The alarm on my phone awakened me from a dream that had transported me back to my childhood home on Highland Avenue. The dream quickly disintegrated as soon as I tried to hold onto it. I slung my legs over the side of the bed, grabbed my phone and shuffled into the living room and flipped open my laptop. It was 6:01 a.m. and priority registration had just opened up on the local junior college website. Art History and Intro to Psychology. Click. Click. Pay. Done. I picked up a Sharpie and drew a thick black line through the words register for summer semester classes on my to-do list.
While I was sitting down enjoying my first cup of coffee, a friend texted me and congratulated me on my 15 month of continuous sobriety. 15 months? Today? Really? Yes, really.
And that's how it's been over this last month. The mental obsession over alcohol is finally retreating and on my very good days, I forget about it altogether. I never thought this would be the case, but it turns out I'm not right about everything. Shocker.
The beginning of the month found me meeting with my Sponsor and working on Step 6. This step is where I looked back on the fourth column of my Step 4 resentment inventory and, specifically, my part in those resentments, and turned them over to God. Things like Fear, Dishonesty, Procrastination, Self-seeking, Judgment, Pride, Jealousy, and Bitterness.
We held hands, said a prayer and symbolically handed my character defects over to my Higher Power. And with that transference completed, I had just completed Step 7.
Now, in the past, I would have picked these two steps apart for months and resisted completing them. I would have argued that the language was antiquated and that I didn't have any defects of character. I especially would have argued about the idea of God or a Higher Power. I would have gotten in my own way and fought the A.A. way tooth and nail. But a funny thing happened on the way to living a sober life for me, I realized that when I stopped struggling, when I stopped justifying my actions, when I realized I needed to do a better job at picking my battles - I calmed down. My anxieties melted away. I felt at peace.
Now, don't get me wrong, it's not all rainbows and unicorns over here, but ever since I handed those character defects over to my Higher Power, I've felt free. I've felt like the slate has been wiped clean. In the past, I would have scoffed at this phrase (because, you know, judgment...), but now it seems so fitting - I felt reborn.
My Sponsor then asked me to spend some time writing and reflecting on the character defects that I just handed over to my Higher Power and so that's what I've been doing.
Procrastination was first up on my defect list and boy did I have some quick realizations about this one. I almost immediately started seeing the lessons because I use the art of procrastination in almost everything I do and let me tell you, it takes up A TON OF ENERGY. I've learned that I'm one of those people who likes to wait until the last minute to do everything. And while I've joked about this fact, I didn't truly understand the lengths that I will go to to put things off.
Getting gas seems to be high up there on the list for some reason, as well as any and all assigned reading (that even includes book club books). Making travel arrangements and paying my bills - basically parting with money is hard for me, so I put it off until the last possible second. Making phone calls, fixing administrative problems that require additional paperwork and filing any and all paperwork in its proper place. Asking for help ranks pretty high up on the list, too.
Like the Cree Indian saying I quoted above, I think the biggest lesson I've learned this month has been that procrastination is the thief of joy. My joy is diminished when I wait until the last minute. My joy is lessened when I spend a lot of mental energy calculating how I'm going to get things done in time and moving things around to accommodate my need to put things off. My quality of life is joyless in those moments of fretting and figuring out another way. I have to make it a priority to get things done in a timely fashion, so that I can recapture some of the joy from those intentional acts. I have to. I want to.
I've been writing about procrastination for three weeks now and I'll continue to pay attention and analyze its role in my daily life. It's been a great teacher this month. I feel ready to tuck procrastination away, not too far out of reach, but far enough to allow me to move on to my next character defect writing assignment. Next up, writing and analyzing JUDGMENT and my part in it.
Oh, the fun I make for myself.
Happy to wake up without a hangover today.
Proud to be 15th months sober.
Oh, and I've got to sign off now because I have to finish reading a short story by Junot Diaz for my 1 o'clock English class. There's going to be a quiz, too. You see that? I just wrote this post as a way to avoid finishing my homework.
I'm absolutely, 100% a work in progress.
p.s. If you like the t-shirt I'm wearing in the first photo, you can buy one, too! Holly and Laura co-hosts of the HOME podcast are selling these intorvert-themed shirts for a limited time only (until May 18th!) to raise money for new sound equipment for their podcast. You can click on this link and go directly to the campaign and order your shirt! Don't procrastinate. Do it soon! Before they sell out!