The Past – Our Greatest Treasure – Day 28 of 365
It is the end of the month. Usually the last week of the month was a week of fear and nerves. For many years, the last week of any month was hit or miss, whether or not we could buy groceries or pay bills… ugh the insanity.
Things are much more stable.
The last week of the month means a flurry of business meetings, and hurried discussions to get pertinent information into the Blue Sheets for the next printing … the next deadline is Feb. 01.
It was a great day to be out and about, but a little rather cold, it was quite bitter yesterday and evening with frigid cold, wind and blowing snow that fell over the morning hours. The roads were treacherous. We are not faring very well with this Winter in many areas.
There are only 51 days until Spring !!!
I set off for the train and my transit was quick and easy. We sat a fair number of folks tonight and we read from Daily Reflections.
The Treasure of the Past …
I have heard this line often … Don’t compare … Identify !!
From birth we are STUCK with the family we were born into. And from birth until TODAY, shit has happened. And the Big Book says that …
“Nothing, absolutely nothing happens in God’s world by mistake.”
For most, it is hard to conceive that all the shit that happened in our lives happened for a reason, and that nothing happened by mistake.
But I think I can see the wisdom in this statement that Bill writes to us.
We all have a past, good, bad or indifferent.
For many, based on my reflections and those I have heard over the years, there was alcohol and abuse of some form or another, that has to be made peace with if we wish to live freely and hopefully.
I could point a finger at family, friends, lovers, the list goes on and on. I could blame all these people for what they did to me, and in some cases, what I did to them. Someone pointed out this evening that “We read our Daily Reflections – but those in Al-Anon read their own as well. And that if we had them, to read, we should,” because families suffer from us as we have suffered from them.
Nothing happened in my life by mistake. Everything happened because of a reason. Whether I accept that reason or not. There was a mix of good and bad. For every Good day, there were a number of bad days. The sober family days were interspersed with drunken stupor days.
I lived a life. For the most part, I believe I did well. I survived my life.
My parents might tell you the moment I became a problem for them. And they had many problems with me. My father wanting me dead, my mother never intervening. My parents did not do gay, and for what it was worth, they surely did not do AIDS.
Alcoholism was an equal opportunity taker …
Everybody drank. Nobody escaped.
I fucked up as a young person. And there is a list of memories and activities that I remember. Some quite fondly. I can’t say that all of my past was terrible. But there were moments.
But God was looking down and placed certain people in my life at the RIGHT time and the RIGHT moment to carry me through those times.
From my childhood I had the right family, some are now long since dead, and some are still alive. And I can proudly say that YES I have family in my life who are part of my life whenever I need them.
The people who mattered stayed. And those who DON’T matter went.
We all have memories. Baggage. Wreckage of our past.
In the beginning – early sobriety – many of our young people cannot see how important their past is. BUT, they have returned again and again.
Still Alive. And for today they are sober.
It is the STAY that is important.
It takes a long time to make peace with our pasts. That takes time, people, steps, reading, and praying. Time heals all wounds. BUT the caveat here is that we have to grow to the point where we allow ourselves to be healed of the pains, hurts and scars that we carry from the past.
If we live in the past, we hang on to everything in the past.
If we live in the future, we are missing today.
Which brings us back to Today. All we have is today. 24 hours.
Life is cyclical. Repetition is a fact of life. It happens. We get it.
Meetings are cyclical. We read the same readings, we read the same books, and we talk about the same topics over and over and over again.
Why? Because we learn from repetition.
As we get sober and stay sober, we reach the point where we become courageous enough to embark on our steps. And for many that is a daunting prospect.
At a point, we begin to write. The lists, the hurts, the people and the reasons and causes. The character defects and the shortcomings.
The cleaning house stages … Steps 4 – 5 – 6 – 7 !
In step 8 we make a list of all people we have harmed and became WILLING to make amends to them all.
But 8 does not come before 4. There is an order.
Step 4 – Made a searching a fearless moral inventory.
Which is where the wreckage of our past rises. In all its gory detail. For some all that wreckage is clear, and for most it is foggy and disrupted.
Every moment we survived is a victory when we get sober.
For every bad thing that happened to us, we reap the reward once we find sobriety and peace of mind. And in time, we will (if we are able) to make amends with others, and allow them to go on with their lives, whether they remain in our lives is up to them.
We are powerless over people, places and things.
Polishing the Gem:
I said above that life is cyclical. And as we hit meetings and we share, and we work our steps – over and over again, the baggage comes up. And as we work our steps, we let some of it go, little by slowly. It may take months, years, rounds of steps and lots of 4’s and 9’s.
But the pain of the past grows fainter as we get and STAY sober.
Life is a gem, with all its facets.
And as we revisit the past, that gem comes up for a new cutting and polishing. Every time we rehash the past we take a swipe at the gem.
And we get to look at a given (particular) situation or pain from a new point of view. Because sobriety changes by the day, we change by the day, and if we grow in sobriety, the past moves farther away and the pain of the past grows dimmer.
In time, that gem gets cut and polished and refined.
I’ve not come across ANYONE who has a fully refined gem.
We are all a work in progress. And we continue to be a work in progress until we take our last breaths in this world.
The past only affects us to the degree we allow it. Just like people. How they affect us is up to us. Here we learn about boundaries.
We grow up when we get sober. Little by slowly.
And eventually we see the wisdom in “Nothing, absolutely nothing happens in God’s world by mistake.”
Because where there is pain, a lesson blossoms. Where there is strife, a lesson blossoms. And where there is hurt, a lesson blossoms…
In time – We will not Regret the Past nor wish to shut the door on it.
The past is a treasure, that’s why so many people scrap book.
Embrace it. Learn about it. Share it.
One day, Some day, you might walk into a meeting and share a story or two and that one day someone might be sitting there and identify with you and in the end you lift them up with your words …
You can make it happen.
More to come, stay tuned…