Something has happened this week to make me feel sad, reflective and fearful. There is nothing that I can do to change it, whatever it might be – events and their outcomes are totally out of my control and they will inevitably bring big changes to my life.
Faced with this my initial reaction was to recall all the things that I’ve learnt in recovery; namely that I cannot control everything, what is meant to be will be and that my reaction to events are the only thing within the scope of my control. So I bounded home, bad news in my head and presented a chipper Matt to all I came across.
That is until one of those people did not say the thing I wanted them to say when I presented them with the news. The outrage! They even suggested that MY reaction was selfish! “Hang on though” I thought to myself, “this is all happening to ME!” And there it was, the first hurdle and I fall right back into my old pattern of thinking. Next I’ve internalised; it’s me against the world. No one can help me, no one cares. They think they have it bad? Look what’s happening to me!
Within an hour I’ve lost all sense of proportion and I am wallowing in a pool of pity.
Then that little voice inside my head, that which some of you call God, others a Higher Power (and that I have decided should remain nameless and shapeless), found a momentary gap in my mental ranting to shout out “get thee to a meeting!”
I dropped everything and, reluctantly, dragged myself to an 8pm meeting, resenting every moment of the drive there, scowling at the offers of coffee and cake when I arrived and feeling irritated by the bright strobe lighting and poor acoustics of the room! Then the meeting begins and the sharer starts with “Please excuse me, but I must leave my phone on as my mother is dying of cancer and I have just left her bedside to share with you”.
In an instant my bad news has a new perspective applied to it. No one is dying because of my news, no one will die because of it. No one will starve or become homeless. Only my pride will be hurt and only control will be taken away from me.
Then the share continues; people talk about the importance of calling on other alcoholics when in difficulty or facing adversity. I am reminded that tonight, even when I thought I was doing all the right things it hadn’t occurred to me to call my sponsor or any of my friends in AA. I posted about it on Twitter, but I didn’t even engage in conversations with the people I am close to there, initially at least.
I left the meeting and called my sponsor. We talked for half-an-hour and I felt like I had given away my problems and found a way of rationalising them. Then I went home and made amends to my partner who I had raged at earlier, bringing not an Olive branch but some Chinese food.
And so another day and another lesson. I will never stop learning and I am so grateful for that gift.