Friday, January 27, 2012

Acceptance and the Change It Can Bring

Since I am new to blogging and would like to do a good job I am setting a blogging schedule for myself.  Fridays and Mondays my posts will focus more on sobriety issues, Saturdays my post will follow the Pagan Blog Project, Wednesdays will be book reviews for the Pagan Reading Challenge, and the rest of the week is yet to be determined.  So, since it is Friday, let me begin:

I really want to discuss acceptance today and Monday.  Acceptance is the core of the first step for both the 12-Step Program of Alcoholics Anonymous and the Pagan 13-Steps that I follow.  Let's be honest, without acceptance, there can be no real change.

The whole point of sobriety is not to stop using whatever substance, or performing whatever action we are addicted to, it is to gain control of our lives and to become better people!!  Obviously this requires that some changes be made.

The first step to making a change is noticing that there is a problem and that something needs to change.  for most of us, that part was easy, life sucked!! Something had to change.  Now, comes the slightly harder part, realizing that WE were what had to change.

I know many of us, sometimes for years, thought the problem was with: the landlord who wanted his rent, the utility companies that wanted their money, the employers who expected us to not just show up for work, but to be clean and sober while we were there, and to not be too hung over or jonesing too badly to work.  I mean really, what was wrong with them!! Couldn't they see we were hurting??  How about a little understanding? Cut us some slack already!  Sound familiar... I'm pretty sure it does.

Eventually, we started to realize the problem might just be with us.  Now came the hard part, accepting that WE were the problem and that WE had to change.  For me personally, this acceptance came easily, I had known for a long time that I was out of control.  Unfortunately, I didn't care.  I quite literally wanted to drink myself to death. I didn't have the guts to just slit my wrists or take the bridge, but I sure didn't want to live any longer.  Drinking myself to death seemed like the easy option; I mean, I was really good at drinking!!

Fortunately, Divinity had different plans for me.  I was eventually diagnosed with depression and went on medication for that.  Within a very few weeks I realized that there really is a lot to life, it truly does have a lot to offer.  With my depression under control, the urge to drink was gone, it totally disappeared.

Of course, just being on an anti-depressant and not being depressed (for probably the first time in my life that lasted for more than a few weeks) was not enough to keep me sober.  It worked for a few months, actually not quite 2 years, it worked for, but then the drinking came back.  Now I had to accept that not only was I clinically depressed without meds, I also was an alcoholic even with meds.

Suddenly, it wasn't so easy to admit I was a drunk.  It felt like being a failure.  I was perfectly cool with depression being a chemical imbalance in my brain-take the pill, straighten out the balance, all is well.  There is no such cut and dried treatment for alcoholism or any kind of addiction.

After losing literally everything I owned a few times, and a really great relationship, I finally knew I had to change myself, I had to want to be a better person.  Wanting to be a person who didn't drink wasn't going to be enough.

Once I accepted this, and realized that I could become not just sober, but a better person, I was on my way to a sober and productive life.  I chose to not give in to my alcoholism and to be a better person and to do whatever it took to make that happen.

This same principle applies to any behavior or attitude you might want to change about yourself.  First you have to recognize that there is a problem, an inconvenience that is ongoing and always seems to happen to  you.  Once you accept what the issue is you can decide to change this behavior if you don't like the consequences, or you can decide  the pleasure obtained from this behavior is worth the consequences.

This is a rather simple example, but it does illustrate the point perfectly.  Someone who is frequently late and wants to be more punctual must decide first what makes them late.  Do they take a way to work that is always slow due to backed up traffic?  Do they run around getting everything together at the last minute?   Do they put off getting up or getting ready until the last minute?  Are they just easily distracted by other things when they are trying to get ready? Do they just lose track of time?  Or perhaps just not allow enough time to get ready or for travel?

This person has already taken the first step by accepting that they must change something in their behavior if they truly wish to become more punctual.  Next, they must decide what  part of their behavior is causing the problem.  If they just lose track of time, perhaps they could set an alarm for the time that they need to begin getting ready.  If they have trouble getting everything they need together before they leave, perhaps they could set everything aside ahead of time so it is all together when they get ready.  I'm sure you see where I'm going with this.

That very basic example highlights how acceptance can lead to change.  Of course, it doesn't have to.  I have accepted that I am just not a very neat person.  Although I like things to be relatively picked up I am perfectly content if there is a stack of books and paperwork scattered all over my bed and the floor next to it.  Once or twice a week I straighten everything up and am very proud of how neat it looks (for about 5 minutes).  But I have decided that to me personally, it is simply not worth the effort to keep my books and papers perfectly organized all the time.  I'm actually quite happy with my clutter a lot of the time.

Since I live alone, no one else has to deal with my clutter and I don't have to deal with someone who is truly bothered by clutter.   But very frequently in life, we have to accept things in others that we really don't  like or aren't comfortable with, and they have to accept the same in us.  That is the part of acceptance I'm covering in Monday's post.

Blessed Be!

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