Bad pot, resentments, plus a trip to the beach

Yesterday, for some reason, I thought about that time my best friend slept with the boy I was in love with right in front of me when I was so high I could not remember my grandmother’s last name. I’m learning there is no statute of limitations on resentments and that I could probably keep doing Step 4 forever and never finish because there’s always going to be some hurt that won’t stay buried.

For those of you not into the whole 12-step scene, Step 4 is where we create a “searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves” and beam up every sleeping resentment we can find and then probe the hell out of it. In the case of my not-very-good best friend, I quickly saw my role in the pain. I knew she was only interested in me for who I knew at that time and I played that up. I let her hurt me because I was afraid of losing her as a friend. The only part I don’t understand is why I couldn’t remember my grandmother’s last name, but I think it was just crazy pot. When I ran home that night, I thought a squirrel was chasing me. Maybe I should just resent the pot.

The point of Step 4 is not to hash out all the slights and wrongs in our life at one big, dry pity party. The point is to identify the role we played in the biggest messes of our life so that we are no longer doomed to repeat them. It has been an eye opening experience so far. I do believe my drinking was a symptom of my self-absorbed personality and fearfulness. I drank because alcohol was the sweetest escape from my own head, though not reliably over time.

Yesterday I also thought about that time a wise woman told me that people who talk about being bored and doing reckless things to “feel alive” are often in a lot of pain and they don’t even realize it. I’ve spent a lot of time and energy escaping feelings that don’t feel good, so this resonated with me. It turned something I thought was fun and exciting into what it really was: a sad affair.

I know I’m babbling, but I am going somewhere with this. I don’t know exactly how it’s related, but next week I’ll be at the beach with just my kids and I’m well aware of my tendency to tune out when the tedium gets to be too much. There are a million different ways to escape and I know all of them. Step 4 has helped me see how too much alone time, literal and figurative, makes everything worse. If I simply stay in the moment, I feel more alive and want to escape less.

I’m going to read up on mindfulness because the idea fascinates me, but I don’t really understand how to put it into practice. This is probably something I could figure out on my own slowly over time, but I hope to have something practical to help me next week.

I tell you what: I am extremely grateful for being sober because I have the chance to be a better parent (and person) than I ever could have been before. In early recovery, it was all about the booze and how much better my life was without it, which was great. Now that the honeymoon is long over, my recovery is about learning how to change the way I see things so I don’t have that underlying desire to escape in the first place. I’m up two weeks, down the next, but still it feels like progress and I am grateful for this.

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16 thoughts on “Bad pot, resentments, plus a trip to the beach

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  1. It is all up and down in the early days…

    Remember to include some of the good things on the list as well – I found it very important to have a full list of good and bad on the inventory

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      1. I couldn’t begin with anything on the list – bit like my initial Gratitude List “I am alive” that was it and took me 30 mins to get that! But with effort I did a more complete inventory in Step 4 acknowledging some good points in myself as well – that was of value to me at least.

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  2. I was just talking to someone about this topic last night. That the early days are that euphoric high of ‘look how much easier life is without alcohol.’ And then lo and behold we put together a little time and our ego begins to bitch slap us back to reality and we realize that there is an underlying reason as to WHY we drank. I have revisited Step 4 many times over the years and I have to agree with you, there are some hurts that at hard to exorcise.

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  3. Oh this is such a fantastic post! I can eat it with a spoon. This is SO where I’m at this point too.

    And you’re funny as hell. I love the whole crazy scene where you just want to remember your grandmother’s name while that whole thing is going on with the guy and the friend. And then the squirrel…I know there’s a lot of pain in the history behind the story so I’m sorry for finding humor.

    Thanks for sharing this.

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    1. No, no, please feel free to laugh because I do at this and many other cringe-worthy memories. If they were so painful that I couldn’t laugh at them, well that would just feel too sad.

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  4. This is a fantastic post and so much of it relates to where i”m at too. You are so right…and I’m very interested in mindfulness too, and breaking things right down to that very instant and why I feel discontent/empty/lost. Trying, really trying to fill myself up just with the right thinking and being. I love this, thank you so much… xxx

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  5. “Maybe I should just resent the pot.” yep, I had to laugh too! Something awesome about comic relief as we examine things that are tough to look at. Shakespeare was a pro at it, and you’re pretty awesome too!
    Alcohol was no doubt an escape for me too. From boredom, the tedium of life, hurt feelings, hell ANY feelings, from the harsh realities of sickness and death and caregiving, fear of the unknown and imagined, and on and on. I guess to sum it up, it was simply an escape from life itself.
    So I can understand a bit too. How does one fully engage and stay in the moment in and with a life that one drank purposefully to escape? Practice and repetition. Overwriting the negative experiences with positive. Staying in the moment and practicing mindfulness.
    Two ways to help: do you have a buzzer or beep on your phone or watch you can program to go off every hour? At each hour or chime, stop and become fully aware of what you were doing that moment. Were you engaged or were you checked out? Focus on your breathing. Inhale deeply and feel yourself exhaling. Say something positive to yourself, a mantra if you will or something you want to remember, “Stay in the moment, each moment is a gift.” “I’m so grateful to be sober.” Or something like that.
    And as far as overwriting the bad with the good, when you see something that pleases you, makes you smile, or just makes you feel good- register it! Like a computer, we have to hardwire our minds and memories sometimes. If you see a pretty sunrise, say to yourself, “This is such a beautiful and peaceful sunrise, I want to remember this beauty.” If you smell or eat something yummy, “that orange smelled like heaven, I really enjoyed eating that juicy fruit” (ok, that sounded really corny!), when watching your kids play, “I am so blessed to have happy healthy children, they bring me so much joy”, when hearing, seeing, experiencing anything that makes you smile and appreciate the moment- “I am so happy I saw ____, it sure made me feel _____.” If that’s hard to do, try to time it with the hour chime- look around and find something that makes you smile, even if it’s the fact that you are alive and breathing and have running water. And register that experience- acknowledge it, because you’re right, we usually don’t take time to remember them because we’re on auto-pilot or busy brooding over our resentments.
    I didn’t mean to ramble on so much, your post just really got me thinking! I hope you have a great day!

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  6. This gave me quite the giggle, too. Perhaps you should have just resented the squirrel, the cheeky bugger.
    Seriously, thanks heaps for including an explanation in your post for non-AAers. I often feel reticent to comment on posts when AA is mentioned because I know jack about it, but it’s interesting to read what it’s about.
    Good luck with step 4, it sure gets mentioned a lot on blogs so it must be a hard one.

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  7. I really like this post. Thank you so much for sharing. I think you just help me understand an aspect of the 4th step that I think I was missing. I hope to go back over some of my stuff and take a slightly different approach.

    If you are looking for more information on Mindfulness, I would be happy to email you some of the stuff I have from a full year long course I took. We spent a lot of time on Mindfulness. It is really helpful to me. It just brings my mind back to a clear spot when it gets all muddy with all of my junk of my past, present and future 🙂

    Take care! J

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