I thought about not going to AA tonight. I mean, I’m dictating this at 6 PM and I’ve been in the office writing for hours. I’m working on a revise\resubmit on a first-authored manuscript. The reviewers have a very positive tone but are asking for fairly major revisions. It feels like there’s no end in sight, and the draft of my response letter is due to my mentor on Monday. This draft is the crux of my beginning additional analyses for this project, and so for me to progress with the revision I need to first respond articulately to the reviewers’ comments about my introduction and methods. Now, at 6 PM on a Friday, I am no longer articulate.
So what the heck does this have to do with AA?
Well, first, my brain is mush. Seriously, seeping out of my ears, mush. AA requires me to be present, listen, focus, and self reflect. It requires my brain. My current state of brain-mush doesn’t mean that I cannot rally, but it would be a lot easier not to.
Second, I’ve not fueled appropriately today. Coffee + water + 1 meal of leftover chicken and veggies doesn’t work well over a 12-hour stretch (which is the total length of time between my waking and would-be returning home post-meeting). I’m loathe to buy food even though 9pm feels too late for dinner. My current hunger doesn’t mean I cannot make it through, but it would be a lot easier not to.
Third, I’m heading back to the office early in the morning to write. I want to go the the market to see my favorite people (here’s looking at you 2Chicks and VGs!). With the past 6 weeks of traveling and dog sitting I’ve not been to the Market in AGES. (And let us not forget that visiting the Farmers Market and the downtown Square keep me sane while living here in Knoxville) So, I need an early bed and early rise to be able to enjoy my day AND be productive tomorrow. My need for 8 hours of sleep doesn’t mean I cannot stay out til 9pm, but it would be a lot easier not to.
[Sidenote: my once young, late nighter self is cringing with the realization than I’m now an early nighter. My ex-wife would be AMAZED.]
Going home, eating dinner, watching Netflix, and having an early bed would be a lot easier than going to AA tonight, but I am going anyway. (Come on, you had to see that coming? No?)
Since returning home to Knoxville, I’m struggling to find my schedule, which means I’m also struggling to keep all those healthy habits I maintained in DC. Exercise is going fairly strong. Sleep and food prep are pretty terrible. Work is scattered – mainly due to lacking sleep and wonky wake times. But, AA is consistent.
I made myself a manageable pledge: meeting 3 times a week. Tonight will be my second this week. Sunday, my third. And then we’ll start the week again. I am going to AA tonight because it’s necessary. Because it refuels me. Because it’s a manageable commitment. Because I’ll feel more self-attuned by giving myself that one hour to just be with folks who get it. Who understand that part of me that shall not be named. Or, at least the part that went unnamed for years. Alcoholism.
Before leaving the office tonight I threw a question up to the Universe: How am I to manage this? This revise/resubmit. This move. PhD year 3. Sobriety. My new solo chapter.
As is my practice, I drew three cards. Tonight, they were Danielle LaPorte #Truthbombs given that my goddess cards were safely tucked up at home.
I was a worshipper of “pushing through” for many years. Of control. Of “You’ve got this.” For decades (literally) pushing through felt like the easier choice. Yeah, I’ve done “easy”. Done isolation. Done unfeeling. Done ignoring. Being sedentary. Overeating and starvation.
Pushing through is heartbreaking. Soul destroying. It was the path to my erasure.
I will not be erased. I will not worship pushing through. I will not become heartbreak and erasure.
So if not pushing through, then what?
I will move with the intense scientific writing and the tiredness that thinking brings. I will move with the excitement and anxiety of Year 3 PhD expectations. I will move with the discomfort of AA. With the challenge of taking time for me. The challenge of checking in to me. I will move with this new solo, living singly, loving myself wholeheartedly, communicating openly, being honestly. I will move with.
Gentle. Easy. Gently. With ease.
Isn’t the Universe humorous?
I will approach these changes, these challenges, these opportunities and experiences gently. With compassion. Calmly. With peace in my heart and love in my mind. (Yes, we’ve established it’s my brain that needs redirecting toward love and generosity). I will redefine “easy” away from avoiding or pushing through, and toward “moving with gentleness”.
You can and you will.
I did go to AA tonight. I was present. I did listen and self-reflect. I shared. It was not easy, but it was oh so beautifully simple.