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Training Day - by Michael Hornbuckle

Updated: Feb 18, 2020

I got to keep movin', I've got to keep movin' Blues fallin' down like hail, blues fallin' down like hail Mm mm mm, blues fallin' down like hail, blues fallin' down like hail And the days keeps on worryin' me of a hellhound on my trail Hellhound on my trail, hellhound on my trail

-Robert Johnson

Hellhound On My Trail

In recovery, everyday should be training day. When "life" happens, good or bad, am I prepared? Do I still have a "Why me, God?' mentality? Or have I acquired the necessary tools it requires to walk in this big bad ol' world without a self-destructive vice? Have I put the tools into practice on a daily basis, so, when it comes time to execute them (when it truly matters), I suit up and show up to meet it with courage, and a resolve that says, "Try me, God!"? What does my self-talk sound like? Is it full of fear and dead on arrival? Or is it silently reassuring based on the work I've put in? When I fall ill or someone I love falls ill, or someone dies, or I lose my job, or I get a hangnail, do I bitch-up or do I say, "I'm ready. This is what I train for" ?

I have to constantly gauge where I'm at with these questions so I can progress. In recovery we're either working on a relapse or we're working on recovery.

There are people in recovery that give lots of attention and concern to their feelings. That's fine. That's necessary for many of us. It was for me at one point. Not today. I thought I had to get in touch with my inner child. Nope. I needed to get in touch with my sponsor. Most of what I do is contrary action. Meaning I make most of my decisions despite how I feel. My feelings seem to reveal that they are real but not reality, therefor I don't waste my time by giving them any more attention than they deserve. (There is a time and place for that type of reflection) I use my feelings. I use them in determining which principle in my tool bag I'm going to reach for. That's it.

If I'm training for anything, my goal is to strengthen something that's in need of a different or better result. And as with anything in life worth having it takes work. Work to get and work to keep. In recovery, in order to change, I need principles that don't. Whatever program of action I've decided on, I MUST obtain them. Timeless principles. And I MUST maintain them through daily practice in all my encounters as best I can. What does that mean?

There are countless examples I could give, but I'll just share one that comes to mind.

I won't get off on a religious tangent, but I often refer to the Prayer of Saint Francis for guidance. The first time I remember being approached with it I was in L.A., new in recovery. I shared at a gathering that back in Denver my Mom had just been given a diagnosis after a lump was found. I don't remember being overly emotional or impulsive but I'm very close with my Mom so it hurt that I wasn't with her. One of the men with long term recovery made a point to take me for a drive after the meeting and read me the prayer of Saint Francis.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me bring love. Where there is offense, let me bring pardon. Where there is discord, let me bring union. Where there is error, let me bring truth. Where there is doubt, let me bring faith. Where there is despair, let me bring hope. Where there is darkness, let me bring your light. Where there is sadness, let me bring joy. O Master, let me not seek as much to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love, for it is in giving that one receives, it is in self-forgetting that one finds, it is in pardoning that one is pardoned, it is in dying that one is raised to eternal life.

We sat silently for a few, and then he asked, "What are you going to do?" I was in the midst of going through the steps and just beginning to learn about principles and how to apply them to my life so I seemed to be able to listen and receive this prayer easily. It resonated. I'd been applying many principles already by virtue of me taking responsibility for my affliction and participating in my own personal recovery. Each line in that prayer seemed to convey a request for direction to embodying: Forgiveness, Faith, Courage, Acceptance, Honesty, Humility, Hope, Restitution, Integrity, Awareness, Discipline, Service, Love, etc. All these and more were depleted from years of being in survival mode. I told him I was going to follow through and stay in L.A. and recover. And I did. In that simple decision, I was practicing all the aforementioned principles with myself and my Mom. I called her and had a wonderful conversation. She's tough as nails, but I was able to be there for her from a distance and actually have an exchange that wasn't all about me. I was present with a calm resolve and she felt that. Something was changing in me through practice. Simple.

Since then I've been presented with many more situations that required the same approach more-less. Sometimes the challenge has been how to handle the good stuff. They say the only thing worse for an alcoholic than bad luck is good luck. I don't know. Maybe at times. I try to stay "in-tune" with life through a constant practice of these "notes" It doesn't matter how good I can play an instrument, if that thing is way out of tune when the song hits, I become a problem. Thank you for reading. How do you stay fit and meet your challenges? Please feel free to share. If not, that's cool too.

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