How Taking my Recovery-Pulse Gives Me Resilience to Go Forward
by Joy Anderson
Dan's Note: I appreciated reading Joy's contribution, "Taking Inventory." In fact, one of the habits I'm working on myself lately is to incorporate these principles to my life (again) daily. I've grown lazy with self-reflection as of late, and I need to reach out to my sponsor to work these things back into my life. That's the great thing about change, though: you can do it at any time!
My sponsor got me into the habit early on of taking a daily inventory. It’s one of the best routines I’ve formed, and it really keeps me in check, morning to night. In the morning, I am grateful for a new day and ask for my thoughts and actions to be directed at a higher purpose. In the evening I sort of go through a list usually on paper —something about seeing it and thinking through it was always very powerful for me. At first, the list was out of the AA Big Book—the directions for the 10th Step, actually.
It goes like this: Was I…
❏ did I keep something in that I should have shared?
❏ was I loving and kind?
❏ was there something I could have done better?
❏ were my thoughts focused on myself or others?
❏ was I worrisome or remorseful?
❏ did I engage in “morbid reflection?"
In the beginning as I made my initial transformation into a strong, sober woman, the aforementioned list was more often than not met with the conclusion that I needed to make improvements.
Instead that also translated somehow, in my little fucked up head to "not being good enough." There was something “wrong” with me and I needed corrective measures to be a decent person. This was true in part, and the topics served their purpose. Today, I use less labels and the world isn’t quite as black and white.
Nothing is Good or Bad. It just is.
What always topped my list was that I was afraid — afraid of damn everything. Especially afraid of what everybody thought about what I thought. It was a torturous time. I second guessed EVERYTHING, even my gut. My “self” was so completely discombobulated early on that I didn’t know who to trust and I didn’t even trust myself. It was a scary time because there were days when I really felt like I was losing touch. But it all passed. In time, I re-learned what was important to me. I learned to not believe everything I think and to feel free to challenge my thinking on any given topic at any time, especially standing up to the voice that tells me I’m not sick.
Participating in this checklist inventory helped me to keep a handle on some of my bigger defects, until I could address them with the help of the Steps in their proper order.
After all I had spent a lot of time lying and thieving and being angry and trying to control things and all that needed to stop! Once I got past the initial fear-stage and started coming back into my body and mind, once the synapses started firing properly again, things started to make sense and the world was not such a terrifying proposition to become involved in.
Another thing…the valuable tool on Page 86 in that Big Blue Book helped me discover to Open Up and Live Outloud. In order to get out of myself I had to get in to others. And finally to rely on that Higher Power —what I refer to as the Universal Groove—The trick was to surrender to the flow…
I learned how to not get stuck with worry and remorse—clearly these were a waste of my time and completely counterproductive to the life I wanted to live. The one that always got me was the last one about morbid reflection. What the hell does that mean!? To keep it simple, I guess it’s just if I let my brain get stuck on stupid in one fashion or another.
I also learned that I think way too much. Going through this little checklist at the end of each day is a really powerful practice. Doing that just helps put everything into perspective for the day and to rest. Like I’m acknowledging my day and what happened and my part in all of it. Just the day in review. It spoke to the part of me that needed order and closure. Also, the act of writing it down and then looking back on it embedded the point of the process deep within me. It made the concepts more tangible to me. My List.
Then I added more to my own list to take my inventory a step further:
Did I laugh enough today?
Did I make fun of myself today?
Did I tell myself “I love you” enough?
Did I look at myself in the mirror and report this? “You rock! You are so totally cool and I think you’re the bomb!”
Did I perform at least one Random Act of Kindness?
Once I have those bases covered, I can truly say I tried. I did my best. I have had a complete and successful day as a human being trying my best to feel good and get along.
For me, that's enough.
About the Author
Joy Anderson is a writer on addiction and recovery topics. She's worked with Stodzy Internet Marketing in the past as Outreach Director. Constantly finding herself in "The Recovery Capital of the World," in Delray Beach, Florida, Joy en-joys playing with her three dogs: Sadie, Tuff, and Oliver. She uses them as role models for living — "They are loving, persistent, funny, and always seem to have a good attitude.“ She strives to be the person her dogs think she is! Puttering and Pondering are her favorite pastimes.