One of the biggest challenges I face today is being a recovering girl in an unrecovered world. I’m not trying to sound superior, but the fact is we live in a really fucked up world. There are a lot of assholes and trying to stay connected to a Higher Power and live spiritually can be a challenge in today’s society. Or at least it is for this recovering alcoholic.
I’ve been sober for four years this month. My first year of recovery I pretty much avoided the outside world. I stayed around people that were safe which included my family and a handful of friends. It was a year of weeding toxic people out of my life. If you brought negativity or drama to my life I was quick to break ties with you. I ended friendships and relationships that were unhealthy. I even quit my job because I couldn’t handle dealing with entitled brides whose biggest dilemma was deciding between white or ivory linens; blush or bashful bridesmaid dresses. Call me selfish. Call me judgmental. I had to be to stay sober.
Year two I dove deep into the 12 steps and really grasped onto the whole “fellowship” thing. I was going to at least a one meeting a day, sometimes two. I found my clique of friends that I’d meet for meetings and go to lunch and dinner with. We’d host sober pool parties and holiday gatherings. I’d leave my own family dinners to get to a meeting on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve. It wasn’t until year two that I started working the steps and got a “real” sponsor. You know—someone I actually called and took direction from. The 12 Step Promises started coming true for me. I knew a new freedom and a new happiness. I did not regret the past, nor wish to shut the door on it. I comprehended the word serenity and I knew peace. That feeling of uselessness and self-pity disappeared. My whole attitude and outlook on life changed. Self-seeking slipped away and I saw where my experience could benefit others.
I continued doing my best at practicing these principles in all of my affairs. Then something happened in my third year of sobriety and applying the 12 steps in my daily life became more of a challenge. I realized that I wasn’t staying sober in the real world. I made this sweet little safe life for myself comprised mostly of people from AA. I soon learned I wasn’t actually “living” and I wasn’t quite as peaceful and serene as I thought. It’s pretty easy to practice patience and tolerance and do everything in love when you are around people doing the same, but what about when you step outside the rooms of recovery? Well, for me it was a huge reality check. Here I was thinking I was one of the most accepting and grace giving souls around, but it was all conditional and I didn’t even know it. I gave grace to people who gave me grace. I was honest with honest people. I could practice faith where there was no fear. And I was willing to forgive people who were forgiving of me. I was fooling myself. I had genuinely been practicing all of these things but they were with people living along the same spiritual plain as me.
Year four has been a year of self-awareness and growth. I live more outside the rooms than inside. I attend meetings regularly, but I have found a balance and I don’t hide out in meetings anymore. I deal with assholes daily—something I used to avoid at all costs. And I have really seen my character defects shine since falling in love and committing to a relationship. Year four has made me completely aware of just how human I am, flaws and all.
There are days that I could win a gold medal for spiritual fitness. And some days I wouldn’t make the qualifying round. How’s that for acceptance? Some days love, patience and tolerance come easy for me and some days I have dig deep to find them. I guess the good news is that today I have a program of recovery. Sure, life would be a lot easier if I could live on a commune with like-minded individuals—but who’s that really helping? It’s the people that have hate, ignorance and intolerance in their heart that need love, patience and acceptance. That’s where the action begins and you find out just how spiritually fit you really are.