Saturday, July 6, 2013

I Can Easily Slide Down A Slippery Slope On My ‘But’

My aunt, bless her heart, is 98. She will complain about something and I will suggest a simple course of action for her. She’ll thank me and then – with a “but…”  – proceed to tell me why it doesn’t apply to her. Normally, I would attribute this to her advanced age, but she’s been this way for as long as I have known her. She always has an excuse. “Auntie, if you want to go to church and can’t drive, why don’t you call one of your friends and ask for a ride? It’s all right. Older, single women ask us for rides all the time.” She’ll reply, “I know people who do that, Donnie, but I couldn’t do that because my friend is married (…or a maiden lady, …or a widower, …or, or, or).”  Most of her excuses I never have understood. However, she sticks to them.
I’ve had people in AA for whom I was their temporary sponsor. I’d suggest things to them based on how those suggestions were given me and had helped my recovery. Many typical responses were: “Thank you, Don, but my situation is a little different. [I’m a woman, older, younger, not managerial….] so you just don’t understand.”
From Michael Z, Wisdom of the Rooms ( Before recovery, I was full of excuses.…The bottom line was that I could always place the blame outside of myself…. “My sponsor told me that when making an amend or an apology, I was to focus strictly on my part, ask if there were any other wrongs I was unaware of, and then ask what I could do to make things better. "You've done enough damage," I can still hear him tell me. ‘Whatever you do - Don't ruin your apology with an excuse.’"
I’m pretty good – very good, actually – at finding ways to blame others, situations, or events for perceived “wrongs” in my life.  You cannot become as good a practicing alcoholic as I was without learning to place blame anywhere I could, except, of course, at my own feet.
However, I do believe that behind all the “buts” in the world is the common misconception that we’re all unique. We’re not unique! We are distinct, but not unique. Ask any health care professional where your liver is. They’ll point to your middle right side. Each person. All the time. No exceptions. We’re each distinct. Not unique.
I thought I was not like everybody else, and I fought that a long, long time – mostly during my drinking years. Rules applied to everyone else, but not me. Strategies worked for everyone else, but not for me because my situation was different. Divorces worked better for others than for me. On and on.
In AA I learned how much better my life became when I simply did what it was suggested that I do… followed the rules like everybody else… paid my bills and adjusted my belt accordingly… kept interested parties informed of progress (or lack of progress)… kept my car maintained rather than driving on bald tires, with paper-thin brakes and wipers that were scratching my windshield. Mostly, by doing these things, I learned that it’s not bad simply being one of the herd. In fact it was quite unstressful. Now I relish that. I’m not special or unique. I’m just normal – a normal recovering alcoholic with a growing awareness of a spirituality that has become the glue that holds me together.  
I really liked studying A Course in Miracles (ACIM) – one class a week. Then, after two years, I decided to do the daily lessons, which were strongly suggested from the start. So, I asked myself – why didn’t I do these from the onset, as I was encouraged to do? I’m still a slow learner, I guess. As I have done these lessons, the vibrancy of the Course has begun to come alive: It comes pretty easily to me now to tell myself:
  • ·      “I’m never upset for the reason I think” (Lesson 5), which makes me remember AA’s Fourth Step and to focus on what’s really going on inside me.
  • ·      “I see only the past. My mind is preoccupied with past thoughts. I see nothing as it is now” (Lessons 7,8,9) and I realize that was then and this is Now.
  • ·      “I am determined to see things differently” (Lesson 21) and I ask the Holy Spirit to open my eyes truly.

In short, when I’ve gotten off my “but,” my life has turned around. Sometimes it happens slowly – although many, many times the turnaround happens very, very quickly.
How about you?
Although these messages are mostly for me, thanks for listening. As always – feel free to forward this message to your friends, family, and those accompanying you on your spiritual journey.
#1 July, 2013
Copyright, 2013

No comments:

Post a Comment