I haven’t been too busy. I haven’t been coping with any crisis or tragedy that has prevented from writing.
I haven’t been traveling and unable to connect.
I haven’t even had writer’s block.
I’ve just been avoiding.
I haven’t written in almost two months. I don’t have any excuse. I simply didn’t feel like I should, like I deserved to, like it would matter.
Sure, I’ve had a handful of topics, ideas about which to write.
But none of them were good enough.
No one would care.
They didn’t mean anything.
What was the point?
So here I am, writing, because I just can’t take it anymore. The torment I’ve endured in obsessing over not writing has me exhausted and emotionally drained. I’m burdened by both the act and the subject. I am hopeful that I’ll experience some sort of relief in their release.
I’m approaching the one year anniversary of my sobriety date. I wouldn’t say it has been a long year in a bad way. But I’ve definitely felt every single day of it. I’ve learned a lot about my disease, the fellowship in my 12 Step program, and other alcoholics.
I’ve also learned a lot about myself. And I don’t like it all.
It’s been explained a couple of ways. In recovery, we talk about “working the steps” and learning more about our past and the reasons for our motives. It’s said that sobriety is like an onion. The onion is peeled slowly, over time, revealing a new layer underneath. God shares with us fragments of our character incrementally, allowing us to process and address them.
Our family just spent a week in Hilton Head. It was a great time away, just the five of us. Our kids are nine, ten and eleven. We’re quickly approaching that phase when their friends will be joining us everywhere. Carl and I really enjoyed seven days away from routine and social calendars to just enjoy THEM.
Addy, our youngest, would likely describe her memories from the trip a little differently from ours. On our third day, Addy was stung by a stingray. It was only her second experience in the ocean. It was traumatic and she felt betrayed. She never put another toe in the water the rest of the week.
Driving home following the July 4th fireworks, we were stopped abruptly at an intersection for Addy to witness a man pulled from his driver’s seat. He was thrown to the ground and handcuffed after he ignored the direction of two traffic cops, attempting to drive THROUGH them. The incident lasted just minutes, but she had a front row seat as it it unfolded. She didn’t sleep much that night. She said when she closed her eyes, all she could see was “that bad guy talking back to the police.” She asked, “what if he ran them over?”
Two nights later, while enjoying dinner in an outdoor restaurant, a male diner and two servers stormed the patio, grazing Addy’s end of the table, as they chased down a woman who’d attempted to steal a purse off the back of a chair! Addy didn’t touch her dinner. She barely spoke a word. I encouraged her to tell me what she was feeling, to “get it out.” She said, “I’ve lived in Cincinnati my whole life and never seen anything bad. We’ve only been here one week and I’ve seen two bad things.” I could see, in her eyes, the realization that the world isn’t all good. She was forced to consider that bad things aren’t just for TV. She was somber and thoughtful the rest of the night. She slept with us and at 3 am, she threw up. The anxiety was too much.
That’s a lot to process for a nine year old. The world, as she understood it, was tainted last week. Her sense of security was compromised. Her perception, changed.
Being an adult is hard. The whole responsibility thing. But, I think it’s also the emotional burden that comes with the awareness of the world we live in...the one in which our children are growing...
In recovery, we talk about the clarity of mind and realizations the come with extended time in sobriety. Peeling back the onion. The longer we work the 12 steps of our program, the more we must examine our past and consider our own shortcomings. Thankfully, we serve a God of grace and mercy. He only reveals to us what we can handle at the time. A layer now, another later. Not a single one of us could cope, in a single sitting, with the full scope of the destruction we caused to ourselves and those around us.
A layer of Addy’s onion was removed last week, revealing a less than perfect world. I’ve been avoiding writing these last several weeks because the layers I have removed have left me feeling unworthy and insecure.
Nowhere in scripture does it say that God won’t give us more than we can handle. Oh, yes He does! For it is only through the MORE that we turn to Him for help. We must depend on Him for help through the more.
I’ve forgotten this.
My emotional condition is dependent upon my spiritual fitness. I’ve been anything but spiritually fit lately. Slowly, I’ve begun taking over again. I got to 10 months of sobriety and I relaxed! Clearly, I had this under control. I hadn’t experienced any cravings or temptations to drink. I became complacent and stopped asking God every day for His direction. I’d stopped the daily surrender. It wasn’t long before I was restless, irritable and discontent.
Step Six of our program states that
We were are entirely ready for God to remove all of our defects of character.
I do not like what I’ve discovered. It’s painful. The layers of my onion have been ripped off exposing raw, bitter, stinging truths. In keeping with the metaphor, I’d love to mince this onion and double bag it for the trash. I want a new onion covered in layers of papery skin. But it’s not an option. I have to keep peeling...and accepting what’s underneath.
Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
I have just two choices. I can wallow in despair and self-pity at what I’m learning about myself, or I can ask God to change me by taking away those defects and correcting my flaws. Although it sounds miserable to wallow and easy to surrender, wallowing requires no effort. It’s lazy. Surrendering means I have to ACKNOWLEDGE something to give up. I have to admit there are things to let go.
I’ve been crying over my onion for too long. Continuing to stare at it, tears streaming isn’t getting me anywhere but tired and resentful. So, here I am admitting to you, in humility, that I am moving forward today, asking God to remove my pride, ego and self-centeredness so that I can lead a stronger, healthier life in His will, with His direction, for His glory.
They say this is the easier, softer way...living a life of humility and surrender.
So, why is it so hard to accept?