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Old 04-08-2012, 10:23 PM   #1 (permalink)
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What Do We Want? A New Beginning?


What Do We Want? A New Beginning?
Easter is about to end. For others Passover may have drawn to a close. I am not what you might call a conventional believer. I rarely go to church. I admit I cannot accept or understand some of the traditional teachings. But increasingly, as i grow older (shortly I shall be 85) and as life becomes more of a challenge with advancing years, I feel a growing need for some kind of faith. Perhaps not a conventional God; perhaps only the faint but very real sense of a spiriritual reality, sometimes accessible in great art, music, sunsets, or the eyes of someone who cares, perhaps even a puppy or occasionally a cat. An alternate reality and perhaps a guardian sent down to watch over us, like the boddhisatva known to the Buddhists. My favorite grandfather died in 1939, my dad in 1956, my sister in 1968, her son in 1971, my mother in 1997. My family, all gone now,most of them for over forty years. And yet, when I think of all the near disasters that might have resulted from my drinking, when I wonder how somehow I survived, sober for nearly 23 years, and how that has made possible for me to do the things i’ve done in the 15 years since I retired, I feel somehow that I may have been destined to this all along or at least that I have been given a second chance.
For, in the end, isn’t that what an alcoholic really wants. An end to the slavery of addiction and, after that, a second chance, some relief from guilt, the return of self respect? Maybe still a third if the second should fail.
An end to the addiction and a second chance. Can anything possibly be more important than that?

W.
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Old 04-08-2012, 10:34 PM   #2 (permalink)
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The 2nd chance is the only reason why I stopped, its what keeps me going and what brought me here. I put off life to drink instead, it interfered with everything and that had to stop. I am closing in on 3 months now and I've never felt this good, productive, energetic, healthy or enthusiastic about the future in my entire life and my old life will soon be UN-recognizable due to the changes I've made and the pending changes that are about to happen.
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Old 04-09-2012, 12:50 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Great post. I wasnt even aware there was a second chance until the peope of AA promised me one if i followed the directions. They were right; my life seems like a cake walk today compared to what it once was.
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Old 04-09-2012, 05:33 AM   #4 (permalink)
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That's great Muststop and MoS! AA happened to give me my second chance but that doesn't mean that there are not other programs which have helped folks in the same way. The point of the whole thing is to be able to get a new start, to put all the guilt behind you (or as much of that as is possible, since it's no easy thing to get rid of all those memories), to get self respect back (and sometimes it's amazing how much other people admire a person who manages to make it back) and to get busy just doing what has to be done. I don't believe those who say that there's only a five percent recovery rate because I've seen so many folks get their lives back.
So this holiday season is behind us, the Spring is here and I'm convinced that there's lots of hope for folks who really make up their minds to make a new start.

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Old 04-09-2012, 08:34 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Hope no one minds my stream of thought post here. Lately it seems I can't organize my thoughts very well and a stream is the best I can manage.

Yesterday I went to an Easter svc at the invitation of a coworker. It happened to be in the faith I was raised in, so the songs, prayers and svc were familiar to me. It was an outdoor Sunrise svc and the timing was perfect, as if the Sun rose "on call".

About ten days ago my divorce was finalized, after 25 yrs of marriage and a 2 yr separation. I now live in one room 2000 miles from my house etc. So I ended up leaving behind or throwing away most of the things that once filled my life. I am starting over in a comprehensive way, coinciding with my addiction recovery.

Years ago I left the faith I was raised in and wandered about a bit searching for a religious faith. I had a bang pow conversion moment many years ago when I was in an isolation room in a psych hospital. I realized that I'd had a faith. I'd had that same faith my entire life, even as a small child. I didn't have words for it, or know anyone else who practiced or believed it, so I'd never identified it. I mean, I HAD a religion, and practiced it with my family and community, so I never saw that this other deep aspect of my life was my actual faith.

So, sitting in the middle of the floor in an isolation room, I heard my heart wrench, as well as felt it. And I decided to practice what I believed like a religion instead of trying over and over to believe what I did not, and what did not fit my life experience.

As I listened to the prayers of the svc, and the Sun rose I was reminded of why I left that faith, and why I have the one I have. Years of experience, pain, joy, soul searching and spiritual practice and experiences rushed through my head and heart.

As the minister shared the story and hope of Easter, the Sun rose behind him. In its quiet madgesty. The way it does every single day.

Earlier in recovery, before my husband said the marriage was over from his end, I recalled coming to terms with my pre recovery life. Walking and contemplating and realizing that every step and choice I've made in my life has led me to where I am, and often reciting a prayer I learned very early on in my recovery. One line of the prayer is "I am grateful for every moment of my life this far and I am grateful for whatever unfolds"

I've lost sight of that lately, as I have gone through the heart rending process of sifting through what I thought was my life. I mean, those things are no longer available to me, I thought they were who and what I was, but they must not be, because here I still am. It's hard for me to say, today, that I am grateful for every moment of my life so far, and it's hard to be hopeful enough to say that I am grateful for whatever unfolds. But early in my recovery I learned something else abut gratitude. It's not a warm fuzzy feeling. Gratitude is action. I live my gratitude by engaging with those things, situations, etc that I claim to be grateful for. That is not always easy, but I know it to be truth.

