First of all, thank you to everyone who responded with kind words about my last post. It feels good to know that there are other people out there who wish me well. It means a lot.
I got a phone call a few weeks ago from another woman in recovery, a stranger to me. Like many others, I’m on a phone list that’s distributed by a central office. I don’t get many calls from that list, but I do get a few. And I have a lot of empathy for the women who call because I’ve “been there, done that.”
So let me take an opportunity to thank the women who took calls from me a few years ago. I was hurt, confused, and absolutely miserable, and you helped me.
One of you let me know that your acting out behaviors had also gotten worse when you first started trying to get sober. But you stuck with the program and by the time I talked to you, you’d been sober for 2 years and your life was much better.
When I was driving myself crazy wondering if I’d lost my sobriety or not, one of you gave me some really insightful words of wisdom. You said that I didn’t sound sober, but that since I hadn’t physically acted out you could understand my confusion. You told me that it didn’t really matter one way or another because if I wasn’t mentally sober, it was only a matter of time before I’d lose my physical sobriety. You sounded gruff and kind of mean to me. After I hung up the phone I burst into tears and called you a bitch. I hated this program! There’s no way to win when you have to be careful of what you think. But two days later, I’d lost my sobriety for sure and my group sponsor pointed out that I was spending a lot of time and energy fighting rather than just accepting reality.
I’ve tried to pass this wisdom on to others. Some people like the image of the addict fighting back, like the first woman did. I prefer to say that change is difficult, and changing life long compulsive behaviors is very difficult. And worrying about your sobriety is just not a productive thing to do. Your job (my job) in recovery is to do the next right thing. That’s all. Staying sober is not my job. Right living and right thinking is.
Like a farmer, right? Planting and harvesting is a farmer’s job. Growing is not.
Last week though, I got several calls from women who left me feeling used. They dumped, preached, and then when they’d gotten what they needed, they left. Of course, that’s what sick people do — but I need to develop a better coping strategy.
There’s a point where a remembered hurt can develop into a resentment — or it can morph into a springboard for learning and change. I definitely want to change how I manage myself on the phone with other women in recovery. I’m grateful that nobody else has called for awhile, because I would hate to be guarded with the next person because I’m still smarting from feeling used by the woman before her.
And the whole dilemma about whether to stay connected with my 12-step program? “That’s not something I need to decide today.” A direct quote from my first sponsor.