When we’re running the world we can order any present we want. We can even say how it should be wrapped and delivered. Unfortunately, none of us is running the world.
In active addiction we feel we have to run the world, because it keeps disappointing us when we don’t. After a while, the lucky ones realize that it’s even more disappointing when we do. So in recovery, we learn to not run the show. We learn that it isn’t us versus them. We learn that if we leave it alone and don’t try to run it, the world works pretty well.
One aspect of this learning is that not everything comes to us looking the way we think it should. We’re used to seeing gifts wrapped up as nice pretty packages, but sometimes some of the best stuff comes wrapped in sandpaper with a barbed wire bow.
I hear from recovering people all the time that the best thing that happened to them is the one thing they never wanted. I hear all the time stories about how what someone thought was a tragedy at the time turned out to be a great gift.
When we’re not running the show, we don’t get to say how the gifts should come wrapped. Life is lived best with our hand open, ready to receive the next gift regardless of how it looks at the time, not with our fist closed on the last thing we got that we really want to keep.
Now you probably thought I was going to get through a blog without saying something about neurobiology, but you’d be wrong. When we live life without expectation we don’t suffer from the loss of dopamine receptors that comes when we’re disappointed. So we feel better, and life actually is better; not because we just decided to see things positively, but because we stopped hurting our brain by not seeing the sandpaper package as the gift it is.
© Howard C Wetsman MD FASAM