more pressure than normal. Yes, I am grateful that I’m still employed. Yes, I am grateful to be alive. I am also grateful that being human allows for making mistakes. We’re all making them. And we’re all making it through this.