Updated: Dec 18, 2021
Coming into clarity and being neutral in your emotion...
They say that everything changes when you stop drinking, and when I first quit drinking I didn't understand what 'they' meant. My life was pretty good, and I never hit the type of rock bottom where I lost everything and everyone that was dear to me. I honestly thought that not that much would change if I could turn things around before rock bottom stage.
Out of all of the things that we say about sobriety however, I think that the statement, "Everything changes" is the most true.
Things change more broadly, and also in the day to day, so be sure to note these small changes in your journal when you see them, because they will be tiny, but as time goes on you will be able to see the broader picture and overall changes more clearly. Read on for the details...
This past Tuesday for instance we invited one of our favorite people to breakfast after my sons swim practice which is at 9:00 a.m. Our favorite person told me that he'd also like to come to the practice and watch my son swim. Both my son and I were looking forward to it, as this person who I'm mentioning is important to both of us.
Things changed on my end, and I decided to not cram everything all into one stressful morning. I decided to get my bike ride in, and skip swim practice for my little one. (My goal is for them to attend 3-4 practices out of 5 a week and we still had time in the week to do so.)
I called our person to tell him about the changes, and that we wouldn't be at the swim practice, however, I suggested still meeting for breakfast. Our person told me the following at somewhere around 8:30 a.m.: That he is at the grocery store and still needs to go back to his house, and that he has an online call that he has to dial in on at 10:00 and that appointment is an hour. I have no idea what this appointment is for, if it is important or if it requires him to dress up, or any other details. He asked if we could possibly meet at 11:00, and asked me if that would be okay. However, he was still is working out the fine points in his conversation as we were talking.
At 21 months sober, I am confused at how our person was going to make it to my sons swim practice if he was at the grocery store 35-40 minutes away, and still had to go back to his home. Then, I wondered if he has an appointment how he thought he could go to breakfast after the swim practice, which ends at 10:00, and that is when he was supposed to be on his call. Additionally, I was puzzled about how he was going to take the call if he was with us... would he be on his call in his car? If the call was from 10:00 -11:00 then realistically, in human time, we could expect to meet at 11:45 a.m.
This information was disappointing to me but not surprising at all as this person often makes plans to do things with us and many times cannot follow through. How did I react? I simply suggested to our person that maybe he has too much on his plate and we should re-schedule. I told our person that I was going for a bike ride for an hour, I would be showered and at the breakfast restaurant at 10:15 a.m. and that was my plan. I told him that 11:30 or 11:45 a.m. was more of a lunch and that we had many things to do that day and lunch plans were probably too late for us considering we had so many things on our list for the day.
To be fair, I decided against going to my sons swim practice, however, the meet up was originally for breakfast after swim, and our person was indecisive on if he would make it to the swim practice, however, we had solid plans for the breakfast.
Our person wrestled with his thoughts out loud on what he should do for a few minutes. I told him that I had no idea what his call was about, if he needed to dress up for it, or what the circumstances were but our plan was to go to breakfast at 10:15 a.m. which was our original plan, and I held to that.
I stuck with 'our plan' (my son and I going to breakfast at 10:15 a.m.) because that suits my schedule. I am a busy person, with responsibilities and commitments to myself and others and I need to stay true to them. This is one of the things that is very apparent to me in sobriety~ I notice that I like to be more prepared and I am less anxious if I have solid plans for my day. I also respect my time so much more in sobriety, and find myself sticking to what makes me feel better for my day, rather than succumbing to the plans of others which may be in flux.
Our person ultimately told me that he would 'sacrifice' the appointment/ 'call in' because he would rather spend time with us and that we were more important. As a side note, it turns out his call-in appointment was a free webinar on something he was interested in for his business, and forgot about it until the night previous to our meet up.
We had a pretty good breakfast, but there were a couple of things I was initially frustrated with: 1. The fact that our favorite person told us he was coming to join us, but then wanted to back out because of poor planning and other commitments he had forgotten about. 2. He said he made a 'sacrifice' to see us. 3. He commits often and many times cannot follow through with his commitments.
Was I upset and disappointed? Yes. However, not as much as I have been about this person/these things in the past when I was drinking. The key points here are that I was able to be neutral- a good overall neutral. Neutrality, according to David J. Hawkins has a level of 250 Consciousness level. (David J. Hawkins - Map of the Scale of Consciousness) The level of 200 is Courage, which is where we make the switch from the lower levels of Consciousness which are: shame (level 20), guilt (30), apathy (50), grief (75), fear (100), desire (125), anger (150), and pride (175). According to Hawkins, "at consciousness level 200 there is a shift to the more benign... and from that level up, the nature of life becomes more harmonious."
It was as if I was upset, and then was able to step back (or go above myself) and just observe the situation and choose to be unaffected. According to the scale of Consciousness the emotion of neutrality is trust and the process is release. In my case with the special person, I was able to trust the outcome, regardless of if the person bailed on us, or if he showed up. I was able to release resentment and frustration, and instead I went with the flow. As stated above, I told our person our plans, and if he wanted to join us then that was his choice. I did not even ask for details on what the call was about.
In my drinking days, I would get worked up about these sorts of things, and reactive. I would have asked about the 'call-in' and stewed about it and of course judged the meeting. When we go neutral, we accept the outcome no matter what the outcome may be. The thing is that as you gain more sober time, you may have been blind to how family members or friends act and when you come into more clarity, you can see that most of these behaviors are not new. However, the way you respond to them is new.
Overall, if you are like me you may notice these long term benefits of sobriety:
1. You are less reactive to situations (like in the above story) which normally would have brought you frustration or stress. In fact, you may take a neutral position.
2. You you are able to be more organized with your day, and you are able to keep your commitments. You stay on track better, and you are not so easily swayed by others on a whim and your day is not affected by their indecision or changes. (I still have issues with organization, however I'm a work in progress as they say.)
3. You recognize and respect your time and energy more when you are sober. This is actually my favorite one, and ties into keeping your scheduled time with yourself as a top priority. You can decide if spending time with someone who drains your energy is really worth your time. (Usually, it's not worth it.) You invest your time into people, places, and things that will bring the most joy and fulfillment for all!
Have you noticed any long term benefits of sobriety? If you have others then I'd love to know about them...
With love from the Midwest,