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Big Choices, Tiny Miracles

Choices in Recovery

Big Choices, Tiny Miracles

In recovery, we mark milestones and acknowledge personal growth in steps that come – if we stay on the path of personal progress – at comforting intervals, after predetermined, color-coded periods of time or in a succession of steps that, with self-reflection and hard work, move us along the same journey taken by those who have gone before us.

It is easy to see and celebrate the big moments. It is easy to cheer a return to financial stability . It’s easy to recognize when a promotion or increased responsibility at work means you’re trustworthy again. It’s easy to acknowledge accomplishment when legal restrictions are lifted or sentences completed. It’s easy to congratulate someone who faced emotional turmoil without succumbing to a substance to dull the pain. No one has difficulty recognizing the immense progress a person has made when custody is restored and children return home.

From the heights of our success, we can look back and marvel at the difference between where we started and the view from the top. We can easily identify the changes in ourselves and wonder how such a transformation occurred, forgetting that our great leap was really a series of deliberate, determined steps.

As we sit just this side of 2017 and the promise of a new year, it’s easy to mark off the big moments. But it’s not our big moments that truly keep us in recovery. There were times when we were hanging on to recovery by the hour, by the minute, truly wondering if we were going to make it. If it was worth it; if we were worth it. Each second we stayed strong was a tiny miracle.

Each molehill-of-an obstacle overcome, each errant thought pushed aside, each fear or weakness or joy addressed instead of medicated, each is a tiny miracle, too. One that we’re intensely in control of; one whose impact is startlingly immediate. One that could have easily gone the other way.

Old-timers talk about newcomer meetings as essential for their sobriety. The newly arrived’s raw pain is a reminder, often at just the right time, of their own lows, their own wounds, the desperation that brought them in in the first place.

But however far apart the stretches between our “big moments” become, those moments are built on the backs of seemingly inconsequential decisions and occurrences.

No one throws a party every day to celebrate the tiny miracles of their right choices. But as you catalogue the ups and downs of 2016, remember that each major win is really a million little ones.

But they only seem so inconsequential because there are so damn many of them. There is a choice in every second; every second is a new choice. The paradoxical beauty is that the better my choices, the more I have to make. The more I get to make. The more chances I have to choose wrong; the more fulfilling the promises I see come true.

When you woke up, did you automatically reach for the stash by your bed? Had you put one there? When you picked up your keys today, did a liquor store flash in front of your face? Did you go there? When you found yourself with unaccounted-for free time, did your mind race with ways to get to old haunts, with the chance to indulge old habits with no one the wiser? Even if you did, were you surprised? Were you surprised that you were surprised?

I don’t pray, but I ask for help.

Every day I ask in the morning for the strength to handle “whatever” and at night I ask that the day’s struggles just be “enough”. Some days I’m perpetually whispering “whatever” and “enough”. Some days I wrestle with 86,400 choices; some days I’m lucky and its just one.

No one throws a party every day to celebrate the tiny miracles of their right choices. But as you catalogue the ups and downs of 2016, remember that each major win is really a million little ones.

We don’t formally mark each one, but each one marks us.

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Christina is a Yankee transplant, ardent bibliophile and news hound living in the South. She's a daughter, sister and wife, and staunch supporter of women in the rooms and everywhere else. She is also an atheist living in long-term recovery, which for her means working a 12-step program that takes her closer to the good orderly direction the universe hands out every day and reintroduces her to parts of herself she thought she'd never see again. She's also learning to deal with the limitations - and gifts - of physical and mental health diagnoses that remind her that life requires much frustrated shaking of the fists, a sense of humor, a thick skin and sugar, so much sugar.


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