1) That I can know something intellectually (and literally be writing and discussing it on a daily basis) yet fail repeatedly to practice it in my life. That I can hear something I already know said in a different way and it suddenly fires neurons that continue sleeping when I myself am the one regurgitating it.
2) Accept everything. That is the secret to inner peace. Shamefully, I actually began to think that the stuff that bothered me was because of the stuff that bothered me, and that IT needed to change for me to be okay. Then I actually heard something useful in a meeting as we were reading one of the stories in the back of the Big Book, the theme of which was acceptance. The guy writes about his wife and their dynamic as his alcoholism progressed. He began to see her defects instead of the many good things… until he discovers the concept of acceptance.
He writes, “And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation – some fact of my life – unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing happens in God’s world by mistake.” -Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 417
How absolutely true this is. When we stop seeing all of the stuff that bothers us and instead accept things just as they are, not only do we find peace, but the stuff that bothers us seems to magically go away. The world is a reflection of what’s inside of you. When we change, everything around us changes.
3) Not coincidentally, when I refuse to accept everything, I am also refusing to love. I am failing to properly love myself and my family. So I chose to stop distracting myself so much and fully embrace my life and my family. I gave my time to them wholeheartedly – present and engaged – playing, laughing, loving them completely – and boy did they light up. I swallowed whatever pride and annoyances I had and just gave in to loving them.
4) In accepting everything and loving my family, I took the pressure off of myself. Normally, if I’m not constantly doing something or achieving something, I feel like an utter failure and a lazy, worthless, piece of crap. Sure that is good to some extent because sloth is no good either, but too much ambition can be a disaster and only lead to misery, at least for addicts like me. As I became more distracted and tried to multi-task through life, I became edgy, annoyed, unhappy and jaded. So balance is key. Achievement means nothing if we are miserable inside.
5) I also reached out to God in prayer and deep meditation. I asked God to teach me to better love and accept myself so that I may better love and accept my family. I asked Him to help me see the good, not the bad. I also prayed for them to be embraced by Him, to feel loved and accepted themselves. I asked for them to have happiness, peace, self-esteem and joy. I asked God to teach me how to truly let go.
6) I focused on simple work and just being and enjoying where I am in life and what I’m doing. When we want to be somewhere and/or do something other than what we’re actually doing, that, my friends, is torture. Nothing will bring you down, give you angst, and cause you to become resentful, judgmental and loathsome sooner that a lack of gratitude.
Now people might say I am contradicting myself here with all of the love talk. Sorry, but no. Sure if loving an active addict can actually change him or her then great. Good luck with that. But you see, my wife and kids are not active crackheads. They light up when the dynamics are more positive and loving. And that’s only because I’m okay too.
So let’s not go overboard here. When I was actively using or sober/not recovered and my family showered me with love, it couldn’t even begin to penetrate my iron shell of pride, selfishness, self-adulation, narcissism, pettiness and delusion. Addicts must be the ones to change. Not their families. I had to change, and then my family followed. The power rests with us.
Bottom line: I had no idea how much power I had to literally define the entire dynamic and the peace and happiness of those in my family, but the truth is I do. We do. Addicts do. People can’t change us, but we can change people. So I will continue to be tough on addicts because love and ‘science and kindness’ don’t work for people like me. I was/am loved and still became an addict and still become a dick. Addicts are being told and treated the exact wrong way and this is producing near 100% failure rates. If addicts actually wanted to recover or if someone presented them with an actual solution, anybody could recover.
God, teach me to accept everything as it is and to better love people. Teach me how to make my family feel loved, safe, and comforted, that they may have greater peace, happiness and joy.