I’ll take it.

It was dark during most of my morning walk. As I returned across the parking lot beyond the courtyard, the light percolating up through the grey dawn had gathered enough strength to dispel the ambient anxieties of nighttime walking. I was no longer making my way warily through an indistinct landscape. It was day.

At about that moment when I relaxed into daytime walking mode, I realized that I was glad to be up. I use the word “realized” because the mental state of gladness was secondary to the physical sensation that had just crept over me. My satisfaction at having already finished a walk while most folks were still in bed was a construct that could not have stood except in the space cleared by my body’s mere rejoicing.

The feeling was familiar, but surprising. I used to get it all the time, but during the last few months I’ve been… what’s the word for “lost” that includes gladness? I was glad to be lost. I was glad not to be getting up. I was glad not to be exercising. I was glad to have an excuse.

I slashed my knee open, right down to the joint capsule. Had to have the damned thing in a brace, fully extended, for two weeks. What an excuse, eh? I moped, I started eating, and I didn’t do the upper-body exercises that I could have done. This is what always happens. No matter how much I prepare for it, the same thing always seems to happen. I guess it won’t stop happening until I stop wanting excuses for it to happen.

I saw that truth a few weeks ago, so I finally decided to give OA a try. I’ve gone to two meetings so far. It’s hard, but it’s a good hard. That doesn’t surprise me. What surprises me is that I’ve encountered a… person… there. Let’s call this person “X”. I have such a strong negative reaction to X that I don’t think I can keep going back to that particular group.

I won’t go into details, at least not here. Suffice it to say that, after two encounters with X, I don’t think there’s a fight-or-flight response system in my being left untriggered. Picture big red buttons, flashing fire truck lights, nails on chalkboard, cat fur being rubbed the wrong way, and grainy black-and-white films of World War II runways with klaxons moaning their way up to a yowl that makes you plug your ears.

To say that X has personality traits that I abhor is an understatement. I gauge my success as a human being by the degree to which I suppress the voices to which X seems to give full throat. X embodies everything I’ve spent a good fifteen years striving not to be.

But X is not the point right now, and I thank my lucky stars for Grace being around to help me see that. I talked through my feelings with her, and she said that I’m not responding to X, but rather to the memories that X triggers. At first I rejected this notion, because I felt that my emotions came from my anger at seeing X wallow in a behavior pattern that I’ve worked so hard never to indulge in. But then she pointed out that there’s a reason why I vowed never to indulge in those behaviors: at some point I felt trapped by someone who behaved in those same ways. Once she said that, I realized that I’d come to the emotional core of my reaction.

Oh, and then there’s the milk.

See, we ran out of milk yesterday. And it turned out that Grace was scheduled to go to work early today. So, since I intended to get milk for her morning coffee, I wanted see if I could get an early morning walk out of the deal. I set my alarm, and the secondary alarm in the kitchen, for 5:30, hoping against hope that I’d actually follow through. And what do you know? I did!

I don’t know why I got out on a walk this morning. Maybe I’ve simply been away long enough, and I’m ready to stop accepting excuses and come back. Maybe seeing X deepened my resolve to be the person I want to be. Maybe the emotional catharsis of winding my way through my feelings about X released some energy. Maybe it was the milk what done it.

I don’t know what caused it, but it felt good. I’ll take it.

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One Response to “I’ll take it.”

  1. Joe Check Says:

    I like this. OA is a mutual help group, and the help can come in a negative
    way sometimes. Of course, the meeting needs to be safe for you; and you can explore other meetings. I have a friend, Tim B., who just moved back to
    Manhatten from Hyde Park and who goes to meetings you might explore. Let me know if you would like to contact him.

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