This winter has been a true testament to the adage that we must live life on life’s terms.
Up in my little corner of the world, the winter weather has been damn near relentless since late October. The New Year started with a frozen-solid bang, with temperatures hovering around -2 Fahrenheit. With a few weeks of respite between then and now, I’d say almost everybody here is ready for winter to take its final bow and exit stage left.
As I write this, I’m standing at my kitchen island looking outside at a snowy, wintry “wonderland”. If the extended forecast is at all accurate, we’re looking at one–maybe two–more snowstorms in the next week.
Guys, I want to be OK with this, because there’s literally nothing I can do to change what’s coming. Such is the frustrating (and scary) reality that is weather, and life in general. Sometimes, a season holds on past its due date, and there’s little we can do but bundle up extra tight and brave the cold. We can survive it, sure, though we may not feel like we’re able to thrive in it. We just put one boot in front of the other and hope we don’t slip and fall on our asses on the way.
Is that something we should just get used to? This seemingly endless deluge of gross, cold, wet, sloppy snow? It seems like a lesson for many aspects of life, sobriety included. That’s why we huddle in groups and recite the serenity prayer, tell ourselves that we must live life on life’s terms, and reassure each other that “this too shall pass”. We cope with life’s seasons by admitting we can’t control the vast majority of what happens around us. Sometimes it helps–we keep trudging on and gripe about it in jest with each other, all while putting our faith into the idea that yes, this actually WILL pass. Someday. Somehow.
So what does it say about people like me, who rail against things like the never-ending winter (I know it will end) and who get grumpy, on-edge, tense, or just flat-out depressed about the weather? Even when we know there’s nothing to be done about it but keep going? I’ve endured so many difficult seasons in my life, both of the weathery-type and not, that sometimes I let myself fall into the thought trap that I am “deserving” of something better.
Don’t we deserve spring up here in the Midwest? Don’t we deserve warmth and sunshine and flowers? We’ve been hidden beneath jackets and scarves and hats and mittens and boots for so many months that it’s hard to recall what a lazy day at the beach even looks like anymore.
And the same goes for sobriety. A lot of us have endured so many difficult, trying, heartbreaking situations through our individual journies through sobriety–don’t we deserve a break? Don’t we deserve that relaxing vacation, the perfectly clean house, the schedules filled only with things we want to do, not what we have to do? Don’t we deserve the perfect partner and the perfect children (or pets) and the job of our dreams? Is this not what we have endured the shit-slogging pain of getting and staying sober for?
Ok, maybe I’m being a bit dramatic. This winter will indeed pass, and we will once again know what green grass and unfrozen lakes look like. Similarly, sober life isn’t all trial and tribulation–it would be a horrible disservice to characterize it as such. With every ounce of pain, there’s a whole cup of joy. We endure the extended winters in anticipation of the sweet, humid summers–and when that summer comes, we eat ice cream in the park in our bare feet and shorts, all made sweeter with the knowledge that we survived yet another winter to get here.
Until then, I’ll be huddled under blankets at home or grumbling my way through the icy terrain. I’m trying, okay?