I consider myself lucky in recovery. I don’t go through withdrawals. I don’t obsess about not drinking. When difficult situations are before me, I don’t default to thinking about checking out. I don’t have cravings.
However, what I do find hindering my growth and progress in recovery is living in my own head. Spending too much time with my “stuff.” If I remain entrenched in my brain, languishing around with all the stuff I’ve accumulated, chewing on all the thoughts and emotions that constantly bombard it, I know that I remain in a fixed position; I am not moving forward.
You see, my head is where all the stuff is. And, by nature, I think we alcoholics love our stuff. We surround ourselves with it. We constantly look at it, hold it, take it with us wherever we go. Our stuff is familiar, it’s strangely comforting. It’s what we know. We just want to think about and be around our stuff all day.
Here’s the problem: if I don’t start giving some of this stuff away, I will remain imprisoned by it. If I don’t start getting new stuff, I’ll always be stuck in reverse. If I don’t at least share my stuff, then what they say in AA starts to be all too real: I will remain “as sick as your [my] secrets.”
So I’m working on getting rid of some of this stuff. It’s taking up too much space. It’s not allowing me to make room for new stuff. Time for new stuff like appreciation for myself, empathy and tolerance of others. Time for appreciating the wonders of nature, for positive thoughts and behaviors. Revolutionary thoughts like loving myself, living life on life’s terms, letting go of the past. Time for forgiving myself, for being ok with my emotions as they come, for letting go of anger and resentments.
Until I step outside myself, until I embrace real recovery, I will end up with just a bunch of dusty old antiques. Antiques keep us tied to the past. Antiques color the world with romantic notions of how life was, or seemingly is; hues that can be deceptive, inaccurate, deceiving.
No, today I will try to trash some of my stuff; I will try to get rid of at least one piece. And, if I can’t manage that, I will at least put my stuff away. Not ignore it, not bury it in another place, just put it down for the day. I will try to notice the bare branches of December. I will strike up a conversation with a stranger.
I will kick my feet through a random pile of leaves. I will get out of my head and be present in the moments that make up my day. I will put my stuff on the shelf and put myself out there. I will live outside myself, even just for a few moments.
And that’s good stuff! That’s the stuff that will slowly change my label from “recovering” to “recovered.” I’ve already gotten rid of the label “alcoholic” now it’s time to get at the clutter and change another one. Once and for all. Permanently.