Yesterday was Ash Wednesday, and I chose to skip my normal Wednesday night meeting to attend a church service. (It was my first *ever* Ash Wednesday experience) You see, I've found through my attendance in "the halls" of AA and Nar-Anon that this whole recovery thing really comes down to my spirituality. So choosing church over a meeting made sense to me, so that I can learn more and further my relationship with my higher power. Let's pause right here for a quick flashback... I was raised in a cult, and the act of me going to a church is... well, let's just say, a miracle. I'll have a specific post soon to explain the shame and guilt and process of how I went from one extreme to the other, until I finally found the middle ground. But for now... after almost 2 decades of shunning religion and any sense of higher power, I finally allowed grace and mercy to come into my heart and let go... and let God. Two decades. Needless to say there are a *lot* of things I need to get off my chest.
As I was driving to church, the correlation between Step 4 and Ash Wednesday struck me. For those of you unaware of the steps, Step Four is "Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves." Ash Wednesday, from what I've gathered, reminds us of our mortality and our humanity, and the fact that we all carry sin and shame inside ourselves. Both concepts require some heavy footwork and internal honesty... and in my opinion, I think they both take a huge amount of courage. I'm going to tell you right now, in case I haven't already said this before, but most people who find themselves addicted to drugs or alcohol, often are found with a dual-diagnoses of some form of mental health issue. It could be depression, PTSD, bi-polar disorder, etc... whichever it is, most addicts don't want to face the pain that is deep-seated in their soul. Something is broken inside, and it's terrifying to face it. So there's drugs to dull it and create a whole different world instead. So being sober, and making a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves... and coming to terms that we are human and we're all going to pass away one day... that my friends takes courage. And as the quote from Marcus Tullius Cicero says above: "A man of courage is also full of faith."
This season of lent, I have decided to stop swearing. It may sound trivial to some, but I really do have a potty mouth. Sometimes I hear myself and I think: "Did I really need to use the F word that many times in that sentence?" The main reason it's important to me is not because I think swearing is "wrong" per-se, I definitely think there is a time and a place for everything... but it has become so second nature to me, that I'm doing it without being aware of it. It's very important to me to stop old patterns and habits that really have no practical use. I started swearing after I left the cult because I wasn't allowed to swear growing up. So the root beginnings were rebellion and probably a little bit of a shock factor. I also think it's important for me to curb this behavior, so that I can expand my language use and find more creative ways to express myself. I'm beginning to work with more people one-on-one as my client list is now expanding with my business, so I'd like to be more polite and courteous while still maintaining my own personality. Someone who I totally respect once said something along the lines of: 'I want to still be funny without being hurtfully sarcastic.' And that's basically my reasoning behind not swearing. I don't think that I need to impose my potty mouth unto others, unless I just got shot with a staple gun or something. Also, another person who I respect mentioned that when they find themselves breaking their lent promise, they would be donating $5 to a charity at the end of the season, so I'm following suit. It's been about 24 hours and I owe $10. I definitely think this will help me stay more mindful.
As I wrap up this post for today, I leave you with a little note about myself. It took extreme courage for me to post all of this, but I did so because I want to share what has worked for me to get to a better place mentally, spiritually and recovery wise. I want you to know that there is hope out there and that miracles do happen in this life, you just have to open your eyes to outside of your own world-bubble. I write my blog as if I'm talking to a room of strangers. It causes me less anxiety to speak my truth to complete strangers than it does to people who know me, and more specifically, who have known the "old" me. I still have a lot of work to do, and worrying about how other people will think of me as I am now is still a terrifying thought. But I came across a quote last night that I'm going to use in the face of adversity for this situation, should it ever arise: "I didn't change, I just see things differently now." Being sober and being on this path to being healthy mentally and spiritually really changes one's perspective. It certainly has changed mine.
My favorite scripture from last night's service and will now be my mantra for the next 45 days:
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.
Thanks for listening.
Until next time,
Day 292 sober from alcohol
Day 191 free from nicotine