Sharing his experience, strength and hope! Brad W…
When asked to write about what my life feels like in this moment the only word that came to mind was FABULOUS! And with that, I smiled and laughed at myself for two reasons. One: Early into my sobriety, my first sponsor told me, “Pick a word. Even when you don’t feel it, you say it”. I was so stuck in a world full of self pity and self loathing, that I was unable to recognize how I felt or understand any gratitude for the life I was given. So, when anyone asked me how I was doing, one of my standard answers was, “Fabulous”… The other part of this was to learn that some days I just needed to ‘fake it til I make it’. Soon enough, I began to feel not only ok or good, but some days I felt fabulous. I laughed this morning because for the life of me, I could not remember why I had this safety word. I knew there was significance behind it, but I had to text my friend and make sure I remembered why she had me do this in the beginning. What started out as a simple tool, has slipped away as I have learned to let go of self pity and self loathing and replace it with acceptance. I have been blessed beyond words. When challenged at the beginning of the year to write down my blessings everyday and put them in a jar, I thought my friend was crazy. Today, 3 1/2 months into the year, that jar is almost full. The point is this… today my life is nothing that I had expected it to be. Recovery has given me more than I could have ever dreamed possible. While my life is not perfect, I can work with the flaws, and I’m happy to do so. I don’t want a perfect life… I just want life. And that I have!
Today I drove to one of my “places”. It would make for a better story if this place was five miles up a logging road, traversing streams to arrive at the top of a mountain… but its not. The actual location of this place is a mile out of town. Turn left off the highway and you get to a park. I have been coming here for over 6 years during my recovery. I’ve written 4th Steps, prayed, meditated and sometimes just cried. This place holds a certain power to me. it always seems to have the first green grass after winter… and so many things have been let go here.
This place has a small creek that runs through. I don’t know if it has name and frankly it doesn’t matter or maybe the fact its nameless makes it even better. There are a number of trees. Big ones, small ones and inbetween ones, all keeping a seemingly respectful distance from one another.
I love the creek. From my vantage point on the right is an old bridge. Its made of concrete and quartzite. It seems to be in a perpetual state of falling apart. Most of the mortar is gone from between the sharp, man chiseled rocks. it creates dark gaps of empty space. The rock above and below these gaps lean towards the earth making the bridge appear to fall infinitely slow back to the earth.
On the left is a natural outcropping of the same rock. As the creek ran into the hill eons ago, it revealed this rock from where it had resided. At this point of intersection, the creek bends softly left. Although this rock’s nature is to be edged and angular, this tiny little creek with no name has softened the edges of this hardness. This little bit of the worlds softest most formless element has gently shaped this hard nature into steps. Into spaces. The angular became curved, the sharp became soft from this tiny bit of water.
This water shaped rock looks inviting. You want to run your hand over the smoothness. You want to sit in the gentle curves and dangle your feet over the creek. In the spaces made by water there are tree roots striving to follow their course, tufts of grass and plants reside in every space made. Its only a small spot on this earth… a small place but it feels very true.
A simple realization occurs. That bridge is of no use anymore. It was forced into place by man with good intentions to cross the creek. It served a purpose for awhile… many have crossed I’m sure. But now it falls slowly. Not with great crashes or ferocity but simply sinks back into the earth. These rocks came from was the earth. Maybe its in there true nature to always return there.
The symbolism was easy from me today in this place…
How many bridges of good intentions have I made to cross the stream? Maybe my journey is to simply wade in that creek or river. To feel my true nature and myself in this life. When I put aside my resentments, my fears, my perceptions, my ego… I can let this river soften my sharpness, let my edges be rounded and to create spaces in me for thriving. Maybe this is me in the flow of life.. to allow… to be… to just realize, right here and right now, the truth of this moment. That I am okay and I am where I am supposed to be.
In this spot the water will always soften the hardest things and that this grass will without fail always turn green again.
“Thoughts and feelings are just that; thoughts and feelings. You don’t have to act on them.”
I have been diligently focusing on steps 10, 11 and 12 for quite some time now. I believe that the first nine steps prepare us to do steps 10, 11, and 12 for the rest of our lives, and that to live in those steps is to grow on a daily basis. I used to drink and think that I “felt” all kinds of feelings. I’d regularly get drunk and try to kill myself, jokingly referring to my status as a “frequent flyer” at Behavioral Health. I say this in jest now; it was my reality then. But I wasn’t really feeling. I was just drunkenly fueling my misery and trying to take it out on myself with a knife and trying to bring you along with me.
Today, I feel real emotions. In the last week, I have faced several important emotions; devastating disappointment, white hot rage, and a sorrow that rends my heart in two. These, interspersed with an incredible joy for living and a happiness I feel in my gut. How is that possible? Such a wide range of emotions, when I used to only feel misery and want everyone else to share it with me?
And yet, I’m relatively peaceful today. What I have learned is to just feel what I’m feeling. Recognize it. Name it. Experience it. And then move on. I cannot do this on my own. I seek the guidance of my Higher Power. I talk with another alcoholic. I make amends quickly if needed. And then I turn my attention to someone who needs what I have. Bam! And it’s no longer about me, but maximum service to others.
I think of this as a miracle in my life. My selfish, self-centered being is tempered for a moment. Don’t get me wrong. I’m as selfish as the day is long, but I’m starting to recognize what it means to “live” this program on a daily basis. I am shocked by this seemingly new “progress” I am making, but whatever it is, I’m going to keep doing it. My Higher Power is “Doing for me what I could not do for myself.” and that is completely awe inspiring. That I can recover from a “seemingly hopeless state of mind and body” is amazing to me every single time I recognize that is exactly what is happening every moment of the day.
Kate Zimmerman Tallgrass Alumnus #35