Twelve-step programs are chock full of slogans and phrases. “Keep coming back”, “It works if you work it”, “Take the cotton out of your ears and put it in your mouth”, “Dealing with life on life’s terms”, “This is a spiritual, not religious program” to name a few off the top of my head. The mantras were easy to remember and keep in mind. They made sense when explained and they helped to break through the fog of fear, insecurity and raw emotions of early sobriety and recovery. The one that truly resonated for me was, “through our inability to accept personal responsibility, we were actually creating our own problems.” Kind of easy to see how that one stuck with me right? My inability to accept personal responsibility created problems well into my sobriety. Like the time, I got my electricity turned off for not paying my bill on time at four years clean and sober. Or the time I unknowingly drove around on a suspended driver’s license for over a year because of an unpaid parking ticket. Or up until six or seven years ago how I used to regularly bounce checks. Yes, I related to that phrase closely for a long time.
But the one I absolutely could not stand to hear, especially when directed at me specifically was “you’re right where you’re supposed to be.” I hated that phrase for years. What did it even mean for fuck’s sake? That’s right, that phrase brought out the f-word (although it doesn’t really take much). People usually said it to me after I’d expressed intolerance, frustration or outrage over something or someone’s behavior. It used to set my teeth on edge. Looking back, clearly I didn’t like where I was emotionally or mentally or spiritually. So it never helped to tell me I was “right where I was supposed to be”. You see, it was my lack of willingness to accept people, situations or myself that caused my frustrations or intolerance. Back then I didn’t know any better.
Today I feel like I’m much more accepting of myself and my life. But is it right where I’m supposed to be? I keep feeling like I should be further along in my spiritual growth, in my search for a new job (hello, I’ve sent my resume to one place as a referral from a friend with no results), in my physical fitness endeavors, in my personal relationships with family, in implementing my ideas to do more with this blog site and I can go on and on. Ah, dear me, here I am “should-ing” all over myself. This is where I go back to the phrase I most related to years ago and turn it on its ear.
Today, through my ability to accept personal responsibility I’m actually creating the life God wants for me. I am committed to maintaining a fit spiritual and physical condition, one day at a time. I am working on what direction to take my job search by looking and searching within myself. That takes time, effort and insight. My personal relationships with family are contingent upon meeting them where they are, not where I think they should be. Not an easy concept to live, but it’s working slowly but surely. As for the blog site, I’ve managed to consistently post in the manner I’ve intended for now. I do none of these things perfectly or even as consistently as I’d like, but I keep at it no matter what. Eventually, that yields progress, which is always the better thing to aim for. Progress, not perfection- one of THE best slogans EVER! So I can say with mild reluctance that I am right where I’m supposed to be.