A very wise therapist I saw for a while used to ask me the same question at the start of every session.
"What's the same and what's different?"
As I was poking through October of 2009, my therapist's question played through my head: what's the same and what's different?
This time last year my husband and I were in the thick of deciding whether or not to go on Oprah to discuss my alcoholism and the roles denial and secrecy played in my addiction. We agonized over this decision, thinking that it could either be the best or worst experience of our lives. Of all the scenarios we discussed, the idea that it simply wasn't that big of a deal never occured to us. It was an amazing experience, to be sure, but it wasn't life altering. It brought some healing between my husband and me, which was amazing, and caused disruptions in other aspects of my life that I couldn't have foreseen. Not too long after the show everything had settled back into a normal pattern.
Maybe that's why I wrote so much about trying to live in the moment. I wanted the ability to let things go so badly that I was over thinking, over analyzing, paralyzing my ability to simply let things be.
Recently I was talking with some recovery friends about serenity, another concept that had always felt elusive to me. Surrender and serenity were two things I wanted - oh, did I want them - that I attacked achieving them with an Olympic athlete's zeal.
During this conversation it hit me: serenity had woven its way into my life, snuck in the side door, slipped under the covers undetected. What I had been feeling was bored. No big highs, no big lows. Just, well, maintenance.
I was confusing boredom with balance.
I'm in maintenance mode for a lot of things, now. My weight and my sobriety are two of the most obvious, but also in my marriage, my parenting. I'm no longer riding the scary swells of the first year or so of sobriety; things are settling down, taking on a comfortable predictability.
I was never good at predictablity. Along with an addiciton to alcohol, I was addicted to chaos. I was happiest, I thought, when there was some kind of drama going on, some knotty problem that needed unraveling.
At some point along the line, I stopped trying so damn hard to force things to yield to my almighty will, everything landed where it was meant to land. Balance worked its way into my life, slowly and silently.
So, what's the same and what's different? It's important to stop and ask myself that, on occasion, because if I don't it's easy to miss progress, or stay stuck in patterns that aren't working for me.
And right now? Now isn't good or bad. It simply is.