Everything happens for a reason

So today it snowed and my daughter decided that she wanted to take the day off from school… all so that I would have time to write. Right?!? Isn’t that why it happened? Doesn’t everything happen for a reason? Or do things just happen and we assign them a reason? Well. in this case it’s both. There is definitely a reason why it snowed having to do with all sorts of meteorological stuff that I don’t completely understand and wouldn’t dare try to explain. My daughter certainly has her reasons for not wanting to go to school today but I learned long ago that any attempts to understand teenage girls is pointless. Love and acceptance are the only tools which have any chance of yielding positive results in that situation.

The fact remains that I am now writing. It snowed, my daughter isn’t going to school and I’m writing a blog post. Cause and effect. Bam!

It’s also a fact that I haven’t been writing much since I got sober. There is obviously a correlation but fully understanding the cause may be a difficult as explaining the weather or teenage daughters.

There is a simple answer however. There’s always a simple answer. It’s God’s will is probably the simplest answer and it’s good enough. When all other explanations fail me, I still have God. To be honest, God has been indispensable during this phase of my journey but I don’t really want to write about God. I don’t. I really don’t. At least not publicly. At least not now. I consider spirituality in whatever form it takes to be a very personal thing. I no business writing about God or spirituality and I can’t write about what has been going on in my life without it. It may be God’s will that I not right but more likely it’s my will to not write about God.

A lot of things changed in my life when I quit drinking. The undeniable truth is that drinking played a huge role in my life. The simple act of quitting meant that things were going to change. That was kind of the point. If I wasn’t an alcoholic that would probably be the end of the story. Man quits drinking, stops making trips to the liquor store. In my case it’s a much bigger deal than that. In many ways my story resembles that of every other alcoholic who has gotten sober. If you want to read some of those stories there is a whole book of them online.

I’m determined to make my story a success story but I’m not ready to declare victory yet, not that I even know what that would mean. Every day I don’t have a drink is a victory but I’m under no illusions that my recovery will one day be complete. Prior to sobriety I didn’t care how the story turned out. It was just me, doing my thing. I felt perfectly comfortable telling it in the moment. Win or lose I knew it would make a good story. But it’s no longer just about me. It’s bigger than me. That is to say, I’m part of something bigger than me. If I fail I don’t want to bring anyone else down with me. That and I actually care how my life turns out now. It’s not just a story.

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Lost in translation

Since returning from Mexico, one thought has been weighing heavy on my mind. You see, I don’t speak spanish. Well, I can speak a little bit but I don’t understand much at all. Where I was, that wasn’t much of a problem. Most everyone I encountered spoke enough English that I was able to get what I needed. Furthermore, I was surrounded by tourists and expats, most of whom were native English speakers. Still, not being able to effectively communicate in the language of the country I was in left me feeling lost.

The thought that has been on my mind however is that this is how I feel most of the time. Even though I speak English fluently, as do most of the people I regularly engage with in conversation, I feel like we are speaking different languages. My words, my experiences, my perceptions, when communicated to another person take on different meanings depending on the other person’s understanding of the words or their own experiences and perceptions. I work really hard at effective communication but it still seems to me that I fail as often as I succeed. Well… it may be more accurate to say that we fail since communication is a two-way street.

I think we all want to be understood and I think we all are frustrated with how often that doesn’t happen. I think we settle for being heard. Too often, we don’t listen, we don’t open ourselves up for feedback and we don’t try to understand. We just put our words out there and expect that to be good enough. If we don’t get what we want we can blame the other person for not listening. If they interpret our words in a way that we don’t like, we feel judged or attacked. We react defensively rather than in a manner that might enhance actual communication.

I’m all too aware of this problem. When I’m sober I spend much of my time terrified of being misunderstood. For some reason, that really matters to me. I struggle with every word and often find it really difficult to say anything. This post seems to be taking me forever and it’s not because I don’t have the thoughts in my head. I’m just having a hard time finding the right words. Of course when I’m drunk it’s almost impossible to get me to shut up. Drunk communication has it’s own set of pitfalls however.

Sometimes I wish I could say whatever was on my mind no matter what. I wish I didn’t fear being misunderstood or judged. At the very least, I wish I didn’t care so much. But perhaps that’s not all a bad thing. I’m just trying to find the balance.

 

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