There was this from the Alanon “ONE DAY AT A TIME” book:
“THe change from active alcoholism to sobriety makes a great upheaval in our lives. It is a challenge to both partners. Making this difficult adjustment requires entirely new thinking patterns. In the years of active using, the husbands of compulsive drinkers had to take on many extra responsibilities. Along with earning a living for the family, they had to provide for the care of the children, take care of the home and get the meals. Wives of compulsive drinkers often had to work to supplement the skimpy budget or do without many necessities, as well as doing the man’s chores around the house. With sobriety, many of these roles must be reversed, many habits unlearned.
I will learn not to expect too much too soon, and above all, not to expect that sobriety will transform my spouse into a super-perfect human being, tailored to my specifications. No great improvements are possible in the lot of mankind until a change takes place in their modes of thought.
After I read this and got over the rampant sexism, I felt a sense of relief because sometimes all you want to feel is NORMAL. You want to know that you are not so unique in the challenges that you are facing. You want to know that someone else somewhere has experienced the space you are currently inhabiting. The fact that this sentiment made it into a book, well, that counts for something right?
And, did I read that right? They said the change from active addiction to sobriety creates UPHEAVAL! I thought I was just being dramatic when I desperately sat at my computer googling “HOW DO I LIVE WITH A CLEAN ADDICT?” hoping for a handbook or manual to pop up on amazon for $6.99 in paperback. Turns out, I was just being normal. (and sadly, no such handbook exists…believe me, I searched every boolean phrase possible).
I say all of this at the risk of sounding ungrateful or whiney to those of you who’ve never experienced this type of upheaval. Certainly, it’s not nearly as chaotic as active addiction, and frankly, I’ve learned a few things about myself since those days
so very long ago three short months ago that help it not be as chaotic. But chaos and upheaval are different beasts, really.
Chaos is worrying that your spouse will get knifed in an alley in a strange city in Massachusetts while you wait in the hotel knowing he’s out trying to score. Upheaval is the subtle shifting of household responsibility, giving trust even if it feels scary, stepping back from highly charged emotions to give each other space – basically, upheaval upends EVERYTHING and requires you to think completely differently. Chaos is just, well, hell on earth.
I think I already mentioned feeling a little like I’m walking on eggshells in the wake of this upheaval. I don’t think that’s healthy either, so I went to an alanon meeting tonight and was reminded of step 6 & 7: Be entirely ready to have God remove our defects of character (whoa, big) and then humbly ask Him to remove our shortcomings. This is the perfect part of the 12 steps to focus on during this time of hefty transitions and transformations because really, who better to take what is upended and right it than God?
A girl pointed out that shortcomings are not the same as character defects which I thought was really wise and important. We have to get ready to give up all our character deficiencies, but the actual clean up happens on a daily basis in the smaller increments of shortcomings. Maybe it’s like emptying all the little trashcans around the house into the kitchen garbage can all week and then on Monday night, you take the bigger mess out to the dumpster before the garbage man comes? In my world, that looks like applying the atonement of Jesus Christ every day in the hopes that someday, I’ll hit the miracle lottery and wake up with at least one thing perfected by his grace and mercy. And if not, that’s ok too because the day to day cleanup is made sufficient.
We sang the song More Holiness Give Me in church on Sunday and I felt so inspired by the simple pleading for just a little more of all the things that bring peace, I decided to do some arts and put them all around my house to remind me.
Even though that song talks about asking for an increase in good things and the steps talk about removing the bad, I kind of think they are one and the same really. If I seek patience, I relinquish impatience. If I seek holiness, I am willing to reject the unholy. If I long for more sense of HIS care, then I am giving up my tendency toward victimhood. And the song acknowledges the step by step process of becoming more like the Savior which is really what this whole exercise is about.
More openness give me. More vision give me. More kindness give me. More self-appreciation and self-trust give me. One Day at a Time.