My screw and washer fall with a clang as they break loose from my grip. The washer slipped through the cracks of the porch and my screw rolled under a chair. “It could have been worse” I thought as I started my climb down the ladder. This is how I spent my Memorial Day; helping my 70-year-old grandfather assemble his new gazebo. Unfortunately for me, I went to his house not knowing this chore would await me. I was wearing my usual choice in footwear, three inch heels. Additionally, my grandfather kept conveniently “disappearing”; leaving me to build most of it by myself. Guided by a packet of the vaguest instructions known to man (or woman) and under the hawk-like watch of my mother, I set to work on the gazebo. I am no stranger to construction so I quickly found myself using the electric drill, ratchet set and ladders to piece together the structure. Then it came time to put on the piece that anchors the other pieces together; they keystone, if you will. I wanted to prove to my grandfather that I am helpful and intelligent. Aaaand, that is when the screw hit the ground. I realized, at that moment, how often situations like this present themselves in my everyday life; particularly in my recovery.
It goes like this:
I often start out with these huge, unachievable ideals and ambitions with no clear path towards achieving them.
-Thought while building (TWB): I can, single-handedly, build this gazebo. I have a college degree. How hard can it be to read some directions and slap together a gazebo?
-Thought in recovery (TIR):I can recover right this very moment. I will not make mistakes, and it will last forever without going back
Then, when I realize I am in too deep, I try to figure it out myself.
-TWB: I will consult my instruction packet. Piece M hooks to D. Screw AA goes with washer BB and into part J…and despite the unclear directions, I am confident of my ability to move forward.
-TIR: I consult with my therapist and Meredith. Maybe I read some of Thom Rutledge’s writings or work in my “Finding Your Voice Through Creativity” recovery workbook or anything else to reset my mind to recovery mode. Again, I have unclear directions, but I am confident in my ability to move forward.
Then, when I inevitably reach a point where I need additional help, I have to seek other options.
-TWB: Crap, I am not 8-feet-tall (I am barely 5-feet). How in the world am I going to get the roof together? How am I going to get the canopy on the roof? Where is my grandfather?
-TIR: Crap, ED’s back. How am I going to do the next right thing? How am I going to get out of this relapse and back into my recovery?
Then, when I have stopped to assess the situation, addressed my needs, thought of how I am going to achieve those needs as a means to do the next right thing…I have to put a plan into action
-TWB: Ok, I know I need another person to get the canopy on. My mother is shorter than me; so she will not be helpful. I have to get off the ladder and find my grandfather. Ok, he is here now. I need to communicate to him my needs in terms of completing this gazebo. Then we work together to complete what I need.
-TIR: Ok, I know I need to do the next right thing. What is the next right thing in this situation? (For example) I know I need to eat. What can I do to make sure that I eat? I know I can go home and have an apple and peanut butter. What is the first step towards making that happen? I can leave work in X number of minutes and make sure I eat first thing when I get there.
Then, when it is all over, I can sit back and look at how it all worked out
-TWB: Well, that was a lot of work for such a dinky gazebo. But, I am glad I asked my grandfather for help and was able to help him in return by building the gazebo. Am I upset I had to ask for help? Yeah, a little. But I am glad I got the help that I needed and he now has a gazebo under which he can read the paper and drink his coffee.
-TIR: What did I learn in this situation that I can apply towards future situations that will arise in my recovery? Did I do the next right thing? If yes, remember that and keep doing it. If no, what can I try next time to produce a healthier result that promotes recovery? What did I learn? How can I apply what I learned in this situation to continue recovery?
Then I can have a cup of coffee with my grandfather in his new gazebo…and put ED in the empty gazebo box by the curb for Rumpke to take to the landfill
2 Thessalonians 3:3
The Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen you and protect you