As I moved through my day, it occurred to me that I never wrote what my successes were or what I meant by success. For me, success is very 12-steppy. Success is change in behavior. Success is ceasing the cause oneself harm. If it is AA, success is abstinence from alcohol because one drink is not enough. For me and my addiction to spending, it is tight adherence to my budget, checking my balance before spending, and remembering to think ahead to other planned spending. Success is naming my feelings and not behaving in harmful ways while feeling them. So here are a few of my quiet successes.
- I found the urgency to attend an ACOA meeting on my way home from my last trip away to be a success in lifestyle change. I absolutely know I need my group’s give and take as I work my program. I need to see them once a week to feel normal.
- Recently I bought a loveseat for my studio. It is a success that I have made it on my own for 3 1/2 years now. It is a success that my life is stable enough to buy something large and upholstered. I haven’t had upholstered furniture in 15 years.
- Buying the loveseat was a success financially. I saw it in a resale shop window, fell in love, and had the cash on hand to buy it. This was good discipline in saving for something large.
- After moving in my new couch, it was a success for me not to go all nuts spending on the rest of the room to make it perfect. I stopped with a couple sets of rugs-new for me.
- In terms of relationships, I have been wanting to pull away. I feel like I am getting to close to a few people and them to me. Length of time is a big deal to me. I have been in some peoples’ lives too long. My success is that I haven’t moved away. I haven’t tried to get closer either. I have stayed the middle ground. Very strange……
- Another relational success is that I am neither bailing on my job nor behaving badly. I am squarely committed to my co-workers until I am not. I finally feel like I belong, I am part of a larger group, I have a place. These are gigantic successes.
- Even though I swim most days, I am still kinda stiff and tight. I really wanted to find an exercise class on the cheap. I found one for free! It is exactly what I need and the time is perfect for swimming and getting to work afterwards.
- A couple of weekends ago I went on a retreat. The expense turned out to be problematic due to an additional $246 dollars in bills. I applied for scholarship funds and was granted them. The monumental success was in the asking for help. This I never do.
- There was a problem within my 12-step group. A plan was made to deal with it in order to keep the meeting safe. My role required me to step up in ways I haven’t for a long time. I successfully stood my ground under fire from someone trying to best me and ignore our 12-step speak. This was a success for my group as well.
- For a week I had a nagging sensation to check my budget. I didn’t, but at least the nagging is firmly in place. I went downtown on a mission. The successes were that I got cash out before I went, only bought what I went for, and kept a running total for the day. I repeatedly reminded myself of upcoming expenses. I have a tendency to hurt myself out of a very short memory.
- I thought finally yelling at the guy who was following me was a pretty big success. I will remember in the future to leave much sooner when someone is being that pushy. It is also a success that I am not so scared that I won’t venture out on my own again.
- Finally, today when I did check my budget and my outgoing bills, I am short funds. My tummy sank to my toes. There were some successes though. One, I hadn’t entered the bills in the computer to get paid out draining my account. I must have already seen the problem coming. This is great on my part, I gave myself room to plan for being short. Two, I am ahead in my rent. Over time I worked my way to being ahead so if I didn’t have the money, rent was not an issue. Now, moving on, I need to generate more income and fortify even better. Three, I didn’t panic. The success was that I did send out what I safely could, I filled my gas tank, bought groceries and pet needs, then I rearranged my budget. I didn’t buy some things on my list, but I insisted on hot-trigger items. I cannot deprive myself of things I have deprived myself of before and then suffered. Deprivation will cause me to act out. The success is I know that.
- A baker’s dozen might be a fun place to end. I feel sad. I feel sad that I’ve only made it this far in life financially. I feel sad about my “potential” unreached, opportunities not used to my maximum benefit, no family to support my personal success developmentally, educationally, financially, professionally. My success is recognizing that this is sadness. My success was not spending out of sadness today. I am learning how to operate in my sadness without harming myself, how to peek above it.
One day at a time. One success at a time. One rearrangement at a time. Slowly the new changed behaviors become the norm. Ya, there will be shortfalls, the dyke will spring forth with bad behavior, I will gobble chocolates of excess; but not only will I survive success, I will learn to thrive.