Day 69: The Small Box Under The Tree

Sobriety’s rewards fluctuate.

Sometimes they’re hard, fast, and obvious.  Sometimes they’re soft, slow, and subtle. It’s a maze of new thoughts and behaviors. It’s finding new roads, sometimes riding down old ones, forgetting about the bumps that you used to know so well. And, for me, the process of recovery is what takes up the majority of my time, currently. Waiting on its rewards can feel like an epic line. I know I’ll get to the end, but, standing there looking up to the front, just waiting, is a real test of patience for me on some days.

Being mindful of being mindful has been helpful, but tedious. I’ve always hated being in the present, mostly because I was convinced that my present life was not a worthwhile place to hunker down. As my life improves, I’m starting to see that the present isn’t the horrible destination it once was in my mind. But, old habits die hard, and they take me out of the moment by default it seems. I’m so used to not being here, now that I’m actually here, my fucked up brain won’t let me stay.

I’m reteaching my SOB brain to stay put. Look around, ya asshole, and stay awhile. And, it hasn’t been easy. I’ll be mindful, take some deep breaths, get into the present, and then, as quick as I got there…I’m gone.

But, last night, it happened.

I was hanging out with the guy I’ve been seeing, and for the blog’s sake, let’s call him Lars. We were just talking, laughing, telling stories and being together. And, in a moment over coffee and some dessert, I felt it. I felt the room, the conversation, the warm and mellow vibe of the restaurant. I heard the clinking of glasses and silverware. Noticed my waitress turn to shimmy between two tables that left her a pretty tight path through which to squeeze. I noticed how Lars held his coffee cup. Poured his cream. How the creamer left a ring on the table.

I was there. In it. That very moment. Engaged. Alert. Attentive. Stimulated.


I wasn’t actively trying to be mindful. No deep breathing into my diaphragm. I was just, present. And it continued on throughout my evening. I found myself saying, ‘Holy shit, I’m here right now!’ And, I wasn’t afraid in those moments. I wasn’t looking for an escape or expecting some disaster. I wasn’t rehashing my past.

The gift of the present moment isn’t the big-ass package under the Christmas tree with the wide, gold bows, cascading from the top of the box luxuriously down the sides. It’s the little box, tucked between two or three larger packages. Hidden. And, inside, you may find your favorite gift of the season. One you didn’t expect, and, almost didn’t notice.

A little reminder that you’re alive. You’re more than an alcoholic and addict. The world is gracefully turning, and, you, you get to watch it, and be in it.

In this moment, my fear of the Thanksgiving holiday that’s upon us, diffuses. Stress, no stress. It really makes no difference. Because, this year, I get to be here for it. And, it’s for that I’m so very, very grateful.


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