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My "Aha!" Moment

Updated: May 5

Sometimes it takes hitting rock bottom to find the solid ground of self-awareness. For me, that grounding came through the 12-step program, where I began a journey of profound self-discovery.

Being in the 12-Step program is like being back in school. I'm learning and growing all the time - step by step forward on my path.

In the rooms, I've found a sanctuary where I can confront my inner demons and unearth the buried treasures of my true self. It's a process akin to peeling back layers of an onion, revealing the raw emotions, tangled thoughts, and ingrained beliefs that have shaped my existence.

One of the onion layers fell off the other night in a women's meeting. I love this group of ladies - it's very diverse and the shares are so point-on and wise I sometimes wish I could record the hour and listen for the pearls of wisdom I might have missed.

The meeting topic was "tolerance." Bill W wrote that getting sober requires honesty; staying sober requires tolerance.

I loved yet hated the topic. Hated it because tolerance is something I need to work on and am horrible at. Loved it because tolerance is something I need to work on and hoped to learn something.

A lightbulb went off about halfway through the meeting. While I've often heard that acceptance doesn't mean I have to like something, I just have to accept it. But tolerance? I felt I always used "tolerance" the same way I used "patience" - as a kind of begrudging resentment - "Oh, I will tolerate your behavior!" I'd say inwardly as I glare at the person I'm annoyed at. It's something I felt superior about and pissed off at the same time.

My aha came when I realized that tolerating is me staying annoyed about something because I don't like what's being done. Like my neighbor's son practicing his trumpet at night. I tolerate it as I curse the brass instrument and whoever invented it hundreds of years ago.

I've been staying pissed off at things, because they are not the way I want them to be, and people are not behaving the way I want them to.

I sat there with the bulb glowing over my heard thinking, "Well who the hell do I think I am?" as I realized the world isn't here to make Karen happy. I know that sounds simple and pretty obvious, but for me another piece of my complicated puzzle fell into place. I became a little more whole.

It's been through the recovery program; the gentle guidance of mentors and the shared wisdom of fellow travelers, that I've begun to rewrite the narrative of my life, replacing shame with self-compassion, doubt with conviction, fear with faith.

And for all these things, I am always a grateful alcoholic.

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