Sunday, April 24, 2011

keys to the kingdom



The last fifteen years of my life have been rich and meaningful. I have had my share of problems, heartaches, and disappointments because that is life, but also I have known a great deal of joy and a peace that is the handmaiden of an inner freedom. I have a wealth of friends and, with my A.A. friends, an unusual quality of fellowship. For, to these people, I am truly related. First, through mutual pain and despair, and later through mutual objectives and newfound faith and hope. And, as these years go by, working together, sharing our experiences with one another, and also sharing mutual trust, understanding, and love--without strings, without obligation--we acquire relationships that are unique and priceless.
There is no more aloneness, with that awful ache, so deep in the heart of every alcoholic that nothing, before, could ever reach it. That ache is gone and never need return again.
Now there is a sense of belonging, of being wanted and needed and loved. In return for a bottle and a hangover, we have been given the Keys of the Kingdom.
p. 276.. the book of alcoholics anonymous

Keys To The Kingdom
This was the topic at a Friday night meeting and as I listened some thoughts occurred to me.  one of the operative ideas in the title phrase is that keys is plural. I had never realized before, but the truth is that this drug free journey has not just been like getting keys to a castle (or a mansion) but it is an entire kingdom. A very amazing and certainly unexpected feature has been the ongoing revealing of fantastic blessings of all kinds. They haven’t stopped after a certain point. To the contrary, they have continued and improved as my in tandem with my sober time.

As I looked around the meeting room, I recognized several faces from the years I have trudged beside them. This is a complete departure from my life prior to getting clean. I had often been on the move, either pulling a geographical to try to arrest my overuse, or because I had worn out my welcome or made a complete ass of myself within the circles with whom I had been travelling. So scanning that room, I realized what a gift this enduring recognition is. I feel seen and I feel heard and these are feelings that allow me to explore emotional security. This is a key to a component in life that I had never previously dared dream about.

There is another key to this kingdom of serenity which is the addition of friends who are on a similar journey. I have always had friends such as this, but as my life took a recovery turn, my existing friendships changed drastically. but through the daily grind, individual sweet souls who reflect the truths about me that I am not able to myself.  The most challenging aspect of sober life is recognizing and accepting the dark side of myself. Coincidentally this is also one of the most liberating. Not running from who I am (although mastering this is still in its infancy) is becoming a staple of my daily fitness routine.

I have written about this key before: it turns out that somehow I am realizing that I am not the only thing that others think or talk about. Quite the opposite turns out to be true actually- others have very little time or space in their lives to clutter their time with me. This is a two sided-Kandinsky for me.  The bright side is that all the time I waste knoodling with my brain about how awful I am and how inappropriate I am has little resonance with the truth. The dark side however, is that much space in my heart and brain is taken up by information that needs to be deleted and typed over. Anger has accompanied me my whole life, like a birthmark or an emotional stutter. I used to do all I could do to suppress it because the hurt that lay beneath it seemed cataclysmic. I understand now that anger is only meant to be a sentry, not a travelling companion, and I fare much better when I let him sound the alarms when they come, thank him for his diligence and support, and move beyond him, leaving him where I found him and not tattooing his message on my interior.