The long version of the Serenity Prayer has a great phrase: “accepting hardship as a pathway to peace”. After a long life of taking care of others, single parenting, and a dealing with a large family enslaved in addictions; I am ready for some peace and quiet. Often, I am perfectly happy to be alone. I have gone as long as 4 days without speaking a word to anyone; even to myself. I like to practice quiet. Have you ever been to a silent retreat? One of my old friends in program practices silent retreats in her own home for whole weekends. I am still working on being that disciplined. The closest I have come is in not speaking. Somehow, the TV or radio keeps me company. I am a work in progress.
The AA 12 Step program attempts to teach us to be serene and at peace no matter how much crisis and confusion is going on. I will let you know when I achieve that. 😊 On most days and on most occasions, I can cope well. I am like the proverbial duck on water. I look like I am swimming along peacefully, but under the water, I am peddling like all get out. Serenity s all about radical acceptance. To radically accept everything, with no exceptions as it is in G.O.D.’s time and in harmony with the universe is the objective. Serenity is an action. Not reacting and waiting are very powerful verbs. I was told to wait 24 hours before responding to anything that threatens my peace. This allows me a chance to hand things over, and it allows enough time for the solutions to come. It is worth the wait.
The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature and God.
~ Anne Frank
As we celebrate our collective freedom, it only makes sense to sit down and make note of just how free it is to be sober and completely at ease with oneself and the universe at last. I am still pretty much a loner. I do love people, but I prize solitude more. As others clamor for more food, more fun, and more of whatever; I retreat into the quiet and peace that I craved for so many years.
What a relief to be able to wake up post holidays to know where I went, who I was with, what I said, and what I did; and not be ashamed of any of it. That to me, is true freedom. I did not have to impress, dress, or stress for anyone or anything. What a joy of freedom I feel to know that all days are of equal value. There are no special days, holidays or vacations from this disease. No amount of alcohol or anything will bring me greater joy than to be alive, to be connected to the universe, and to be truly free. I will toast my lemonade to that!
My daily reading was about acceptance and acting as if. The questions were: “What person, place or thing do you have trouble accepting today?” Can you act as if you are in acceptance? Wow, I found myself struggling to accept a rainy drive in heavy traffic this morning. I had trouble accepting the truckers who seem to dominate and intimidate drivers in mid and mini sized cars such as mine. And, I am struggling to accept the choices people are making this week that will effect millions adversely in the long run.
When I have that many things eating my lunch, there is something wrong in my life and head. One wise woman in this program used to say, “When you cannot afford to pay your rent, why are you letting people live rent free in your head!” She also advised that any time I let people get to me, I am in actuality handing them my serenity and peace on a platter. So, my decision is to let these things hang in my head and heart, spoil my day, and distract me from living the moment, or I can act as if all things will go as they will go and according to Hp’s timing and planning. Life is so much better when I choose the latter. How can you act as if today?
I for one need to remind myself that I am enough, all is good in the universe, and that I am doing the best I can with what I have. So much of life reminds of how we are either too much of something or not enough of another. We hear hourly how bad things are going in our world and country. And, there is plenty of pressure to be the best, biggest, strongest, and toughest winner in our world. How do we remain serene and sane in a culture that does it’s level best to knock us down and keep us feeling as if we are coming up short?
Two decades ago, I decided I needed to be reminded daily that I am enough, the world is a good place, and that I have assets to offer my loved ones. I began to write 5 daily affirmations starting each one with ‘I am absolutely’. Then I write 10 good/proactive things I did the day before that support my sobriety (like reading, writing, exercise, etc.). And, I also write 5 things that I am grateful for (starting out with the phrase ‘I am absolutely grateful for/that’). This daily ritual centers me, and and I find it to be most valuable in my mood and sobriety. When the storms of life toss me about, I know I have done my best to right my ship. Stay in the boat, keep rowing, and stay in harmony and balance with life.
One of my favorite readings from the Big Book is on pages 449-452 (yes, I am old school, and still use the 3rd edition) on acceptance. Anytime I find some person, place or thing unacceptable to me, when I hear in my head the “F” word being uttered, and when nothing seems to sit right with me and my ways; I surely need a refresher course on acceptance.
Does that mean we must all be nice and compliant no matter what? No, but I can speak my truth peacefully and quietly. Consider this: no one can hear you when you are shouting nonsense. And most folks will put up their guard and get defensive when they think they are being attacked. Using “I” statements and speaking about feelings will cause fewer arguments and may just result in being heard. Isn’t that what we all want anyway? Acceptance is the key to my serenity.