The key to happiness might be found where expectations meet reality, which works against me as much as it does for me. Take a recent visit to my grandmother, which I was not expecting to be painful but was. Or a visit the next day to my parents, which I was dreading for some vague reason that was unfounded because it went great.

Another thing I’d been putting off due to fear of the unknown was steps 4 and 5. Step 4 is painful because you list all your resentments and guilt, shame and remorse on paper that you’re supposed to keep for further work but is much smarter to shred afterwards if you ask me. It’s supposed to be a healing exercise, or at least the first part of it, which is then followed by a cathartic confession to a trusted soul and God and whoever else happens to be sitting within earshot at the Starbucks where I just did my fifth step. I came with a handwritten list of mostly self-inflicted pain and went over it with my sponsor, who did not give me a gold star but did tell me I completed step 5 in doing so. This was a surprise to me and akin to how I felt after passing the licensing exam I had dreaded for so long. That’s it? Huh. That wasn’t so bad.

But yesterday morning it kind of was bad because in doing step 4, I stirred up a lot of stuff I always think about but rarely feel. I could maybe live with terrible specimens if they were contained within thick glass cases, but please don’t ask me to take them out and hold them. Blechh.  Yesterday I suffered a terrible emotional hangover, though it was mostly gone by night. This morning I carried a knot in my stomach that reminded me of an actual hangover. I get this physical symptom now from stress that I never had (or maybe just never noticed) when I was drinking.

Fortunately there are things to feel better. This morning I went for a run in the cooler weather and lower humidity and that knot and tension went away. I ran as the sun rose and enjoyed a deep quiet and saw one fox and a lot of bunnies that noticed how slow I was moving and continued hopping at an unworried pace. Love, love, love my morning runs.

I have other, less healthy habits. I play a lot of games on my phone that involve matching three red diamonds in a row and other such exciting things. It drives my husband crazy, but I hope he knows it could be much worse. I beat myself up over it because I know it’s a form of escape, but not all escape is bad. A friend told me we do these mindless things when we’re stressed and it’s a good way to get out of our own heads for a little while. I agree, though also recognize I’m worrying all the time because I still think I have control over things that I don’t. I have to learn to let it go and not rely on running and matching up diamonds and other things that give me a false sense of control.

As always, it’s a process and I feel a little bit better each day, even the crappy ones.


13 thoughts on “Expectations

Add yours

  1. I also play those games AND I just recently found Zentangle which has become my new obsession…uh…I mean past time. I don’t think it’s bad considering all of the other things I’ve done to try and escape. At least with Zentangle I’m releasing some artistic impulses and with the matching diamonds thingy I’m exercise my brain.

    That’s way more than I can say about my former pursuits.

    Give yourself a break – everyone needs a little bit of escape right?


  2. My escapism has been taking the form of reading tons of fiction and occasional bad television. Go easy on yourself.


  3. “I have other, less healthy habits.” Ha, don’t we all 🙂 I like to watch really amazingly lame television (the glee project, food tv, and a bit of dexter and nurse jackie thrown in for good measure). i try to limit my time on bad tv, though, because like a good addict, i tend to do tooo muuuccchhh. why watch one hour of tv when 5 hours is better! yeah, more is not always better, right? games on the phone, fine. three hours of games, not so much … I agree with BHM above. “There is no frigate like a book …”


  4. Be good to yourself and go easy on blaming yourself … the games hurt no one etc. I read too much as a form of escapism I could say but again who’s it hurt? No-one.

    You are showing so much self awareness that is what happens in the programme (from my experience). Slowly you can change this or that when you need to by applying the AA principles to it. This is that “trudging the road of happy destiny” it talks about you know! 🙂

    I’m not surprised you had an emotional hangover. I found Step 4 difficult because I ended up just with one resentment – ME! I saw it was all my fault and got into a depressive spiral about how I was a bad person and all that. But I came out of it in the end. I think having that hangover is a good sign, shows that you are really digging in the dirt that you need to dig in once in a while to sort out who you really are and who you really can be… Stay safe


  5. First, I just read through the other comments, and if they are also considered addictions then I, sadly, abuse all of them!! Second, it could be worse… you are playing a game that probably other adults play, I am addicted to my kids’ games… Webkinz! It couldn’t be more embarassing! I really do look at it the way you do… it can (and has been) much, much, much worse! Thanks so much for sharing, I really look forward to your posts, and I wish I could embrace the morning run the way you do!


  6. This is a great post. I can relate to EVERY word in it. The expectations, the activities to distract and decompress, and especially the emotional hangovers. You are so right about finally having to feel things as opposed to just thinking or looking at something like looking at a contained specimen. I am new to emotional hangovers and they really are like an alcohol hangover!

    Genius post.



  7. I too can relate to so much of this.

    I did my fourth & fifth steps of sorts with a psychologist. I didn’t realize it at the time since I wasn’t really officially “working the program”, I just know that it all poured out- all the skeletons I had so neatly packaged in my boundless internal closets- and I felt horrible afterward. No sense of immediate relief, only overwhelming grief. Time eased the pain, but honestly, I’m not sure if pouring it ALL at there at once was the right thing for me. What to do with all the skeletons then if they don’t evaporate, but to stick them back in somewhere? But that’s a totally different point.
    I too played the games (words with friends, bejeweled, scramble) and checked Facebook compulsively, though I’m taking a self induced vacation from them all now (they serve a purpose until they don’t- you’ll recognize it when you don’t “need” them- until then, play the games…). I run and run and run too. I’m like Forrest Gump some days, ha. That will balance too- (I’m in a forced balance now due to a chest cold….).
    Great post bbb, have a great day! Beautiful photo!


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