If you’re not familiar with AA’s Twelve Steps, don’t worry none. Just follow along and you’ll get the gist.
When I worked Step One I was in horrible, emotional pain. Nightmarish pain that’d wake me up at night. Day in and day out pain unlike anything I’d felt in my life.
And that pain was with me up until after I’d worked my Fifth Step. Then after Step Seven I started to really feel that peace, that everything was gonna be okay. That overwhelming and underlying good feeling that comes from walking a spiritual path.
When I started making my Eighth Step list I wasn’t motivated by pain so much anymore to finish the steps. I was motivated because I wanted something more than what I’d always had in life. I wanted more of the happiness that I’d been given. I was still willing to do whatever it took to stay sober but the willingness came from a different place.
For maybe half of my life I’ve been unhappy. Discontent with how my life was going, what I was doing. Sitting where I do now I know that unhappiness is on me. Sure, I was just doing what I knew how to do but I’d made myself miserable. I wanted something more from life and I knew that making the Eighth Step list and making my Ninth Step amends would help change fundamentally who I was. I’m passive in life and stepping outside of myself, going beyond my limitations was something I knew I could do. And it all started with asking god for help. And being willing, of course.
So when I got home from work today I tried to take a nap but I just couldn’t rest for whatever reason. I went downstairs and the cats were yelling because their food bowl wasn’t full enough. Then the robot vacuum tangled itself up in the Christmas tree skirt and was about to tumble down the stairs.
With not getting a nap and the cats and the vacuum, I was losing my patience. Ugh. Plus, I hadn’t had dinner yet.
So then I’m eating cereal and trying to read my meditation books, snap me out of whatever funk I’m in. I picked up the first one and rolled my eyes. Ya, I know about that. I picked up the second one and was like, “fuck I’ve read all of this before.”
I felt like the disgruntled person that I’d been most of my life. Restless, frustrated, and overall just discontent.
When I picked up the third one it’s about a caterpillar on a leaf. YES. It sounded a straightforward bell, something simple that I could latch onto. A concept without complex thoughts and overly wordy spiritual truths.
So the caterpillar spends much of his life eating the same leaves, day in and day out. But then something happens and it grows into something more, it turns into a butterfly. It can fly wherever it wants, sample the sweet nectar from a whole world of flowers. It’s not limited to the leaves that it’s always had. It’s been graced with a newly found freedom.
It got me thinking that I can eat the same leaves I always have. I can have my same life. I can be constantly frustrated and throwing my hands up in the air. Or I can let go and do something different. Be something different. I can be a fruity butterfly.
I got on my knees afterward and prayed, asked God for help, help me live that better kind of life. That I know about.
After I said my prayers the cats came over, trying to love on me. And then I gave them some love back. Life’s just not about me. When I get outside of myself and do for others, life takes on a new meaning. One that feels full.
Even though I’ve been sober I still need to pray for willingness, still need to pray for help. It’s that old saying that “just because I got sober doesn’t mean I get to stay sober.” Sometimes the dysfunction kicks in and I just want to give up, hide from my responsibilities, and not deal with life.
But really I don’t want that life anymore though. I’m willing to do whatever it takes just like I became willing to make my amends. I want my life to have meaning, to have purpose.
I want it to be big. Cosmically big. Butterfly big.