Addiction, NA, Narcotics Anonymous, Spiritual Principles, Twelve Steps

Honesty and Serenity

My serenity was already struggling when I awoke this morning. One of those “internal controversies” mentioned in the traditions of Narcotics Anonymous had me in a sour mood last night. No need for details, suffice it to say that I see something happening within our local fellowship that has me sideways. Between the actual problem, and the bigger problems of my own ego and pride, the problem got blown way out of proportion in my head.

When I awoke, I instantly realized we needed coffee. In my mind, no coffee means no morning routine. So, I headed downstairs to go the the store. I decided to walk to the market, which was good for my soul.

Coffee in hand (I bought two bags in order to be better prepared next time), I headed back to our apartment. It’s on the fourth floor, so unless I’m really feeling ambitious, I take the elevator. I walk into the elevator and BOOM! My senses are instantly offended by the pungent odor of dog urine.

Amanda and I saw the fresh puddle yesterday on our way back from the pool. The owner of the dogs responsible had just passed us with her dogs bidding her forward. Disgusting yes, but I had given her the benefit of the doubt, hoping she would clean up after her dogs once they had done their duty.

Well, there went another piece of Kent’s serenity.

By the time I stepped out of the elevator I was fuming. As I walked down the outdoor corridor to our apartment, I formulated my plan. Once home, I opened my laptop and quickly printed off a sign letting my neighbor know to either clean up her dog’s mess, or she would be reported.

Then another note. This one to the guy who regularly leaves one of the baggage carts provided by our apartment complex, parked just outside his door after use. I cannot tell you how many times Amanda or I have returned the cart to its rightful place in the past year because of this dude’s laziness.

Both signs were very direct, even a bit caustic. Seriously though, if a person cannot take time to clean up after themselves or their pets, they need to move back home to momma! She obviously has more to teach them.

So, I get back to my apartment and make coffee. Oh man, it’s really good too. A Starbucks blend with real chocolate. I draw my principle for the day, honesty. I pray, I read, and I start to write.

Then the honesty of my mood comes knocking. I realize that I am still reeling over the events of this past week. The seemingly endless stream of money flowing to attorneys, now three in total. Lies and half-truths told about Amanda while I had to sit by saying nothing. Tens of thousands of dollars of my money being held by someone who is trying to steal it from me.

So much pressure. I feel ready to explode. Ready to cry. Ready to seek justice, if not outright revenge.

Yes, I’m ready to do so many things. All but one… I’m not ready to use. Just typing that sentence sent a chill down my spine. Unless you are a fellow addict, I doubt you can grasp the significance of facing so many challenges in so short a time without the desire to use. In a moment, my serenity returns. In that one moment of clarity, I realize that no matter how hard my diseased brain might try to slip me up in an effort to get the drugs it craves, I don’t want to use!

Then another epiphany strikes. All of the troubles of this past week have not been any special attack on Kent and his recovery. No, these are just the struggles of life that are common to us all. I’m not special, and I’m not alone. Chances are that anyone reading this message could look back on the past week and point to challenges they faced. Unfulfilled dreams and broken promises are common among us.

Yes, these troubles are hard, but they need not break us. They need not break me!

The attorneys, expensive yes, but a representation of my ability to take appropriate actions today. Actions that defend and protect the truth.

Lies told about Amanda, though painful to endure, draw us closer to each other. They also draw us closer to God, as we have no choice but to place our trust in him.

Money, yes it’s important, but I realize that the life I am striving to live, one based on spiritual principles, has no room for money to be on a throne. It’s ok to be honest about the emotions I feel about the matter, but I come back to knowing it is in God’s hands.

Even the dog urine and luggage cart are small issues when put into perspective. I took action. I not so gently encouraged my neighbors to change. The rest is up to them. I don’t need to sit in those problems. I certainly don’t have to surrender my serenity to them!

Recovery does not take away life’s challenges. Nor does it change me overnight. Rather, recovery equips me to face life’s challenges, eyes wide open, fully aware of the fact that they will always be there.

Recovery also allows me to recognize the voice of my diseased brain. When it tries to send me to some dark and lonely place, that place where using seems the only option, I can refuse it’s prompting. I can stand firm, practice spiritual principles, and face the day ahead.

I am grateful today for the challenges life brings my way. They remind me that I’m still alive, and that there is still work to be done in my life.

Have a remarkable day!


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