Monday, June 13, 2011

A new light on a familiar idea

This idea of eating/drinking/spending to prevent the past from happening has really lingered with me. Saturday I was at an AA meeting and I was struck by two things: the Serenity Prayer and one of the most familiar AA sayings: "living life on life's terms."

I have always seen both of these (Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change) as talking about the present. We take each day as it comes, having an impact where we can, accepting what we can't impact. I don't think it ever occurred to me that they also speak to the past.

I cannot change my past. I cannot prevent it from happening no matter how much I eat or drink. It has happened. Some of that involves choices I made, some of it happened to me through other people's choices and limitations. Where I still have choice is in how I deal with the aftereffects and how long I choose to go on dealing with them.

Life's terms for me included a not very happy childhood with a specific trauma of loneliness and fear, an adolesence that was as painful as most, poor choices in partners, 20 years of drinking, 20 years of overeating. These are things I cannot change. Continuing to make poor choices or to numb out from my feelings or repeat any other old patterns, these are things I can change. And I just may be finally coming to have some wisdom to know the difference.

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