The two "sacraments" of my faith are awareness and acknowledgement. I put effort into becoming aware, and then I acknowledge that which I have come to know by living it as truth.

I've lost sight of that as well lately, caught in a spiral of emotions, fears and anger. I needed to be reminded, refreshed and renewed. And there was the Sun, silently rising, shining in my face and onto my clothes, warming me on a chilly spring morning. Rising the way it always does, always has, no matter what frame of mind or soul I am in. Nudge, nudge, come on, rise with me, again.

Be grateful for every moment of my life so far, be grateful for whatever unfolds. but it's so tempting right now to be sad, angry, scared rather than grateful.

As others rejoiced in the promise of eternal life, I was reminded that this life is all I have, get up off my duff and live it. Embrace it. Live my gratitude for it.

When I live that way I feel better, when I don't, I feel horrible. I feel like I've lost my way, but then I recall what I have been made aware of, that life is not a maze with dead ends and traps, it is a labyrinth, if I follow my feet, I get where I am going because that is how a labyrinth is, it's a twisting, turning path, but it IS a path, not a trap.

The other night, or maybe it's more correct to say "wee hours of the morning" I was chatting online with a friend. He knows I am suicidal and he told me that in a sense my recent events and feelings put me in a place of "nothing left to lose". If I am willing to turn my back on it all through suicide, why not take a chance at turning my life inside out, falling off the grid and doing anything? I feel trapped because if I try to start over elsewhere I will lose my job, housing, and med insurance, I have a chronic disease and I NEED my meds etc. So I feel scared, trapped etc. But he makes a good point, I mean, if I'm going to kill myself anyway...may as well take a chance on there being something interesting out there, rather than stopping now and missing it.

I see his point.

I may do as he says, but the fact that he speaks truth, so now I am aware of another option, and now I must acknowledge it, gives me some energy to maybe stay here a little longer and think about figuring something out...and if not, taking that leap and seeing what life might throw my way if I take off on a wing and a prayer.

As the minister recited the prayers of his faith, the prayers of my faith began to run through my head, called forth by the Sun. And I was reminded that I am not without foundation, even though I feel like I am on shaky ground. I am walking a labyrinth, not trapped in a maze.

Perhaps not a renewal, but a reawakening. And once I am aware, I am bound to acknowledge it through action.

Second chance? opportunities, a new twist and turn on my path. I don't know. Take the next step, take the next step, there is no going back, no way to recover or alter the past. If I don't want to be where I am, the best thing to do is to go someplace else. Move on. I've had relapses in my recovery , but for me, those have been "move on" points as well. It's never the same, using again, having learned things in recovery and experienced things in recovery, using can never be the same as it was before.

The thing about a labyrinth, if you've ever walked one. It that as you twist and turn through it, you can see where you've been and you can see where you are going, but you still have to walk the path to get there, and even when it looks like you are close to the center, you may well have to turn away from it and walk a distance from it before you actually get there. I find it an apt metaphor for my life.

My friend, who chatted me the other night has walked many labyrinths with me, real as well as metaphorical. There is something about a labyrinth...and the Sun rising, and the awareness that this life is all I have, and the best acknowledgement of that is to live it that way.

Using was a learning experience, but it's time to move on.
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Old 04-09-2012, 10:31 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Threshold:
I have read your post and all I can say is that I have been in that labyrinth in which you say you find yourself. I too had a faith when I was young, a faith which later I felt I could no longer believe in literally and yet I too have sensed, later on, the presence of something there, an alternate world of the spirit. There have been times when I have thought of ending it all but what good would it have done to go out into the dark, the unknown, leaving behind those who might rightfully think themselves abandoned, leaving them with the guilt I have known when others in my family chose to leave in this way? So choosing life, I have seen the sun rise on my spirit. At times it is still a labyrinth, but I have learned, as you have, that only the next step be taken, and the next...
The Italian poet, Dante, said that he too was in a labyrinth:

“In the midway of this our mortal life,
I found me in a gloomy wood, astray
Gone from the path direct: and e’en to tell,
It were no easy task, how savage wild
That forest, how robust and rough its growth,
Which to remember only, my dismay
Renews, in bitterness not far from death.
Yet, to discourse of what there good befell,
All else will I relate discover’d there.”

He too found his way out of the labyrinth and, led by Beatrice, whom he loved, he found his way to paradise and a new life. Sobriety may not be paradise but it is a new life and better, is it not, than the darkness of addiction?

W.
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