Excitement and anxiety are so closely related in my head that they get tangled up. A coworker’s kid says strangle instead of tangle, and this feels right. I get really excited about the little things in life, but then I strangle any joy by worrying how they’ll turn out. If I could turn my brain off, I would probably feel calmer and less tortured. But I also wouldn’t have as much fun doing things like going to Trader Joe’s with the family on a Saturday morning.
Normally my husband or I do grocery shopping solo. It’s a solemn, utilitarian task. But it’s those little things that keep me happy these days, so we decided to try something new. (13 year-old me would have probably run off and joined the circus if she had seen how it would all turn out.) Before we left, I worried the kids would be bored and unruly and that my husband and I snippy and miserable. I worried we would spend too much and still not get everything we needed.
Instead we got everything we needed and everyone behaved, including the grocery bill. We even went to the pet store afterwards and almost came home with three kittens but instead settled for a new volcano for the fish tank.
Still, something about that morning made me miss beer. On the drive home, we passed a brewery I used to love and I said “I really miss beer…I’m having a real hard time with it right now.” I can’t conjure up the feeling now, but at the time it hit sharply.
Yesterday I called my sponsor and told her I’ve been missing beer and not really feeling meetings lately, even though I’m doing well overall. She said it was all normal and we spoke about getting more involved with service to get outside my own head. She also said prayer and meditation help her with cravings. I laughed and told her I went to Chuck E. Cheese instead.
Once I remember smuggling in red wine to get through an evening at Chuck E. Cheese. This Saturday, however, the heavens aligned and the crowd was light and the volume low and my nerves not as frayed. My youngest still threw a fit when it was time to leave her friend’s birthday party, but I left not wanting to drink.
That’s the serenity I’ve been getting glimpses of here and there. Yesterday I met two people from home group at a noon meeting in town. When I walked in, they were in mid-conversation about page 417 of the Big Book, which is about serenity and its direct proportion to acceptance. Across from me on the wall a huge, handpainted sign promised We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will know serenity and peace.
Talk about a sign.
As soon as I let go and stop trying to control the world around me, a funny thing happens. Things turn out just fine. In fact, they often turn out better than I planned because I did not plan it. Plus, and this is huge, I get to enjoy myself more because my head’s not all jammed up with worry.
This is why I keep going to meetings, by the way. I hit these spots where I get tired of the rituals and the hardliners and the paradox. And then I go to a random meeting and suddenly a sign on the wall I’ve been staring at for eight months brings tears to my eyes because suddenly I see it. In these moments, the world feels big and small and absolutely perfect.