I visited the optometrist yesterday. It’s one of those “responsible” things I do now that I’m in recovery. I have a family physician, a dentist, a counselor, and now, an optometrist. Each of these professionals plays a significant role in my health and life.
As Amanda and I searched for frames, I was amazed to see how many different designers have entered the eyewear market. Names such as Polo, Coach, Kate Spade, even Brooks Brothers filled the racks. I secretly wanted one of the Brooks Brothers frames to work, but they were simply not a good match with my facial features.
Eventually, I was not even putting my current glasses back on between the pairs I was sampling. I would simply stand there as Amanda placed one pair after the other on my head. All she needed was a quick glance, and I would hear her exclamation. “Nope.” “Oh, definitely not.” “Awful!”
When in comes to matters of taste, my wife is very decisive. So when a pair of glasses failed her quick inspection, I knew it wouldn’t do. After all, she has to put up with whatever glasses I pick for the next year at least. All I have to do is look through them. She has to look at them!
Finally, she slid a pair of frames into place, and I knew we had a winner. There was a brief pause. She tilted her head back and slightly to the side. She smiled. “Perfect!”
I should have and could have stopped looking right then, but there were still two racks we hadn’t looked at. So, I dragged her over to a couple more racks, only to realize that there is no improving on perfection.
Mission accomplished, I tracked down the tech who was helping me and completed my order. Those new glasses should be in sometime around the middle of the month. Something to look forward to.
When Amanda declared that set of frames to be perfect, that should have been enough. It should have satisfied my need. I should have been happy. So why did I keep searching? Why was I not satisfied? Why wasn’t perfection good enough? After all, I trust her implicitly, knowing she always has my best interests at heart.
The answer can, at least in part, be found in the spiritual principle of acceptance. I still struggle with the idea that anything about me is good enough. I can still be amazed when something I do turns out well.
Accepting the fact that an outcome is positive requires that I accept my role in it. Therein lies the challenge, for if I accept that I have done something well, I have nothing over which to punish myself. No room for self-loathing. No room for doubt.
As a recovering addict, I love to beat myself up. I love to think of myself as unworthy. Or allow myself to become filled with self-doubt, wondering when the bottom will fall out of a good situation. How long until I mess this up?
If my addiction has a voice, then it is loudest when these thoughts of self-doubt or self-loathing come to mind. The voice of my addiction wants to defeat me. It wants to derail my recovery, and convince me that using drugs will somehow make things better. The voice of my addiction is a master of manipulation and deception.
A fellow recovering addict, one for whom I have great respect, shared with a group of us the other night that we have all achieved a level of perfection in our recovery. That perfection is reflected in our clean time. He reminded us that if we have not taken drugs today, then we have stayed perfectly clean, just for today.
He went further to say that this perfection grows with every passing day. In my case, today marks 1 year, 8 months, and 3 days clean! Shoot, that right there is enough to make me cry. A long sting of perfection. What an answer to the voice of my addiction! “No, I don’t screw everything up! I don’t have to self-destruct.”
That lesson on perfection will carry over to other areas of my life as well. Have I been faithful to my wife? Yes, perfectly faithful. Have I kept my commitment to myself to write my daily blog? Yes, perfectly, for over 300 days in a row now.
No, I am not perfect, but there are little bits of perfection that reside in my being. Glimpses of the perfection that I believe each of us was intended to possess, but which eludes us because we live in a broken world.
I can accept that I am not perfect. I can also accept that in limited ways, perfection can be attained. In some cases, where perfection is out of my reach, I can accept that doing my best is sufficient.
As a recovering addict, I am expert at beating myself up. At seeing myself as a failure. Believing I have wrecked my life, and the lives of those around me. My ears are finely tuned to hearing the lies of my disease.
Today, I will practice acceptance by acknowledging the good things in my life. I’ll accept that there are areas in which I excel, even to a point of perfection. I will also accept the areas that need improvement.
I am looking forward to my new glasses. The prescription is slightly changed, so I should see better with them. Also, I am confident they will look good on me. After all, Amanda already said they are perfect!
Have a remarkable day!