"Happiness is knowing when to avoid perfection" - my law school roommate's refrigerator. When I was in law school, my roommate had a dry eraser board on his refrigerator with that saying written on it. It really did not make sense to me until I came into recovery. When I was growing up, I was taught that success looked like going to the right college, having the right job and doing it all without looking tired or showing any "negative" emotions. Religion for me was about having the right God and the right theology. Happiness was having all of those things together in one neat package. But what about the brokenness in my personal life? What about the stress? What about the repressed emotions? Well that is what alcohol and workaholism were for. That is what working out in the gym for two hours was about. My goal was to numb out or avoid those pesky emotions. Just study harder, work longer, drink more on the weekends and everything will be fine. Unfortunately, my witches brew of unhealthy behavior stopped working for me. I started to consider whether I needed to surrender. I didn't want to. I believed in no surrender. Like the Japanese soldiers from World War II who kept fighting until the 1970's, I was determined to keep living by own creed way after the war was already lost. I might have been fooling other people, but I was not fooling myself or God. I was done. I hit an emotional rock bottom and realized I needed to change.
Someone once told me that recovery is like riding a snail and hitting it daily with a horse whip; it is very slow going. He was right, but by admitting to my many imperfections, I have been given three amazing gifts: the ability to show emotion, the courage to be vulnerable, and the humility to ask for help. The snail is finally moving in the right direction. All of these gifts have been God doing what I could not do for myself. Through recovery, I have also connected more deeply with my church and the people in it. I am honored to be involved with the Recovery Ministries of the Episcopal Church and look forward to helping others who struggle. God promises that we will never have more than we can bear and that there is another way to live free from drama and addiction: "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it." 1 Corinthians 10:13-14.