No Matter What
Last month I celebrated thirty-three years of continuous abstinence from alcohol. Then a week ago I slipped going down a spiral staircase and descended to the bottom step on my bum. Quite a metaphor I thought, and it made me ask myself how I managed to stay sober all these years without slipping. I don’t think I would have lasted if I hadn’t made a decision—a decision to be on my own side no matter what.
Shame & Co.
The decision was made from shame, desperation, and determination. I was having an affair with a married man and struggling to stay sober and spiritually fit through all of it. I was discouraged that I could be so stupid stone cold sober. How could I have fallen in love with the husband of a dear friend? Should I get drunk? Kill myself? What should I do?
What I did was make a decision to be on my own side despite my stupidity and compulsiveness. I decided to save my own life for my own sake. I ended the affair to keep my recovery. And with the decision to be on my own side, I began to hold my head up, if only a little bit. I realized that I was an adult and that my recovery was my responsibility, that my life and well being were my responsibility—no one else’s. I decided that no matter what I did, said, thought, or felt that I would be compassionate to myself and be on my own side. I would hold my head up no matter what.
A Dirty Rag
It wasn’t easy being on my own side. I was a mess. An intuitive who met me at that time told me years later that when she met me she saw an image of dirty rag that had been used and tossed in the corner. It was an apt metaphor. I did feel dirty and used, discouraged and lonely. But I had made a decision and I began to take care of myself. I stayed sober, began therapy, and kept myself very busy. I wrote and recorded affirmations and listened to them each night as I went to sleep. I went to meetings and didn’t drink. Slowly I healed.
The Biggest Difference
Of all the things I did to stay sober, I believe that my decision to be on my own side no matter what has made the biggest difference. When I am confused I ask myself, “What would I do if I were on my own side?” It isn’t that I don’t care about others. I do and make win-win decisions whenever possible. But I don’t forget the bottom line—that I am responsible for my own well being, and it is I who will live out the consequences of my choices. By taking responsibility for my recovery and the decisions I make and the actions I take, I know I have grown up. I am a full-fledged adult.
When I landed at the bottom of the spiral stairs I was grateful that I hadn’t broken any bones. I was grateful that I wasn’t drunk, and that I could stand up and walk. I knew I would be sore and I was, but I got to have some quiet time. And so I noticed that I still make mistakes in recovery, even after thirty-three years. But I also noticed that no matter what happens, I am on my own side. That’s the bottom line—and it has made the biggest difference.