The Boon and the Bane: Boon and Bane; Blessing and Curse these they bring me joy and they steal my joy. Gratitude and Resentment; thoughts and feelings that free me and that imprison me; inviting me to be a better me and trapping me in the shame of a life seeming unfulfilled. Replete with wonder one moment and consumed by abject despair the next. It helps when I remember that I know joy because I’ve felt sorrow.
It is official: we are all in collective trauma. There is really no point in being competitive about it, although, for economic reasons, many people are worse off than others. However, it is good to acknowledge that at this particular time, we are all threatened.
The couple of months before my sober anniversary, I’m usually intensely introspective and reflective. Oft it leads to a degree of self-shaming as I remember weekends and weeks lost to alcohol binges, letting my family down, especially the worry that I know that I caused, the possibilities of a career that at times seems as though it fell short, and more.
Sober, I’ve developed several practices, ways of being that I was unable to consistently use before. Awareness was, and can still be a source of anxiety for me. Sometimes, life’s pressures push me closer and closer to that familiar edge from which I once fell.
Just taking the first free breath at a recovery meeting can be liberating. A second breath, at a Secular Recovery meeting, often involves an exhalation of words and phrases where both thought and expression is freed from any intimations of the divine and the implied restrictions, often encountered elsewhere, of someone else’s arbitrary list of “things to do” that may be vital for them but may be of no use to you.
When I stopped drinking alcohol almost 13 years ago, I was left to face fears, anxiety, regret, guilt, shame and depression. It was overwhelming. The universe that I had lived in for so long was quite small, often a room with curtains drawn and the ringer and e-mail/text notifications off.
I tell you the saloon is a coward. It hides itself behind stained-glass doors and opaque windows, and sneaks its customers in a blind door, and keeps a sentinel to guard the door from the officers of the law . . . it strikes in the night.
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) suggests that “selfishness - self-centeredness” (p.62) is the root cause of the alcoholic’s problems. That they are “driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self-seeking and self-pity.” (1)
I sometimes worry I cross the line. I like my lines bold, thick, and clear. I identified as agnostic at about 8 years old as a child in a devout Southern Baptist family and community.