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.