Delaying something can have various consequences. A deadline in work is meaningless a week later however putting off a trip, visiting a person, a place could cause regret and sadness later on. Live in the moment with an attitude of gratitude is difficult for me to practice when fear encroaches, develops and consumes. The fear arrives in the guise of perfectionism. Seductive negative talk manipulates the mind into inaction.
I started this blog post three days ago, progress halted by thoughts of online shopping, trash TV and fast food, yeah, procrastination. It’s not laziness, it’s routed in fear of adequacy. What can I contribute to the discussion of alcoholism, addiction and recovery that hasn’t already been addressed by AA and learned professionals? The answer comes when I allow humility to whisper after my ego has finished with the intrusive disparaging thoughts of ridicule.
Pondering procrastination I considered what it was like to drink zero percentage beer all those years ago. I was white-knuckling and trying desperately to regain my physical, mental health without resorting to what I knew best i.e. drinking into oblivion. Emotionally I felt guilty for surviving major surgery and wanting to drink. I knew the illness had suppressed my alcoholism and I sincerely wanted to gain employment and get my life back together again. I got some bottles of alcohol free lager to watch whilst watching the Formula One. The condensation on the glass surface of the bottle felt familiar. The clink of the bottle pinging another bottle as I took it from the refrigerator was a reminder that I had more bottles to come back to. Grasping the bottle opener and pivoting the crinkled cap off, gas smoking briefly as the fizz allows the hoppy smell to escape. The first taste is fresh, crisp at the back of my throat as I exhale the vapour through my nose, the taste biting as the liquid gulped down disperses into my body …not bad this stuff, not bad, as I look at the lable. The whole experience was a sensory explosion that was to inevitably encourage a deluge of alcoholic drinks some weeks later.
I think what I’m trying to say is that procrastination is a defensive move against intrusive thoughts and negative emotions that manifest as self fulfilling prophecies. Then the intrusive thoughts have a foundation on which to build bigger and more elaborate deceptions because hey, remember the last time you tried the non-alcoholic beer? It was fine right? A few real beer’s would be fine, right? Similarly, I find that in recovery I succumb to anxiety and depression fueled by procrastination routed in fear. Waking suddenly in the early hours with thoughts of an unfinished task or overthinking conversations is exhausting. I have to recite the Serenity Prayer many times in an attempt to make contact with my Higher Power so that I can find some peace and sanity. The wisdom to know the difference between the things I can change and the things I can’t comforts me in that dark lonely place we find ourselves in at times.
Procrastination is a byproduct of the avoidance I would achieve through active alcoholism. ‘Life on Life’s terms’ is fucking difficult to practice despite the term rolling off the tongue of most recovered alcoholics. I say ‘recovered’ because today I haven’t drank which means I am recovered from the hopeless state of body and mind I was once in. Recovery means acceptance of what life brings to us on a daily basis. I can ask for the willingness to believe I can make the best of any given day and the situations, places, people in that moment. I can choose to forgive myself and others. I can choose to practice restraint of tongue & pen i.e. I’ll keep the sarcastic remark to myself instead of being passively aggressive or I wont send that text in anger with exclamation marks, capital letters and rolling eye emoji’s.
On occasion I’ll make the wrong choice and procrastination will envelop my perspective with a mist of poor judgement and doubt. The lighthouse keeper is my sponsor and he tends to the light throughout the storm of life because he knows there’s half empty vessel’s like me thrashing around in the ocean hoping not to hit the jagged rocks. I have to type SOS in Morse Code if I want help. I have to steer myself towards calmer waters and enjoy the awe inspiring sunrise through humility, gratitude and grace.