This discussion topic about right attitudes or right actions is from one of our friends in recovery, Sean. Thanks to Sean for contributing to the group discussion and for the time he put into collecting his thoughts about recovery. If you’re interested in sharing a discussion topic, please reach out to me here.
A couple weeks ago, when I woke up in the morning, I could feel the negativity already full to the brim. It caught me somewhat off guard at the time. As has often been the case in my past, I tried to wait this one out. I wasn’t really sure what I was feeling or why and just told myself it would pass. I was just waking up and needed a couple minutes to get the blood flowing.
I realized fairly quickly that this wasn’t the case. Something was bothering me. And the fact that I was bothered, bothered me. And so it went.
At that point I didn’t want to sit down and write it out.
I didn’t want to talk to my wife.
I didn’t want to call my sponsor.
I just wanted to be left alone.
I snapped at my kids as they were trying to get ready for school. I ignored my wife.
I was in full addict mode. And I knew it.
And that just added more fuel to the fire because I began to be so disappointed in myself for not working recovery. And for NOT WANTING to work recovery. Not living up to my own expectations is a huge trigger for me. I’d been in recovery for 9 months for crying out loud! Why was I having such a hard time reaching out!? Why was I failing!?
This bugged me for a while. And it took me a while to snap out of it and finally reach out.
When I did, peace followed, and I wondered why I hadn’t done it sooner. It was around this same time that I read the following on page 146 in the White Book –
“We took the actions we knew we should be taking toward others because we did not feel like it… We stop sexting, lusting, and resenting before we feel we can. And we start taking the right actions towards others before we feel like doing them naturally.”
Later on page 147 it continues,
“When I distrust my own feelings and just go ahead and do what’s right, the miracle happens and I’m out of my dark hole.”
This was the answer for me.
Things were still unnatural.
I think maybe for the first few months of my recovery I was so excited about all the breakthroughs I felt I was making that I was running on adrenaline. Finally getting a sponsor, attending SA-L meetings, meeting new friends and making connections. But eventually the adrenaline faded and I was left with whatever I was actually doing to work my recovery.
A couple more quotes from the White Book.
“We are filled in the giving.” pg. 148
“Program people taught me that right thinking never produced right actions, but if I took the right actions, the right thinking and feelings followed.” pg. 164
On this particular day I referred to earlier, I remember becoming so disappointed in myself that I was still trying so hard to work recovery.
Why didn’t I want it more?
Why was I still forcing myself to do these things?
I wanted it, but why didn’t I feel like doing it!?
What I have come to understand is that the right attitudes will be a result of my right actions. Working the steps leads to wanting to work the steps.
I remember my first 12-Step meeting back in 2007. I didn’t want to go. I had successfully avoided dozens of meetings before I ended up at that first one. I was sure it wasn’t for me. But during that first meeting I remember feeling so awesome! That was the place for me! I loved it! I had acted and then the feeling followed. By the next week, that feeling had already faded and I found an excuse to do something else. And so it goes.
Continuing to learn that my right attitudes will follow my right actions is a tough thing for me at times. I tend to start to question,
“Will this ever become easier? Will this ever become second nature to me? Does it get easier to want to do these things right off the bat? Should it get easier? Or does recovery require this much effort in order to actually qualify as recovery? Will recovery always be so unnatural?”
I don’t know if those are good questions or not. And I don’t know the answers either. All I know is that it’s one day at a time.
Curious to hear the thoughts of others.