Someone once told me that it isn’t the “lions and Tigers and Bears that get us, it’s the flies and gnats.”
I just wanted to get clean. I just wanted to not smoke crack or shoot dope anymore. I thought that’s what “getting better” was all about. It turns out, that that is just the tip of the iceberg. That is just the very beginning. Detox, in my opinion, is the only part of the entire recovery process that focuses on the drugs. Everything else in the marathon of recovery deals with this shit show in my head. My thoughts. My emotions. My traumas. My past.
I thought I knew what my life was going to look like when I got clean. Boy was I wrong. And that’s the thing about getting to know God, and allowing his Will to work in your life; You better be prepared for it. I just wanted a job somewhere, and an apartment, and a beater with a heater. I didn’t know what was in store for me. I didn’t know about all this “Feelings shit”. I certainly didn’t want to get vulnerable or honest from my gut with someone. That shits weird. I didn’t know or suspect that I would be married soon, with four kids. Or that I would be doing what I’m doing today. But just like finding a bottom is done one compromise at a time in a negative way- finding myself is the same, equal, but opposite process. I started making positive compromises. I started taking positive risks. I started following my nudges. And they have all led me to right where I am today.
Again, I will never write, video, or speak about how I’m perfect or “fixed” in any way. I am a result of hard work, lots of prayer, and the people that I have in my life to help keep me somewhere sane. But as I’m thinking about these things today, I think Vulnerability is a key component in recovering. And in life itself. It was always something that I ran from in the past because it was uncomfortable and we all know that addiction is about avoiding the uncomfortable. So instead of sharing my self, my inner most thoughts and risking getting hurt, I would just run away and use and hide. That is Addiction’s M.O.
it’s funny the way I see and recall things sometimes. I’m thinking back to a time when I was at Porter County Jail speaking with the Therapeutic Community for men there. I remember saying something about “Get in your feelin’s Dog” Or some type of jail house spin I was attempting to put on it. But the idea here is- That there is some slang people use, “Get outta your feelins”. Which essentially is saying- “Be an addict”, “Run”, “escape”, “Hide”, from your truth. But getting better and staying clean is all about the opposite school of thought. Inventory, Ammends, Honesty, and yes, Vulnerability. “Getting into our feelings” and sharing our inner most truths and thoughts and beliefs with at least one other person. And God. And the work is never done. It is an ongoing process. It takes, like any other skill or craft, years to learn and hone. And we need people around us who can call us out on the carpet when they see us behaving badly, coping in unhealthy ways, bottling things up, or shutting down. We need to have safe environments, and safe arenas where we can openly and honestly verbalize the shit that we all go through.
I do not always succeed with this, but thank God the people I have in my life can help me see my shortcomings even when I don’t. Some times, I just internalize and bottle up until I turn into this fucking old grouchy man on the couch that no one wants to be around. Thank God for my wife Tiffany who can see it coming a mile away when my demeanor starts to change- most of the time because I am not getting my way. We call this “King Baby Syndrome” I am textbook king baby. I think we all are in recovery, at least the first several years, because were still not quite accustomed to having to sit in the “ick”. Not being able to just self medicate it all away and increase pleasure and decrease pain instantly to feel optimal. It takes time to adjust to new coping mechanisms. And I think that’s why they say “SOBER stands for Son Ofa Bitch Everythings Real”. The Growth is in the uncomfortable and learning to first identify what were feeling, process it, vocalize it, resolve it, and then let it go. I still fail at this often, but I’m willing to keep trudging along and hopefully one day it becomes, just like addiction, a learned behavior. Another reason why it is so key to stick with the winners- people who are capable of mentoring and guiding us along on our journeys.
I just took a call from my little brother. Literally just got off the phone with him. He was calling to tell me someone who he has grown close to in recovery has passed away. From an Overdose. And though this is very heartbreaking news to hear, and I’m sure for him to have to deliver to me. I applaud him for picking up the phone to try and express his feelings in the matter, process it, and listen. That is exactly what were supposed to do. And I believe that this is why they say to “Call on a good day, so it’s easier to call on a bad day.” It makes sense to me now. And it is funny to me that he called me and we talked through it all and then we both got on the topic of the tigers, bears, and mosquitos and gnats. He knew to pick up the phone during a time of extreme trial and distress. We know and can see a mile away when a Large Scale, scary, overwhelming time is testing our wits and strength. But are we capable of seeing how were being tested in the most subtle ways? If something tragic happens, it’s easy to see that I need some help to process this. But what about if my shoe lace breaks? What about a flat tire? What about losing a job? Isn’t every thing that happens in our lives either a “Lesson or a Blessin”” I think so. Although the smaller instances may seem like a non issue to most, aren’t each and every time something small or menial happens just smaller scale opportunities to be patient with the world and with ourselves? Indeed.
Apparently it’s God’s will for me to be writing this today, and to be a husband, and father of four. You want to talk about being tested daily. Jeez louise. Sometimes I feel like I’m going to pull what little hair I have left out. And some times I feel like what am I doing? Why am I here? WHAT. THE. FUCK is going on? But then I talk it out with my wife, or a friend, or with God, and come back to center and realize that I have everything and everyone that I ever prayed for. Not everything is a crisis. Not everything is cause for alarm. I cannot change the things that happen “to me” in a given day, but I can surely change the way I react to them. That’s a fact. We just do our best to stay grateful, keep things as simple as we can, stay humble, and remember that somewhere, somebody is praying for our “Problems”.
Sometimes, it’s not the Lions and Tigers and Bears that get us. It’s the Flies and the Gnats.
Are you really having a “bad day”, or was it really just an uncomfortable or unpleasant few minutes that you’ve been mentally chewing on all day?
God, grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change. The courage to change the things that we can, AND THE WISDOM TO KNOW THE DIFFERENCE.
Son. Ofa. Bitch. Everythings. Real.
You got this.
One thought on “Gnats and Mosquitoes”
Great, real post. Our son used to be told to get out of his head at recovery meetings, and my husband and I at times too. Our head is easier to deal with than our hearts – although our heads can mess with us. Keep up the good, but hard, work. You and those you love will feel the blessing part as time goes on.
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