It was near my 9th month of sobriety. I had seen dark days. I had lived through them. But the cloud of irritation seemed to follow me around like a shadow. On one particularly angsty afternoon, I found my seat in a meeting where I knew few people. My rhythm of attendance was primarily grounded in women’s meetings at this point. But in the absence of availability, I valued the comfort of the familiar room. As I settled in for the prompt top of the hour start, a familiar face from my women’s group walked in.
Having years of experience and a voice that I trusted, I was happy to listen to her share on the meeting’s topic. With the perfect amount of humor and a pinpoint infusion of hope, this woman was one that admired. We were not close, yet she had heard my story in meetings enough to know the outline of the past few months.
I was called on to speak during the meeting and I spouted my frustration and bitterness at whom or whatever I was fixated on that day. With little regard for anyone but me, I shared my righteous indignation about my current state. Knowing my head space at this time, I’m sure I wrapped my share with a positive spin and probably a hat-tip to what I knew I was supposed to do. Keep coming back.
After the meeting, my friend came over to speak to me one-on-one. I will never, ever, forget the exchange. After asking some engaging but surface-y question, she moved in for the kill.
“You know, you have a choice. You can quit fighting.”
With little thought for the direction of this statement, I inquisitively engaged my ears.
“It is your choice to be miserable. You will continue to see all of the negative of your situation until you choose to do something different.”
I wasn’t sure how to respond. I feel fairly sure that I didn’t say anything out loud. I can, however, vividly recall the internal monologue. It went something like this: I don’t know who you think you are and what gives you the right, but if you only knew….
Let me just leave the rest of that to your imagination. I feel certain that you get the idea. I got in my car and drove home. I was mad. Perhaps even more irritated than when I arrived. But it was different. This was an anger at myself. This was an anger that was necessary. This was the anger that I needed to propel me out of the self-pity that was running my life.
That night, I had a choice. That is why this is my Maundy Thursday moment. I had a choice to pick up the cup of gratitude and drink it. I had spent months listing and blaming and fueling my desire to avoid the fact that these problems were of my own making. On that day, when I was confronted with a harsh and painful truth, I had a choice to walk towards a solution rather than dwelling in the bottomless pit of self loathing.
This was a turning point in my life because I had a choice to make. There was no way to be convinced or coerced into this revelation. This day, I had to walk heart first into a new way of living. This would require a level of surrender that I could not even imagine. Sure, I had a long way to go. The road was far from over. Matter of fact, picking up the cup of gratitude was actually one of the easiest things I did in the next few month. Thursday still had some joy and there were moments of clarity and hope in the coming weeks.
But, Friday was coming.