3-14-21-Notes from Rob

Notes from Rob Schofield

Earlier in recovery –
I’ve struggled with anxiety (mostly social anxiety) as long as I can remember, and especially as a child. I never really learned to socialize with peers until I was about sixteen, when I started my first job and started martial arts training in Taekwondo. Even then, outside of martial arts I was very clumsy and withdrawn around people, afraid to engage and feeling unable to connect with my peers. I gradually taught myself over the years to become more able and comfortable connecting with people, particularly in recovery.

But in martial arts training I somehow finally felt comfortable. I was able to relax, train, focus, and compete without being consumed by various forms of fear. Dealing with fear in my training was still an issue at times, but it was manageable. I felt as if I could breathe better, and I was more comfortable in my own skin. Finally I was really GOOD at something! Not only that, but I was thoroughly enjoying it, and it was good for me mentally and physically. I was coming out of my shell not only in training, but in other areas of my life as well. My confidence began to rise from being painfully low, to a more manageable level.

It’s difficult for me right now to grasp how I can capture the essence of spirituality that I had experienced in my Taekwondo training, and bring that into my daily life today. One positive focus I gained in my training was the emphasis on improvement. This was cemented into my thinking more heavily when I began to train others, the idea that it’s not important where you are in your training; what matters is that you’re improving yourself over time. It doesn’t matter that Joe Shmoe is more skilled than you; it only matters that you’re becoming better than you were yesterday. 

I’ve shared this principle of improvement with others in recovery in the past couple of years, but it’s been a hard pill for me to swallow. I still struggle with a strong sense of unworthiness in my heart, though in my head I know better. I struggle with fear as it threatens to cripple me, though I know that fear itself is only as real as I make it, and only grows if I feed it.

The main thing I can think of to do in my recovery right now is to take a pointer from my early recovery a couple of years ago. I had made a conscious decision to be willing to put my feelings, fears, and pain aside for a while and just keep doing the next right thing. I had become aware that I had been letting my feelings drive my decisions for most of my life, and it had led me into ruin more than once. Once alcoholism entered the equation, the problem multiplied beyond my wildest nightmares. But at the Farm I took something to heart that kept coming up in various places: book studies, morning devotions, groups, etc…the metaphor of “you reap what you sow.” The idea that what I am feeling NOW is a result of what I did over the past weeks, months, and years, began to sink in. The solution was to disengage my feelings from the decision making process, so my feelings were no longer in the driver’s seat. I began making conscious decisions to keep doing the next right thing, and let my feelings be what they may, for better or for worse.

Over the course of a few months I began to notice a real change. My experience of life was different. My feelings were swaying back to the positive, no longer swinging to extremes or wallowing in the negative. I had been “sowing” for a few months, and I was beginning to noticeably “reap” positive benefits from that. My sense of worth improved, I was connected to people in much more positive and meaningful ways, and I was involved in my life. The despair began to lift as hope crept in. The practical elements of my life were beginning to improve, but more dramatic was the fact that my experience of life was becoming more open, positive, and real than it had ever been. I began to accept a little contentment into my life. I was becoming connected with my Higher Power and with people in ways that actually mattered. I was becoming a part of life.

Perhaps this is something I need to make a conscious decision about each morning; the willingness to lay my undisciplined feelings aside and simply do the next right thing, and keep doing it.

Later in recovery –
Being judgmental is a habit so ingrained within my thinking that it’s often difficult to notice. Even as I continue to grow spiritually and become more aware and proactive about my thinking, it’s still so easy to take that step of judgement without even realizing that I’m doing it. Discernment is a different thing, perhaps the positive counterpart that comes from compassion, and wishes to become wisdom. It’s important that I try to discern the truth of what’s going on, to think and act accordingly, but it has to be paired with humility. Otherwise it becomes twisted into judgement that stems from the Ego Self, which assumes that I’m smart and powerful enough to judge myself and others. Discernment is also very useful; it can benefit others as well as myself. It should come from a place of calm awareness and clear thinking. Judgement always seems to be emotionally driven in my thought processes if I look closely enough. Even if judgement is “right,” that doesn’t mean it’s helpful.

Life is too short and precious to waste my time anymore on habitual negative ego-driven crap. I’ve spent most of my life unknowingly doing that, and it’s brought a lot of suffering into my life, and the lives of others.

I have more choices now that I’ve ever had before, or rather, I am aware of my choices more than ever. It’s not just about the choice of whether I’ll drink or not. It’s the many choices I have in how I will think, perceive, and act in the world. It’s the many “little” choices I face each day, throughout the day, of how I am going to live in this world. I don’t think I’ll ever be at peace with the world, but I can be at peace with myself and how I live in this world. Those are the choices that I focus on now. AA reminds me to focus on continued spiritual growth, above and beyond simple sobriety. This is not only a necessity; it’s an amazing opportunity for ongoing discovery. It’s always there. All I have to do is choose it. Those choices have always been available to me. I’m grateful now to be able to see those choices available to me, to see the value in them, and to work them into my daily life.

How do you fill your bucket? One drop at a time

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step

The great arises out of small things that are honored and cared for
May you be well. May you be happy. May you find peace.

Heart Of Recovery web site  — fcheartofrecovery.com