Let Me Out of My Way

November 1, 2009

Let Me Out of My Way

Let Me Out of My Way

Greetings, fellow trudgers “on the road of happy destiny”…

Today, a war story. Some years ago, friends and I crashed a fraternity party at a local university. As the evening’s “designated driver” (back then we called it “the short straw”) it was my job at the close of festivities to herd the primates safely back to The Zoo (our school, a humble institution that couldn’t afford luxuries like frat houses, classes—or grades).

At the head count, I couldn’t find Michael. The last anyone had seen of him, he had mumbled something about being “too hammered,” and wandered off, presumably to catch a quick “Barf ‘N Nap.”

After a brief safari, I found him in the frat house basement. The room was decorated in the style I refer to as “early psychedelic dungeon”—Hendrix and Dead posters, black lights, colored bulbs (the reprise of disco balls being a ways off still), pounding music—and Michael. He was passed out cold in a nastily frayed and stained Queen Anne chair. I yelled over the music, “Michael, we have to go!” but he didn’t budge. I yelled louder and shook his shoulder, still no response. So, I screamed “MICHAEL!!” and whacked him upside the head, us being close and all.

That time I think he heard me. His eyes exploded open, he lunged up and grabbed me by the shirt, flailing his arms around and dragging me with him. I tried to steady us before we went down in a looming puddle of beer, and he turned to me in a fit and shouted…

“LET ME OUT OF MY WAY!!!”

Years have passed, but not much time goes by one of us doesn’t remind Michael of that now-famous line. Lately that idea keeps coming up for me: indeed, please do—let me out of my way.

Whether I use words like “compulsive self-reliance,” “Let Go and Let God,” “Turn it over,” or the hundred other euphemisms I’ve heard for the Third Step in the Twelve Steps of Recovery (“3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him.”), the message remains the same: left to my very own best thinking, I ended up needing help in more rooms of recovery than I can count on one hand. And I have seven fingers on one hand. Do the math.

Sometimes I’m blessed to get useful reminders—both gentle and not—of some basic facts:

1. I am not the architect of the arc of my life

2. I am not the “director” of this particular production [for more on this see the AA Big Book, “How It Works,” pp 60-62]

3. I am not in charge of you, him, them, it—or anyone or anything else

It is then that I remember that I’m not powerless. I always have the power to resist changing. I have the power to deny that I need help from  you, from recovery, from a Higher Power. I have the power to forget to pray and meditate, to rationalize missing recovery meetings or reading literature. I have the power to indefinitely postpone working on a step. I have the power to refuse to grow up. I have the power to avoid the “hundred pound phone” and isolate when I most need to reach out for help. I am powerful indeed.

I’m blessed to be reminded of these things on a daily basis (sometimes via the “tiny miracle,” but more often via the “total screwup”). I begin to open the door to let powers greater than myself in. From there, I’m more able to receive and accept the direction, strength and hope that leads me to peace of mind, blessed connectedness to you, and great joy in being able to fully experience all of it—the ups and the downs—wherever I am in this most amazing process of change.

In every case, it’s about me getting out of my own way…

Happy trails!

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