I have always marveled at the (sort of) last line in Alcoholics Anonymous:
Abandon yourself to God as you understand God. Admit your faults to Him and to your fellows. Clear away the wreckage of your past. Give freely of what you find and join us. We shall be with you in the Fellowship of the Spirit, and you will surely meet some of us as you trudge the Road of Happy Destiny.
Some of that quote sounds inspiring, some sounds practical, some kind of heavy … but “trudge the Road of Happy Destiny”? From the first time I heard that, I thought, “Ya know, if I’m on the Road of Happy Destiny, it sure seems like I’d be skipping or something, not ‘trudging’.”
I just looked up “trudge” in an online dictionary, and here’s what I found: “walk slowly and with heavy steps, typically because of exhaustion or harsh conditions.” Synonyms include plod, tramp, tromp, drag oneself, walk heavily, walk slowly, plow, slog and toil. As a noun, it means “a difficult or laborious walk.”
Lately, though, as I have encountered one disappointment after another, I really get why they chose the word trudge: It’s simply because life is not always skipping, and they wanted to acknowledge that fact. They wanted to say — or maybe I just want to hear — that even when you encounter “exhaustion or harsh conditions” during a “difficult or laborious walk,” you’re still on the Road of Happy Destiny, and they (we) are still with you.
And sometimes, that’s about all I have to cling to: some faith that I am still on the path, and I’m not alone. Because lately, I feel like I could look at water, develop hope and expectation it will flow downhill, and then see it fly into the air. My body is failing and costing me money I don’t have, my debt is terrifying, my professional life is falling apart, depression is intense, and loneliness is high. In that context, “trudge” is about all I can do — sometimes more than I can do. Sometimes all I feel like doing is curling up in a ball, or running away, or shutting my whole “career” down and getting a job flipping burgers or something.
So here is how being in recovery helps: First, I recognize these moments, and I remember surviving them them before. Second, I (try to) remember one of my all-time favorite sayings:
Another way that recovery helps at times like this is by giving me little reminders that I am not alone (by far!) and that there are still little things I can do. In this case, they are even things I have written about!
- Accept that sometimes life just isn’t magical
- It’s okay to ask for help
- Do the little things, to develop some momentum
- Go to a meeting.
- Check to see if you are catastrophizing.
- See if you just need to re-think the stories you’re telling yourself.
The mental image I get from all these thoughts and feelings is a guy slowly standing up, gathering his stuff together, throwing it over his shoulder, leaning into the wind and rain, and then … yes, trudging along.
That guy isn’t skipping, he isn’t singing a happy tune, and he may be in a genuine shit-storm. But he’s moving, and whether he remembers it at the moment or not, he isn’t alone. He is with others in the Fellowship of the Spirit on the Road of Happy Destiny.