Days 212-218: The Dark, The Meadow, and The Island

When I started this blog, it was my hope to write everyday.

Nugget upon nugget of wisdom, pain, and growth.

That was my thought at the onset of sobriety. My fantasy. Each day unfolding, yielding gems of knowledge and truth. And, in some ways, that has been the case. I wake each morning clear and fresh. No remnants of alcohol twisting their way through my blood and brain. But, not every day has proved to be a golden one. And, while that isn’t a major surprise, it has become apparent that the darkness that we all sometimes fall into, sober or not, can be our greatest teacher.

So went this week. Which I will compartmentalize for you. Not only because I did not have the motivation, hope, or wherewithal to write, but, because there was not much to say. Not until the week ended, after a walk through a pitch black forest, could I step into the meadow, sun beams abound so bright I could see them even after closing my eyes. A lesson in myself so great, that it hardly warranted the seven posts this week lacked. For, if I had written this week, day by day, I may have missed it.

The week started with a strange permission. My therapist told me to be compassionate to myself. And, in therapist-speak that means, don’t beat yourself up. And, so, when Monday came and went, without an AA meeting, without writing, without reading, without exercise, without human contact for the most part, I lay in bed and forgave myself for my inactivity. And, so it began, a week long bed rest, in which I let myself off the hook for nearly everything.

I lay in bed, not attending an AA meeting until Saturday. I told myself that I needed a break. That my only job was to apply for jobs. And, between my walks to my own coffee pot and the Starbucks conveniently located around the corner, that is pretty much all I did. Surf the internet for job postings and guzzle inordinate amounts of coffee.

It did not take long for my brain to go mad. What some people in AA refer to as race brain. I quickly became discontent with everything. Myself, my life, my body. The people in my life from Lars, to my most convivial acquaintance. I felt that I was enveloped in a lonely, dark cloud, hovering right over my bed. Lars, busy with his work, band, and social commitments was booked until the weekend. And, I suddenly, in a state quite outside myself, did not care. I did not want to see or talk to anyone. I felt as if what little I once had to offer had evaporated into the ether.

The week went on, hopeless and margin-less. I let the darkness take me. And, did so with compassion. I did not judge the sad sack I had allowed myself to be. In fact, I felt deserving of it. All this work in sobriety, all this work on my 4th step, and for what? For what, I asked? The hole grew so big grew that it felt as though nothing could fill it. Not even a drink. And, normally, I would say that that is progress. Because, for a time, drinking was my great problem solver. But, this un-fillable hole, there was nothing progressive about it. To feel something that feels un-healable, not with human contact, food, drink, cigarettes, it’s inexplicable. As a solution based person, I ran over and over again in my head, anything that would even partially fill this growing void. It felt as though even God had taken a vacation.

And then, the light bulb.

If it were true, if God wasn’t here. Where then, was he? Where would I find him? A seemingly singular solution to a formless problem. And, my great inner abyss softened and widened. I needed to go find God. But, where? And there, in my mind’s eye, the Atlantic ocean, thousands of miles away, poured into my heart, filling every dark, lofty space. As I flew over it, a red line crawling across a map, just like an Indiana Jones movie. And, the little red star marking the end of it’s flight….Ireland.

Since college, Ireland  has been the home to my heart. Lush green, winding music spilling out of quaint little doors, prose and literature so rich it’s like a ten pounds of butter or cream to the soul, a history wrought with so much angst and violence, and it’s independence and conquest so great, valorous is only one of the words that fails to fully encompass it’s stamina, will, and heart.

So, I woke from my sleep on Saturday afternoon, literally and figuratively. I went to pick up Lars for our AA home group’s quarterly pot luck. And, I ate, chatted, and sat in a meeting before going home and watching movies with Lars and his cat. And Sunday, when I woke up and gathered my things before meeting my sponsor, my whole heart was different. No longer comprised of a vast emptiness, but of vocation and determination. Back to AA, back to recovery, back to the steps. Because on this morning, it’s a time for figuring things out. Figuring me out. Seeking something that I am suddenly sure, beyond any doubt, I can find.

It’s a time for negotiating, compromising, and planning. I have to finish my 4th step. And, then, my 5th.

Because I’m going to him. I don’t care how. I’m going to find God.

And, I know he’s on the Island.

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