With all due respect to the words “epic”, “literally” and “awkward” the word miracle has got be one of the most overused and misused words in the English language. A great parking space, Miley Cyrus in pants, 2 for one bacon cheeseburgers, a short line at the airport– all of them get labeled miracles on social media or in casual conversation. In recovery, the word gets tossed around with even more liberally. People back from a relapse, what’s-his-face getting 90 days, newcomers to a meeting– also all miracles. And yet those are the kind of miracles I really believe in. I mean the fact that me and all of the addicts/alcoholics I know aren’t dead seems like a bona fide miracle to me. And yet there’s such a thing as a “certified miracle” too. Like this story of a woman in Costa Rica who recovered from a deadly brain aneurysm after looking at a photo of Pope John Paul II. So what is a miracle anyway and who the heck certifies them? While my brain tries to untangle this, please enjoy Barry Manilow in an epic performance that will literally blow your mind. Sparkly sweater alert in 5,4,3,2,1….
While the Barry-break got me no closer to a better understanding of the word, I do think Sean Mahoney: Miracle Certifier would make an excellent reality show for A&E. Webster’s defines it, primarily as, “an extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs.” Sounds good enough to me and completely applicable to events I can’t explain. Like Courtney Love and Dave Grohl making up after 20-years.
Or Prince and Warner Brothers finally burying the hatchet leading to a re-issue of Purple Rain!
Or this little fish who became the first fish ever to be taken off the endangered species list!
Or this 13-year-old who survived being shot in the head!
Or maybe a miracle to you looks like not getting fired when you should have been or being nice to your mother-in-law at dinner despite wanting to slap her or not getting pulled over for that busted tail light you can’t afford to fix. I guess my point is, whatever miracle you’re celebrating today, congratulations. You deserve miracles, no matter what they look like. Literally.
It’s painfully clear to me that I am becoming a homosexual of a certain age when things like vacuuming and picking out a toilet bowl cleaner have become truly soul-satisfying experiences. From licking cocaine off of the private parts of strangers to Windexing my glass coffee table while I’ll listen to the Stephen Sondheim Pandora station– if my dealer could see me now! Granted, I’m not insane about cleaning. Cleaning didn’t become my new tequila. No, I’m still gleefully disorganized and live in a romantic state of what I like to call, “writer messy.” Still, working nearly full-time from home does require me to be a little more put together and it’s easier to create when my desk isn’t doubling as The Tiny Scrap of Paper and Dead Pen Museum. Considering my old drunk house had a sunroom filled with water damaged yet empty appliance boxes, VHS tapes of bad 80s porn and mysterious toenail clippings, I do okay today in the cleaning and organizing department. If only the upkeep and cleaning of my personal life was as easy.
We are told in recovery that if we don’t drink, trust a higher power, help others and clean house, we’ll do alright. The clean house thing is always a struggle for me. Drunk me always liked to shove it in a closet and shut the door when it came to actual and emotional messes. Out of sight, out of mind. Out of control. This method of avoidance maintenance, unfortunately, no longer works for me. At three-plus years of sobriety, I can run but I hide. I’ve had little personality flaws, flaming character defects and some shitty habits show up on my doorstep recently. Instead of facing the music and dancing, I’ve decided to sit this one out and wait for a song I like better. In other words, I’m dealing by not dealing. As previously stated, this kind of shenanigan can’t go on for long. After being really uncomfortable and causing a fair amount of personal drama, I had to grab the metaphoric broom and mop and clean my shit up. This involved but was not limited to such delightful activities as admitting I was wrong, listening to someone I hurt without getting to attack them in return, and owning some really awful behavior. Ugh. I’d rather cleanup the toenails.
Unlike a sparkly clean bathroom blinding with it’s whiteness and smelling like a bleach bouquet, the benefits of personal cleanups aren’t always immediate. Usually for me they require a change in attitude and action. A week has passed since my mess was uncovered and the cleanup process began. This so-called major overhaul and shameful mess hasn’t been so bad. What I thought required an emotional forklift really just needed some honesty and humility. (Which by the way is not in the same aisle as paper towels and Ajax. I looked.) Sure, I’d like to be able to shut the door and say, “Nothing to see here, move along!” on my personal disasters. But as a person in recovery, it’s a luxury I no longer have. Today, I get to face stuff, clean things up and continue to change. And that’s pretty terrific.
So pass the Pine-Sol and pump up the jams!
Being me in a relationship means spending a lot of time apologizing, coming clean, admitting to whackadoodle behavior and saying sorry. I do this to catch myself and to call myself out and mainly to prevent myself from acting a fool in the future. Yet every so often I’m a human being and I act like a total jackass and no mea culpa can get me out of it. Yeah I’ve recovered from alcoholism and addiction but I haven’t completely recovered from being a self-obsessed, ego-driven jackass. Take last night for example. Please.
The husband and I had a misunderstanding that snowballed into a flurry of hurt feelings, definitive “I quit!”- type of declarations and general huffing and moping. In addition to being married to one another we collaborate on theatrical and artistic projects. Most of the time we work well together. Last night was not one of those times. As I piece together the recent history of my assholery, I can see exactly where things went wrong. He was already in a bad mood when a work topic came up late last night after a day of rehearsals from Satan. Instead of just agreeing or offering to table the talk until later, I wanted to lock horns. Translation: I wanted to be right and wanted him to feel bad. Well as you can guess that worked out fabulously for me and we didn’t really talk until late this afternoon after spending several hours feeling horrible. I apologized last night. But it was kind of a Splenda apology, you know not the real thing. I was sort of like “I’m sorry but you suck because of …” Yeah not a great apology especially from somebody who routinely has to say sorry for the stupid things they’ve done. The fact is I was in the wrong for verbally jumping down his throat but I was too pissed off to admit I was wrong. This morning, he went to a work thing and I stomped off to a meeting. As I walked home, I felt sad that I was horrible to my best friend and sad that I allowed myself to act like such a tool. I don’t have fights or drama or ‘stuff’ with people anymore so when I do it really makes me feel awful. Luckily, we cleared the air when I returned and after some veggie pasta and reality TV, things got back to normal. I even apologized for my crappy apology and gave him the heartfelt, real thing.
The lesson here was one I seem to have to keep learning: I’m not done. I’ll probably have to keep saying sorry and admitting when I’m wrong and praying for willingness to change as long as I live. And that’s okay. It sure beats bitching in a bar somewhere about how the world is out to get me and how I’ve been done wrong. Talk about a sorry existence.