Acceptance and expectations–two dirty words we hear a lot in the rooms of recovery. Both embody concepts most of us are quite uncomfortable with. We don’t want to accept the way things are, instead we want things to be the way we think they should be. And when we are told to lower our expectations or even have no expectations of others we squirm with the idea that people may not behave the way we want them to. The basic problem is really the issue of who is in charge and I personally had a hard time grasping the idea that it wasn’t me. When I came into the rooms in 1994 I was not at all familiar with the idea that others were more concerned with themselves and their own problems than they were with me and mine. I mean, I was the center of my universe. I knew or thought I knew how things should play out and how future events should unfold, in my own immediate favor of course. As a newly sober individual, I really had no concept of the big picture or long term goals or of doing the right thing right now and trusting that I would then proceed on a positive path toward health and recovery. As any good alcoholic will tell you, I wanted what I wanted and I wanted it right then, not later, not another day, I meant right now. And I would do whatever it took to orchestrate events and manipulate people to get it. But people at meetings started telling me I was not in charge, I could not make anyone else do anything, and my world collapsed. I felt like I was going to fall off a cliff into a vast neverland that scared the hell out of me. I asked myself, what in the world would life be like if I didn’t control everyone and everything? Didn’t I need to lie, cheat, and steal to micromanage the world? How could I live with unpredictability, lack of control, and change, which happens to be another really, really bad word in my social circle. How could I learn to accept that things would turn out ok without my direct input, and the infinite wisdom gained from my many, varied life experiences? How in the world could I move forward in my life if I did not know where it was going? The problem was I lacked faith in any thing or anyone beyond myself and I was scared shitless. I was face to face with the new concept, impossible as it was to accept, that I had no business being in charge even if it was ever possible anyway. I had to take a look at where my life was as a result of my choices and behaviors, all of which had lead me straight to the rooms of recovery, a total mess who had run out of steam in my quest to control everyone and everything. But I wasn’t the only mess, my life was and I had done a pretty good job of messing up the lives of others, too, especially the lives of my closest friends and relatives. So I had to first accept that I had messed up royally and that being in charge had gotten me where I was, broke, practically homeless, and thinking seriously of the best way to cause my own demise. I no longer cared about causing the demise of others; I no longer had the interest or energy. I was at my lowest point, ready to leave the world one way or another. Then suddenly, while driving to my local favorite bar, already heavily fortified, carrying a Big Gulp cup from the 7-11 with my own particular poison added to some ice, I had this strange desire to live and I knew it couldn’t have come from me. Was there something else out there? Was there some Higher Power that ran the show? What if I quit expecting everyone and everything to conform to my own twisted, confused, disappointed and angry view of the world? What if I began to accept that the world did not revolve around me and that I wasn’t the center of everyone’s universe? Then it dawned on me, it wasn’t accepting it that made it so, but it was accepting that made me able to live with it. I turned my car around and headed to my first meeting.
Lori A. Crockett