I was “running” — I have to put it in quotes; that’s how far I’ve fallen from my own standards — so slow on Saturday morning that I was able to take the attached, crystal-clear picture in mid-stride.
Not sure if that’s a sufficient illustration of rock bottom, or if I should tell you about the time a few weeks ago, when I huffed and puffed my way to the top of a hill in the park, and I felt so awful that I stopped “running,” and doubled over and grabbed my knees. I was wheezing so loudly that a dude walking his dog stopped to ask if I was OK.
I’m not proud to admit that I took my frustration out on this poor Good Samaritan.
“I’m fine,” I snapped. “It’s hot out. And I’m not in good shape.”
I turned in a huff and started back down from whence I came, my descent mirroring the trajectory of my physical fitness over the past three months.
After commuting 90 minutes round-trip to sit in a chair for 8 hours, every single weekday for 90 days, and shifting my exercise routine to mostly low-impact yoga and walking while NOT shifting my eating habits, it’s time to face reality.
I am, as I honestly — if rudely — told that gentleman: not in good shape.
When I said “I’m fine,” though? I lied.
My level of fitness has been the measure of my worthiness, in my head, since I was 18 years old. …
But wait. Let’s not go any farther down that rabbit hole. Let’s focus on what’s actually happening right now. Folks in recovery are constantly reminded that now, today, is all we have. Living sober means facing and dealing with reality — whatever that happens to be in a given moment.
And in reality, there is no escape from the present moment. There is no escape from yourself. The secret to freedom from addiction, and eventually inner peace, is accepting who you are and the situation you’re in as exactly the way it’s supposed to be, then doing “the next right thing” over and over.
I did quite a thing yesterday. With one quick poke of my phone screen, I transferred $7,000 that I’d been saving for three years, from my bank account to my DelVal student account.
I start graduate school full-time on Aug. 23. Official orientation is THIS THURSDAY. 😱
Reality is rapidly closing in. If I think my schedule is stressful now…
I honestly have no idea what working and schooling full-time is going to feel like. I do know it’s going to throw me out of my routine, and force me to find a new recovery meeting after two years of attending the same home group with the same circle of women.
My greatest fear is not that I won’t stay sober, though. It’s that I’ll be so tired that I’ll stop getting up at 4AM to exercise, and I’ll be so rushed that I’ll stop pre-planning and packing all my meals, and I’ll continue to slide downhill into flabby, lazy, worthless…
“I think you need to accept that things change, and you adjust, and do the best you can,” my therapist told me in my last appointment, as I started tunneling into that same old rabbit hole.
That hole has been my comfort zone for such a long time! Obsessing over my fitness and the size/shape of my body has been one of my favorite distractions for more than half my life. Just like alcohol, it took my mind off reality. It also gave me the illusion of control in an uncontrollable world. If fitness equals worthiness, then all have to do to imbue my life with meaning is to work out real hard and restrict my food, forever and ever, amen!
So, in other words, I don’t really have to try a bunch of scary stuff that I might fail at, or worse, depend on other people and their unpredictable whims.
Addiction gave me something to focus on, so I didn’t have to focus on who I was and where I was going and what was really the meaning of this thing called life.
It was a way of delaying the discomfort of becoming an adult.
Well, the time for wasting time is over. I can’t put off real life anymore.
I have to get through three years of burning the candle at both ends, whatever that entails, in order to get my degree in Counseling Psychology. Then, I can pursue whatever avenues that education opens up. I have to make the sacrifices now, or wake up in five years…still sober, maybe, but standing stuck in the same damn place.
Change. Accept. Do. My therapist hit every important point on the head in one sentence.
This, right here and now, is what recovery is all about. It’s what I signed up for back in 2019, when I finally surrendered my security blanket and agreed to grow up. Quitting drinking was just the first step toward the ultimate goal: moving beyond the hang-ups that have always held me back, finding peace with who I am so I can actually experience the moments of my life, and taking the actions required to pursue my purpose. To actually get somewhere.
No getting around it: I’ve got one hell of an uphill climb ahead.
But as long as success doesn’t depend on foot speed — or lung capacity — I should be (gulp)…fine?