THE ‘HARD STUFF’ CEASES TO MATTER
One of the most bitter pills I’ve had to swallow in my 53 year journey is that, as my father drilled into my head, “life doesn’t get any easier.”
So far my experience has demonstrated that Dad was on to something.
I recall rolling my eyes (in my mind of course) and quickly dismissing it as another of his seemingly endless arsenal of platitudes that he loved to throw at life’s challenges.
However, my years on this broken world living with Bipolar Disorder, two Addictions, and the inevitable existential suffering of being human have erased my petulant skepticism.
Life on life’s terms and AA have been two of my most amazing teachers on my journey.
Bill Wilson once wrote, “We A.A.’s have had no better teacher than Old Man Adversity, except in those cases where we refuse to let him teach us.”
For many years, I ignored Old Man Adversity, but he finally beat me into submission.
Platitudes and cliches are trite and simplistic. But there is a tremendous amount of depth and utility to them when a person applies them to life in a meaningful way.
I have found AA’s many slogans (platitudes) to be effective tools for dealing with some incredibly trying situations while maintaining a reasonable degree of calm, dignity, and grace. I often recite them as mantras while in the thick of challenging circumstances, remaining conscious of their meaning and applying them as I do what needs to be done.
These are some that have served me well over the years.
First things first
One day at a time
Easy does it
Let go and let God
This too shall pass
Faith without works is dead
Keep it simple
Progress, not perfection
Live and let live
Act as if
If it works don’t fix it
Live in the now
No pain no gain
More will be revealed
Practice an attitude of gratitude
You are not alone
Service is love in work clothes
You’ve got to give it away to keep it
And specifically regarding the “It’s gonna get harder…” platitude below, I am reminded of M. Scott Peck’s “The Road Less Travelled,” which was a recovery Bible of sorts for me in the 90s. The first chapter begins with, “Life is difficult…” and Peck makes the wise assertion that once we embrace that truth, life paradoxically becomes easier because we are no longer expecting that it will be easy. That was an epiphany that changed my life.
Certainly there are points along the journey that are far more difficult than others. And sometimes we do get brief periods of respite where we can coast as everything seems to fall into place. But the 30,000 foot view of life is that it’s a strenuous voyage with oases of relief at various junctures along the way.
The good news though is that, based on my experience, once a person finds a meaningful purpose and an effective means of carrying it out (i.e. 12 Step spirituality for me), life gets better. A whole lot better. And the ‘hard stuff’ ceases to matter.
[Please note that I am not proselytizing for 12 Step Recovery here or advocating it as the ‘be all and end all.’ There are many other facets to my regimen to remain stable and sober besides the tools, spirituality, and Fellowship with other Addicts that I find in AA and my other 12 Step Fellowship. I also have a therapist, take medication, apply CBT and other theraputic techniques rigorously, have a strong support network outside the Fellowships, and work diligently at self care].