Early in my matriculation through AA’s “rugged school of life,” I heard an old timer share what he described as a Cherokee parable about the Two Wolves.

Here is one rendition from ‘Virtues for Life’

[An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.

“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”]

Some people may have the luxury of feeding their bad wolf and getting by fine in life. Or even prospering in a hedonistic, materialistic sense.

But as an Alcoholic, and as a person with Bipolar Disorder, another major addiction, and indoctrinated shame, I learned through 43 years of chaos, drama, trauma, pain, instability, suffering, and inflicting harm on others, that I cannot afford to feed my bad wolf.

Even after years of practicing hard-core recovery and self-care, sometimes I want to feed that bad wolf -I yearn to do it with every fiber of my being. And at times I yield to the temptation in smaller, less extreme ways than when I used to present that bad wolf with feasts fit for a glutton.

Every time I feed that bad wolf, anxiety, resentment, dishonesty, false pride, and all manner of spiritual ills begin to manifest and steal away my hard won, grace-given serenity, piece of mind, self-worth, and stability. Like a nest of ravenous termites, these spiritual ills insidiously gnaw away at the framework of my recovery and self-care

Yet today I am blessed to be able to start recognizing the damage wrought before it is too extensive, going into extermination mood to rid my painstakingly built recovery of those nasty pests.

The turning point in my recovery and self-care, a craft I have been “perfecting” since 1993, came not that long ago, in relative terms. Yet another self-inflicted significant life crisis FINALLY awakened me to the realization that with my maladies, especially my Bipolar Disorder, feeding my good wolf is a matter of life or death for me.

One day at a time. Blood, sweat, and tears. By God’s grace. My good wolf has to win in order for me to stay alive.

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