Change

It was one of those weekends.

Those weekends with nothing to complain about except for an irritability, at once paralyzing and restless. When I read Paul Silva’s post (here) about conquering frustration with a few breaths, I realized I couldn’t remember the last time I took a purposeful breath—the last time I meditated, or said a prayer that wasn’t rushed or by rote. And when my spiritual growth is stagnant, my old pal fear rears his ugly mug.

That irritability I feel when my only obligation is to take my son out into the D.C. area’s first snowfall or rock my daughter to bed? That’s fear baby. Self-centered fear.


It was always my fear of not having enough that made me take too much.


Today, it’s my fear of not doing enough that makes me want to do too much. And that fear is a cog in the bigger wheel—the granddaddy of them all: the fear that I am not enough. The fear that I am altogether insufficient, that I occupy the wrong space at the wrong time. I succumbed to those fears this weekend.

I tried to fill that void of more instead of practice the happiness that exists outside of wanting.

It’s no coincidence that I am in the middle of a transition; the course of my life is changing. At least, I hope it will. I’ve decided it will; I just haven’t finished the work to make it happen yet. And it’s in that difference—between ambition and reality—that fear latches on like a parasite.

It’s that naive illusion that I can change the world without first changing myself.

 

Change is scary.

All real progress slogs through fear. This weekend I was reminded of this. And as you might expect from a writer who calls his blog the Miracle of the Mundane, it took a routine act to shake loose, however briefly, from the phantoms.

My son is usually the one to lead us in prayer before we eat. It’s a jingle of a prayer he learned in preschool that thanks the Lord for “the sun and the rain and the apple seed.” On Saturday night, however, he was not in the mood. Twenty minutes of tantruming and the only way we got him to sit down was to threaten to take away his video that night. He sat down, screaming. My daughter, also screaming, was trying to pry apart her booster-seat buckle like Hulk Hogan used to rip his spandex.

I prayed for us: “God, please help us put aside our frustrations to enjoy this meal and realize the love we share is the love you give us. A-men.”

As much as the prayer fit my duo of screaming children, I was praying for myself.

 

Sobriety is the most important change I have made in life.

It’s when my recovery becomes another coin in the change drawer that I miss the sheer miracle of it all.

The change I made 9 years, 2 months, 3 weeks, and 4 days ago should be enough for me today.

It should be. Enough.

27 Responses to “Change

  • I can so relate to your dinner time tantrums and frustrations. Sometimes the miracle is just managing a couple of bites before the kids start kicking off.
    Being content with exactly where I am and who I am at this exact moment is something that eludes me but I know THAT is where the true contentment lies. Like you say it’s the space beyond wanting.
    And yes Sobriety is by far the most important change because you need to be conscious to live a mindful life.

  • I am feeling exactly the same way, between ambition and reality and am I really good enough, the fear paralyzes me in certain areas and ways in my life that only I can see at times especially if I don’t share. Spot on with exactly what I am going through, thanks my friend.

  • Good stuff, Mark. The addict in me wants change to happen instantly but the sober person in me knows that it happens gradually and that I’m going to screw up all of the time. You reminded me that being sober comes first & the rest of it will work itself out.

  • My main thought is that I wish (not the same as regret) that I’d been sober and serene when my kids were the ages that yours are. I’ve made a living amends to them and we are in a wonderful place. But I do read something like this wistfully. Hope to see you this weekend!

  • I’m certainly no stranger to those feelings. I’m pretty sure they precede my Sponsor asking about my meeting attendance and reminding me to get back to basics. As much as I think I’m “doing my best”, the truth is that often I’m just doing my best WITHIN MY COMFORT ZONE. Just doing a thing that’s slightly uncomfortable can be the catalyst…

    • Good call on the calling the sponsor thing, Abbie. Why does that occur to me so late? Thanks for your feedback!

  • Sometimes we get so distracted trying to handle, accept, and deal with major changes, we don’t see the small changes happening around us that are equally important. 😉

    • Wonderful piece of wisdom, and way of saying what the message of this post is all about. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment!

  • ***Today, it’s my fear of not doing enough that makes me want to do too much. And that fear is a cog in the bigger wheel—the granddaddy of them all: the fear that I am not enough. ***

    So much to say here….another awesome post. First this concept of not having enough, being enough, doing enough…so we horde “enough.” To make sure that WE *are* enough. What a mistaken, fear based, dysfunctional, way in which we view our wonderful, fierce, and beautiful selves. Ohhhh I hear you. Some of my most peaceful soul filling times have been when I’ve mustered th courage to STOP and just be….so much easier said than done, but it’s there. The opportunity, over and over again.
    About the littles screaming at the table….now that my time has passed and I don’t feel the full weight of teaching and training them…it’s funny. 😂The picture in my mind, of you and your wife sitting one at each end of the table with two babies crying and being upset on each side is humorous….we have all so been there. It gets better as you know
    And my curiosity is churning all around….what changes?!
    I was thinking this morning after I read this post how I have been blogging for 10 years this Feb!!!! I have made a lot of wonderful friends, people I have met in real life on many occasions….it’s been such a gift to connect with other people who understand my journey. I began blogging in order to survive. Never in my wildest dreams did I envision the kind of “fame” you have achieved in one short year! I am amazed and so thrilled for you Mark. What a gift you are to so many.

