WHEN LIFE SUCKS, WORK THE STEPS

During the last two or three weeks I’ve been spending way too much time--in “woe-is-me” mode.

I have struggled to find the necessary faith to press forward optimistically in the face of my actual and/or perceived difficulties and my sense of impending disaster.

Here are some of the facts:

1. I am unemployed and have been unemployed for most of the last 2 years. (Either I am not very skilled at finding employment, and/or no one wants to hire me because I am “over qualified.”)

2. We have absolutely no money, and no evidence-backed, realistic prospects for generating any in the foreseeable future.

3. We have all the regular bills of every other family and a few other less common obstacles: my wife is blind, we have seven children, I am the only driver in the family.

The impending disaster that I fear is that I will not be able to provide sufficiently for my family in time to save it.. In time to save my children and wife from being homeless... In time to save them from having no food, no gas, no transportation.

The main problem with me wallowing in self-pity is that I am almost incapable of being kind or patient or soft-spoken or gentle while in such a pitiful emotional state. Other significant problems are that my brain is clouded and I am unable to think effectively, I focus on the impending doom I see hurtling toward my family and my inability to do anything to get us out of the way, I am unable to work productively or effectively.

In short, when I am in victim-mode, I become a terrible husband and father--unkind, fearful, angry, impatient. It is as if I am trying to drive my family away because I think they would be better off without me . . . I feel that I am just a weight around the neck of my family . . . I “know” I am going to fail my children and wife by not being able to provide for them, so I am driving them away so that when my failure is finally total and my family disintegrates because of it, they will actually want to move on without me.

So what was different today; and why?

First, two days ago, while talking with a brother in the fellowship of recovery, and trying to be honest about my emotional state, he said to me something like: “sounds like you need to do more twelve step recovery work.” I asked him what he meant and he said, “I don’t know, but that is what I think the old-timers would tell you.”

Then, last night while trying to not wallow in self-pity, while wallowing in self-pity, I got two calls from two sponsees. During those calls I was happy and focused and positive. After the calls, I continued to enjoy a window of positivity, creativity and clarity of mind.

And, I realized that my friend was right. I can’t just stop wallowing in self-pity. Instead, I have to replace it with something else. I need to stop focusing on my problems, by focusing on something else--working my program of recovery and helping others. I have to do my dailies, do step work, take and make calls, and go to more meetings. Each of these actions helps me forget myself by focusing on and carrying out my Higher Power’s will for me; they help me to remember His promises, trust in Him, and help others.

So, the results were that I was much happier today, much more kind and patient and gentle, much more creative and effective. And, while driving my wife home from the. university where she is doing a graduate program, she mentioned that she had noticed that I had done better today than I’ve been doing lately and that she really appreciated it.


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