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Small Acts of Defiance

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Why get better?

What’s the point?

Apathy offers to numb everything for me. I crave it, I don’t want to give a shit about anything. It’s much easier to function in this world that way. If I don’t think too much about anything, I can coast without any real emotions. Emotions are unpredictable, and they trigger cravings and desires and impulsive reactions that I don’t want to deal with.

Depression lingers at the edge. Sometimes the dark tendrils snake their way into the crevices of my brain, grabbing my energy and optimism and motivation and smothering all of it together. Just let me stare at the ceiling for a few hours before I go to bed and after I wake up, I’ll be ok eventually. Maybe.

I often feel like there’s a long hallway in my brain with countless doors.

The doors open to resentments, hopes, dreams, fears, the things I need to do tomorrow, politics, the grocery shopping I haven’t done yet, my son’s behavior issues at school, my daughter’s insecurities, my marriage, upcoming court dates with my ex-husband, debt, insecurities, work, All The Things I Need To Do, all the things I wish I’d done.

When I’m “spiritually fit”, I can approach the doors in a way that makes sense. I can better determine what I can control, and what I can’t, and I leave the doors and issues that I can’t control alone or pray for help to surrender them. I might talk about them or think about them sometimes, I might “peek in” to stay acquainted if I have to in order to handle a part of it, but I don’t live there. I don’t stay.

When depression, anxiety, and stress start to overwhelm me, all of the doors look ominous and scary.

Everything feels like a threat, and it’s harder to determine which doors I need to open and which ones I need to leave alone. I wander around aimlessly.

I open doors that I should have bolted and left alone, and I ignore doors that do need my attention. I stand in front of the open refrigerator eating handfuls of shredded cheese for dinner because I can’t think or plan otherwise. It looks like isolating myself from people, because I have all I can handle right now. People introduce new doors and situations that I don’t want to think about. I go numb, and slowly more paralyzed.

Sobriety doesn’t make all of this go away forever, at least not for me. Working my program does help, though. It gives me something to grab, something to do when I don’t feel like I can do anything.

This morning, I didn’t want to eat breakfast. I just wanted to go back to bed and stare at the ceiling. Eating would require energy and thought. I made myself scrambled eggs and coffee anyway, then I sat down and wrote this post.

It’s a small defiance, one way that I stand up to that force that tells me I’m not worth any of this. The one that tells me there’s no point to any of this, that I’m a miserable failure anyway and might as well accept that. I won’t accept that. Even when I’m exhausted and don’t feel like I can muster up a single give-a-shit. Especially then. That’s when the little acts of defiance feel the most important.

Running and lifting weights when I’m feeling on top of the world isn’t a huge victory for me. It is wonderful and still good for me, but it isn’t difficult. Exercising consistently when I’m wrestling with depression is an act of defiance, and I come away stronger for it. Showering every day. Writing out a to-do list, and doing at least one important thing that moves me forward in my goals (making that phone call, meeting with that person, whatever), is an act of defiance.

I believe that God keeps me sober, and keeps me going. Even when I don’t feel like it, even when I don’t care anymore. It helps me to remember that I don’t have to fight this darkness alone. In fact, I couldn’t. I tried for years, and the only thing that worked was inviting God and other people into the fight with me. Or rather, surrendering – but not to the darkness. Surrendering to a Power greater than myself. For me – Jesus.

So what’s the point?

“Do not be discouraged. No one among us has been able to maintain anything like perfect adherence to these principles. We are not saints. The point is that we are willing to grow along spiritual lines. The principles we have set down are guides to progress. We claim spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection.” – pg. 60, Big Book of AA (How It Works), emphasis mine

I like that.

One day, I could break down and drink. I have no idea. Obviously, I pray that never happens, and I work on what I can. That’s a worry and a “door” that I try not to open.

Today, I ate breakfast. I ran 3 miles yesterday. I did the dishes, and I took a shower. Today, I’ll go to work and provide for my children, and I’ll be thankful for my life and everything in it.

Depression tells me that nothing matters, and nothing I do makes any difference anyway. That just isn’t true.

I may not really know what “the point” is at all times, but I do see the positive ripple effects of my recovery in my family. And I’ve seen what happens when I give up on myself – all I get is more darkness and pain.

Today, I choose defiance through prayer and gratitude. One foot in front of the other. It will get better, I just have to keep trudging along on this road of happy destiny. I hope you are trudging along with me, or if not, you find your way. ♥

Related reading:

Defying The Voice

3 Simple Habits That Are Changing My Life

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  1. Victoria on March 20, 2019 at 9:49 pm

    I love reading your blog. This post really helped put words to describe how I feel. Thank you so much for this insight, it helps me feel less crazy! Sometimes knowing that you’re not alone is all you need ❤️

    • Ashley Ann on April 13, 2019 at 6:35 pm

      Thank you! I hope you’re doing well, and yes it does help to know we’re not alone. <3

  2. Carla on March 13, 2019 at 8:17 am

    Doors, hallways, staring at the ceiling.. Oh yes. I’ve made hard promises this Lenten season and finding greater support. Guess it’s OK to turn away, try something different and just trudge on through even alone. I seriously need to beef up my exercise more…get those good hormones perking. Nice post Ash!

    • Ashley Ann on April 13, 2019 at 6:34 pm

      Thinking of you – sorry this reply is late, I’ve been off the grid a bit myself. Thanks for all your encouragement. <3

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Sitting on top of Pike's Peak in Colorado, a little over 2 years sober.

Hi! I'm Ashley, and my sobriety date is May 6, 2015. I write to share my experience, strength, and hope in recovery. On any given day, you can find me developing websites, writing, or chauffeuring kids around.  Read my story...

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