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.