A quick poll of my recovery friends would result in confirmation that my least favorite saying is, “It is what it is.” It’s my least favorite because it has been said to me so many times in response to my impatience. I have been impatient with how long it took me to complete the steps, how long it has taken me to work through past trauma, how long it took me to recover from a surgery, and so on. It’s not surprising. I am an alcoholic and I like instant gratification. Fifty is around the corner and even with a near decade of sobriety, I still have more years’ experience in numbing than with feeling.
Feeling is a process and I’ve learned that it’s not linear for me. Sometimes the dots connect for me months (or years) after the fact and I’ve learned to be okay with that. I used to be jealous of others I saw in recovery who appeared to have sorted through all of their past and had it all together. I’m not anymore. I’ve learned three important things. One, they may or may not have it all together, but it’s not my business. Two, my recovery is my recovery and their recovery is their recovery. There is no purpose in comparing myself or my recovery to that of another alcoholic or addict. I’m an onion and the layers are peeled when the time is right.
Enlightment must come little by little – otherwise it would overwhelm.Idries Shah
I keep this Idries Shah quote close to my heart because it helps me remember that I learn as I grow. I cannot blame myself for not knowing what I didn’t know or the decisions I made then. I also cannot spend any more energy on wishing I was more fit, more thin, or more anything. I cannot lament the time I lost in my love affair with drinking.
I can only start where I am. This is the message that God and the Universe have been throwing my way daily (if not more) the last few weeks. Every book I read and every podcast I have listened to has sent me the same message: You are where you are.
What if, instead of asking ourselves, “why am I not a or b yet”, we saw and had gratitude that we were already x or y. Rather than wishing our sobriety had started sooner, we could be grateful it started at all. Instead of wishing we had had better health habits at a younger age, we were grateful we had them now. What if accepting where we are is the only way to get to where we are going?
It occurred to me this week that if I were driving from our home near Fort Worth, Texas to Boston, Massachusetts, I would not expect the trip to start in Tennessee. I would map it out starting in Fort Worth and I wouldn’t spend any time making myself feel bad that I’m not already in Tennessee. If I were building a house, I wouldn’t try to put the roof on before the walls were built. However, when I think of my weight or my fitness, I spend a great deal of energy beating myself up for not being further down the road or done with the building. This serves no purpose. I need to see where I am. It may not be the ultimate destination but there is a tremedous amount for which to be grateful and a firm foundation to keep building on.
Seeing where we are helps us to move forward because it involves acceptance. If I accept where I am or what my present circumstances are, I can be willing to make changes. If I deny it, I’m likely going to get stuck. In the end, you are where you are and it is what it is. Who knew?