2020 was a heck of a year, wasn’t it? My favorite commercials were the ones where 2020 is a woman who meets Satan on Match.com. So apropos!! But guess what? If you’re reading this, you made it through it. For some of you, your recovery program is stronger than ever, but for others, you may feel as if you’ve gotten lost somewhere or as if you’re not as connected to your recovery as you were before all this. Don’t worry, this is completely understandable and totally normal. What we went through with this pandemic was unprecedented! We people in recovery had to adapt. We can be grateful we learned that we can stay connected and continue building a solid program of recovery by whatever means necessary. 2020 taught us to keep putting one foot in front of the other as a community.
I really missed all those warm hugs I used to get from my sober friends. I missed the intimacy of small, in-person, group meetings and the fellowship of large group meetings. I remind myself, though, the important thing is I stayed sober. My takeaway from 2020 is: if I want to continue to stay sober, I have to make sure my program is working for me, today, on today’s terms.
Nina Simone got that right! Like the majority of the world, my life does not look the same as it did a year ago. My job situation has changed. My son is now doing online learning from home. He is also preparing to go to high school (OMG!) I’m caring for my first puppy. My relationships have changed. The plans I had a year ago have either been pushed back or have changed completely. I have grown as a person and in my recovery. I am making decisions from a different perspective. Thinking of all this change can certainly be overwhelming, but because I have a solid foundation of recovery built upon the basic principles of my recovery program and a relationship with my Higher Power, I know I can continue to put my recovery first and take life as it comes. So really, it’s not so much that my program of recovery needs refreshing as I need to make sure that I am applying my program to the new phases of my life.
The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous says, “And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today.” That statement is pretty bold, I think. But, as it turns out, it’s oh so true. I can’t fight the changes happening in the world that directly affect my life. But I can move more smoothly through them. It’s the difference between a graceful swan-dive and a haphazard belly-flop. You end up in the water both ways, but one hurts a lot less! Do you guys remember the Serenity Prayer? I’ll bet you do. It goes: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” It’s called the “Serenity” prayer because once you have acceptance of what’s in your control, the willingness to change what you need to, and the understanding of which is which, you will experience a peace like you’ve never known. The weight of the world is removed from your shoulders and you become empowered at the same time. That’s what happens for me each time I put this prayer to use.
I’m actually practicing my swan-dive right now through a current situation: I was called back to work just last week after being furloughed for 8 ½ months. I was not sure exactly when I would be called back because the original date kept getting pushed back, month after month. I was in contact with my supervisor the entire time and from our conversations, I did not plan on having to physically return to the office for at least a few months after returning to work and instead working from home. I found out at the end of my first week back that the plan is now for us to go back into the office in another week.
My anxiety kicked in immediately after hearing this news. What about COVID? The outlook has not improved yet and the vaccine rollout is just getting underway. How am I going to work out vehicle sharing with my mom who also has some work schedule changes coming up? One of my plans was to use the few months I thought I had at home to buy a car. What about my puppy? He is almost potty-trained but not quite. I planned on having time to finish this process. What about the part-time job I took on during my furlough? I planned on using the time I didn’t have to commute to adjust to doing both jobs. On top of these things, I was just not mentally prepared for the changes.
This is definitely not the first time I’ve been stricken with anxiety over something unexpected. It actually happens pretty regularly. But years of practicing my recovery program has given me the tools I need to overcome it each time. I called my sponsor and told her the sitch. And, of course, she helped me gain some much needed perspective. Then I started praying for the strength to get through this situation in the way my Higher Power wanted me to handle it, that is, gracefully. Reflecting on the Serenity Prayer, I can’t change the fact that we are return to the office soon. I can make arrangements with my boss and HR to make the transition more slowly. I can make sure my family is ready to handle the puppy when I’m not home. I can take the necessary precautions to keep myself safe against COVID while I’m in the office. I can remind myself to not let fear stop me from doing what I need to do. I can also be extremely grateful I’m dealing with, what they call, “high-class problems” today.
It’s been a few days since I heard this news and, to be honest guys, most of my concerns have already worked themselves out. Like I’ve been told time and time again in recovery, I just had to get out of the way.
How boring would life be if nothing ever changed, right? The trick is to continue to work a solid recovery program and repurpose its tools to address each circumstance as it comes. My recovery program is working for me because I work my program! It’s just that simple. It can be for you too. You got this!
Feeling a little anxious yourself, in the midst of all this chaos? Take a look at this blog post.
Tell us how you’re putting your recovery program to use in 2021 by adding a comment below or posting to our Facebook page!
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