Progress Is Not A Linear Journey

Sometimes I feel as though my life consists of me spinning several plates in the air. Work, Writing, Career, Gym, Health, Friends, Sleep. I balance all of these things to varying degrees of success every day. Sometimes I make strides in one area, only to falter in another. Sometimes I grow and grow and then get set back, and discouraged.

I can write every day and feel really good about a draft that I’ve written or some editing that I’ve done- then I can go out of town and not write for a month. Like anything that requires effort, it is so much more difficult to get back on it than it is to keep it going. I try and write every day, and I know that I feel best when I do, but sometimes life gets in the way, and that makes it REALLY easy for me to get in the way.

Things at work can be going great, or things at work can be frustrating- I try to remind myself that it doesn’t really matter. My job is not my career- at the end of the day, it is in service to my writing, and anytime I treat it as something else I don’t have my priorities straight. I try and remember that whenever I start to get resentful at rude customers. Who cares? I’m not being paid to take on their problems. I’m paid to make coffee, and when I finish my shift, that’s when the real work begins.

I felt like I was doing really good with my diet- almost everything I eat is nutritious, and the minor cheats and treats I have aren’t harmful. It had been months since I’d felt out of control of my diet. But traveling takes me out of my routine, and little things like “I have to try Swiss chocolate!” led to me eating 600 calories of chocolate every day. Then when I got back to Los Angeles, I got back on my regular diet. But the craving was still there. I made some homemade ice cream with a healthy sugar alternative. I took a bite, and it was delicious. Then I took another, and another. Before I knew it, I’d eaten 800 calories. What was I doing? I set a timer for one minute and told myself at the end of that minute I’d stop eating. The timer went off. Just one more bite!

The second night that that happened, I thought to myself, “Okay, you know what to do. Just turn it over. It’s out of your control.”

So I put the container of ice cream in the sink and turned on the faucet. As I flushed the ice cream down the drain, I felt good about myself. But there was still that voice in the back of my head that said, “Well, there goes 8 months without binging.” But I know that even though this was a problem I felt like I’d conquered, these things are never going to go away entirely. And overall, I am growing. 8 months ago I would have eaten the entire container of ice cream until I felt sick, and then I would have kept eating. And it wouldn’t have been sugar free ice cream, I can tell you that much.

The one thing that is always solid is my foundation, which is my sobriety and my higher power. That is the thing I have to put first in order to make all the rest of it possible. I feel like, ever since I’ve gotten sober, my life has been slowly expanding, becoming bigger and bigger every day. I slowly take on new things, and bring them into my life. I make small strides in all of these areas as I build the life I want to have for myself. But my sobriety is the fount from which all of this springs. As long as I am sober, anything’s possible. And if I’m not, things like whether or not I’m writing or how much ice cream I eat are going to be the least of my problems. I’m grateful for where I’m at today. And I’m grateful to be sober.

-Theodore Dandy