    • Wow. 10 years! Well, I’ve said many times Annette, yours was one of the first blogs I came across, and you were definitely the first person to support mine! I’ll never forget that and what it meant to me! It’s one year for me on the 14th, speaking of anniversaries.

      None of the changes are that major, just moving some time around in my life to free up the space to write more! It’s nothing real yet, but because I’m writing so much more, I want the validation for what I’m doing. And that’s not the point, anyway.

      Thank you for all your support, Annette. I’m not sure about this “fame” thing. Honestly, not a lot of people are visiting. But, what I love is that those people who are visiting are leaving comments and staying in touch with me. And making real connections like this is far better than any fame and those false connections I could have…

  • Oh! I relate to this so much (currently taking deep breaths as I snuggle a teething baby toddler). And the fear. God, I’m less fearful than I was, but it still beats me around the head. Am I enough? m I doing enough? Am I good enough? Mostly I can say yes, to all those things. And I’m grateful that a tough hour, or day (or, lets he honest, week) is just that now. It will pass, it will get easier, better. I might have nightmare days, but I’m no longer living a nightmare x

  • Dwight Chapin
    7 months ago

    Remember the little Plaque–“What would you do if you knew you could not fail?” Fear is only fear. God “Inspires, illuminates, designates and leads the way!”

  • Wow Look at what you write Mark. All the mindful replies too.
    Must make you KNOW you are enough right there!

  • Well Mr. Goodson, look at all the amazing responses so far which plunks you right down into the middle of being part of the pack – we all get what you’re saying! I get that too – and believe me when I say that almost all my fears and anger and everything unspiritual come from the seat of the fear of not being good enough. All of them. It’s big trigger stuff, I tells ya. I sometimes start to cry because that little kid in me still gets pounded over and over with that message, and it’s not the bullies of old who are doing it, but me. I have still a big part of me which has bought into that old saw and it sliced through me.

    Anyway, I love the image of you guys praying around the table there, and you fulfilling the duty among the chaos as a way to center yourself. They may have not have heard it, but you did. And gratitude flows from that.

    I am praying that you will get through this transition with as few stitches as possible. It sucks – I went through a different kind of transition (not one financial) but it sucked the life out of me and now I am feeling rejuvenated in many ways even if I am still worn down.

    Thanks for this and of course thank you for the shout out on the post – I am very humbled and flattered.

    Cheers!

    paul

    • Thanks so much, Paul. Right, as usual, the community lifts me up and makes me realize how silly it was to doubt what I’m doing, because it is a good thing. We need to have one of those talks, definitely. Long overdue. This weekend?

      I’m glad you are through the transition phrase of this new endeavor. The feeling of rejuvenation is the best!

  • This sentence “It was always my fear of not having enough that made me take too much.” just explained so much to me. And my life. In this sentence alone, I can relate to your feeling.

  • I am brand new to the recovery community blogs. I am so VERY thankful to be here. I am probably the oldest person in the group..but what is age but a number. 😉 Loved the post, Mark and all the replies. Such encouragement!!

    • Welcome Mary! It is a fine community here! So many great resources. Did you click around those links I have on the side-bar? Great resources over there. Plus, I know them all personally!

  • Soberinny
    7 months ago

    Having had many a dinner time like the one you described (4 kids including twins here) made me feel all sweaty… they’re older now, bigger issues….
    The “not being enough” is what drives me daily. Have to learn to quiet that voice. It’s always quieter when I am trying to stop drinking…..

  • “Today, it’s my fear of not doing enough that makes me want to do too much. ” Relating to this completely today. I volunteer at an animal shelter on Wednesday mornings starting at 7am. I have to take my dog for a walk before and after so I have to get up pretty early. I also had a lot of things I needed to get done today. I’ve been volunteering for around five months now and this is the third time I’ve skipped. I often find myself judging myself before today about the other two times I have skipped. I wish I always went to volunteer every week, instead of skipping a day like a weakling. Last night though I was having stressed induced insomnia. The worry of needing to fall asleep kept me awake. I needed to fall asleep so I had time to walk my dog in the morning, but that worry was keeping me awake for hours. I wanted to call off so I had time to do everything, but I should be able to handle this right? Well then I realized that I can’t do everything on no sleep. And sometimes we have to know our limits. I emailed the head person of the shelter and I told her I couldn’t make it this week but I’ll come in next week. Part of me wishes I went but the other part knew that I probably wouldn’t have gotten my dog walked when he needed it. I realized my limits and we all have them.

    • Realizing limits is a really hard thing. I struggle with it in a major way. I’m always writing about it too because I just can’t seem to learn.

      How great that you volunteer. Most people would see that time as their time that they are donating. It’s a rare spirit to give your time away that purposefully. I think that’s amazing! There is nothing to feel guilty about there, only things to feel proud of and grateful for!

      I hope this weekend you get some better rest. Thank you for such incredible feedback!

  • Zentient
    7 months ago

    Thanks for the lovely and helpful post. I attend Refuge Recovery meetings (www.refugerecover.org), and meditation is a key to the program. Jane Hirshfield wrote Buddism in 7 Words: “Everything changes, everything is connected, pay attention”. That is one of my recovery phrases I go to when my mind is all over the place, and especially when it goes to that dark fearful corner.

  • Appreciate this. I totally get it. I’ve done, take too much out of fear of not having enough. It came from not TRUSTING. Trusting that my GOD was enough for me, His wisdom, sovereignty, provisions. We take it one day at a time. Each day offers blessings enough to savor.

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