Monday, June 14, 2010

Sober is as sober does

Funny things happen in life. And when one is sober, one is really present to them. I find there are more and more 'a-ha!' moments in a day. If you haven't had an 'a-ha!' moment, I wish you one. I wish you many. If you just get the one, though, you'll become a fiend for more. Its when you feel, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that you just got let in on a big secret. A divine secret. And then you are laughing along with God.

God is a concept that some people can't or won't digest. I know that, for most of us, we either ran from religion, or felt abandoned by God, or had it shoved down our throats as kids, or some variation on that theme. At some point, the whole God thing didn't work. Our higher powers became the things we craved; we worshipped these things, be it alcohol, drugs, love relationships, etc. We shaped our lives around the acquiring of these things. We loved the ritual of the worship. Little shot glasses, spoons and fire, loading a bong, etc. We were obsessed. I was obsessed. 

When I got sober, I didn't mind the God talk so much, I just didn't think it applied to me. I had done a lot of spiritual research, and I felt there was something.  It wasn't that I felt there was a lack of something greater than me, I just didn't have access to that. Other people did, and that was good for them. 

And then, perhaps because I was open to a different experience, I was able to see the miracle of this thing, this ineffable benevolence that surrounded me. It began to prove its existence to me in various ways that left me speechless. I will recount the first time, and I will recount the last, and suffice it to say there have been hundreds in between.

The first time I experienced the grace (that I took notice of, mind you) was at the end of my first year sober. I had been renting a car (literally, from a rent a car place) for nearly a year at $600 a month, since crashing my car in the first month of sobriety. I couldn't afford this, but I didn't really know how to buy a car, and register it, and all that sort of thing. But then I seriously couldn't make it work anymore and afford rent, so I panicked. Old ways of thinking came into play. Having been a burlesque dancer in the early 90's ( and what I mean is not the kind of exotic dancer you see today; this was old school, pasties and g-strings, long gowns and gloves) it was natural to assume that this was a viable source of income for me, here at the age of 40. With a year sober. So me and my brilliant idea went to a local strip club and and observed the hijinks that happen in such places. Obviously the vibe had changed; girls walked around in what we used to strip down to, and climbed all over the men. The smell of alcohol was overpowering. I knew this was not going to work. So I surrendered, absolutely. No more big ideas in my back pocket; I was out of ideas completely, and I said so to God.  "God, okay, I give up. I have no idea what to do next. I would love some guidance. I'm done." So about ten minutes later, an old friend from ancient times came up to me. It had been many years since I had seen him. He sat down to catch up on things, asked about my kids, my life, and of all things, what kind of car I was driving.  I told him about the rental, and that being why I was there, and how I realized I couldn't go back to that way of making money. And he said this- "Ashley, I've known you for a long time. I want to help you. Let me help you get a car." And he did. Two weeks later he bought me an old Infiniti. He said, "don't even try to repay me. Just pray that I find a pretty young Eastern European wife!" Because I no longer had to pay for the rental, I dind't have to find a second job, which was good since I was already working full time. And I believe that, when I fully surrendered, God realized that was a good time to show me exactly how effective that stance is in communing with him and doing his will. After this, I strove to surrender every chance I realized I wasn't, and I still do. 

And the last time- Just last week, I woke up and realized that I was really about to be in trouble financially. I have a great part time job at the channel, but its not enough to cover my life with two kids when their dad isn't paying child support. So again, I surrender, "God, my life is yours. Show me what to do, who to help, what your will is, and help me to stay open to the next indicated action. Thank you for my life. " I pretty much say this all day long anyway, but this was when I felt a particularly strong wave of financial fear wrap its icy fingers around my heart. And that day, I went to a place where people in recovery meet, and met a person who I help through recovery to drive with her on an errand, and on the way we spotted a squirrel writhing on the ground. My friend called her dad while I held a t shirt up to protect it from the baking hot sun. Her dad said it sounded like its back was broken and we'd have to kill it. WHAT?!? No way. No effing way. But there it was. And so I looked around for a rock, then I thought I would drive over it, my heart just breaking about the whole thing. I looked at the little guy, his shiny black eye watching me closely, and said, "little guy, shit! I don't know what to do, I can't leave you like this, forgive me, okay? I want to help you." And then he started to die. I could see the death throe and knew I didn't have to kill him. I sat there, holding Scott Weiland's t shirt as shade for the poor little thing, and cooed gently to him as he died. Then I went to walk a friend's dog; her ankle was broken, and we had a nice long visit. I hadn't known her very well and it was nice to make a new friend. She had married someone that I absolutely had a crush on in the 80's; I hadn't known that when I met her, but when it became clear, it was such an interesting view, thinking of his poster on my wall, and talking to this woman about our exes. Somehow, regardless of the status of her ex, we had married the same man. Or the same type of man. It was clear that fame and fortune do not matter one iota when it comes to addiction, narcissists, ex-husbands, co-parenting issues...we are all the same. It hurts the same. It destroys the same. We recover the same. Then I left and got a call from a friend, who said, "Ashley, I have a check here with your name on it. A token of appreciation for bringing us our first client." 

At this stage in the game, I skip over the panic and drama of scrambling to fix stuff, to scam, plan, scheme, go into desperation...I ask God to show me what next, and then I do it. If I had gone into overdrive, I would not have been there for my friend who I went on the errand with, wouldn't have been at the place where people in recovery convene to meet the girl who asked for my help, wouldn't have been there for that squirrel as it died, or my friend with her broken foot and her dog that needed walking. That is what God wanted of me. 

When I show up and do God's will, its all provided for. I don't get bells and whistles, but I also don't want or need them. Wait. I do sort of get some bells and whistles- this year, I posted on facebook that I needed a cosigner for a car. I now drive a 2006 Lexus. My first almost new car. My first really safe car. I was able to give that old Infiniti to a sweet young couple in recovery expecting their first child. I don't tell any of this to say, yay for me, I do good for others- I say this to show that THIS GIVES ME MY LIFE. This is my life. Others are my life. And they look out for me. That is what recovery is all about- a loving tribe of people who have woken up out of their stupors, ever seeking either God, or more clarity, helping others, working to uphold their community and to live from principles. If that isn't a utopia, I don't know what is. Its a growing movement, and I am honored to be a part of it. 

No comments:

Post a Comment