Weighty Matters

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Going to Any Lengths

A few minutes ago, I wasn’t sure what to blog about tonight. A couple of thoughts and ideas flitted around in my brain. Earlier today I changed the setting on my alarm clock to 6:00 a.m. I am determined to wake up on purpose early every day so that I can get in solid exercise before I get ready for work.

Thinking about that made me think about a phrase that I heard first in Al-Anon and then later in OA. It comes from AA’s “Big Book”. “If you’ve decided you want we have and are willing to go to any lengths to have it, then you are ready to take certain steps.”

That was exactly what I needed to hear again tonight and remember. Being willing to go to any lengths to recover is a huge choice and a defining moment. It isn’t easy to always maintain — that commitment of willingness — but it’s necessary, or recovery will be a fleeting thing.

With this in my head, I Googled so that I could find the exact reference. Instead, I found an absolutely kick-ass essay online. From 2011, it’s attributed to John MacDougall, the Director of Spiritual Guidance at Hazelden — a famous addiction treatment center. Click here to read the entire essay.

Regardless of the drug of choice for the addict — narcotics, alcohol, food — the addiction itself is powerful, often it feels more powerful than any frail human willingness. This essay, however, reinforces another power — the power to choose recovery. I also love when Dr. MacDougall says that we don’t negotiate our recovery.

I must choose my abstinence from compulsive eating, choose my recovery, every day. Then, as Dr. MacDougall says, I find out what the price each day will be. Some days, like today, will be relatively easy. Some will take more effort and require me to give up more in order to sustain my recovery another 24 hours. The price might mean not eating that unplanned dessert or not giving into the anger/upset/stress caused by a situation I run into. Whatever the case, I cannot, will not, wake up with anything less than total commitment. It doesn’t work to say that I will remain abstinent as long as it’s a good day or as long as nothing happens that stresses me out, or even as long as I don’t get a super craving for a favorite food that isn’t on my plan.

A high level of commitment in action engenders successful recovery. That’s what I want. I’m willing to go to any length to achieve it.