The reason this post came together today is because I had a meeting with a friend this morning along with a bunch of other people. We then had another meeting with a different group of people scheduled for later in the afternoon. Now I could have hung out in a coffee shop waiting for the second meeting but I asked my friend what he was going to do and he said "catch an AA meeting". I knew he had been clean and sober for nearly 20 years but he does still like to catch a meeting every now and then and there just so happened to be one down the street from where the events we were attending were happening. Being curious and always up to learn something new, I tagged along with him. Although I don't drink, I wanted to see why AA has become known world-wide for helping people recover from alcoholism. It turned out to be a really good, positive learning experience. In regards to preparedness, here's what I learned:
- Until you stop blaming others and take responsibility for yourself, things aren't going to change. If you want to see a positive change, you need to be the positive change. It is easy to point fingers after a disaster but that doesn't accomplish much; you need to pick up yourself, and pick up the pieces, and move forward.
- Once you realize you have a problem of any sort, you need to take steps to fix the problem. Other people can't fix your problems, only you can do that. There is help available if you seek it out. The corollary is that you can't make other people change whether it is in their best interest or not. You can lead by example and offer help when asked but mostly you go about your business, take care of yourself, and let others take care of themselves.
- If you have a major problem such as addiction, not a whole lot matters besides getting your next drink, hit, shopping spree, etc. Somewhere after that on the priority list comes work, kids, spouse, etc. Things such as planning for your future, making sure you can take care of yourself before, during, and after a disaster, and teaching the family preparedness skills probably won't even be a blip on the priority screen. Therefore, getting the problem under control is the first step in moving towards being able to take better care of yourself and your family.
- Take things one day at a time. Yes a tornado just wiped away your house, the cows have all run off, and your place of business no longer exists either. You can look at the big picture and feel so overwhelmed that you give up or you can take today and do the best you can with it then do the same tomorrow and the next day and the next.
- People are generally very supportive of others. The group today was so nice, understanding, and supportive that even I wanted to come back! A lot of times people feel alone, alienated, and adrift (this can happen on a good day, imagine how people feel after a disaster has just turned their life upside down). I think it is human nature that the majority of people you come in contact with will be helpful and supportive--good to know after a disaster.
- You can fall off track but it is always possible to get back on track. This happens often during addiction recovery, and it happens often in life. For example, I know it is important to be physically fit so I try to walk, jog, or run at least five miles each day. With my crazy schedule, I usually accomplish this goal but not always. For a long time, I would try to meet this goal, not be able to follow through because of a really hectic week, then figure it was useless to try so I would quit all together. Now, I aim for five miles a day but if I can only do one quick mile on the treadmill, that is OK too and I just try again the next day. Making a tiny bit of progress is better than making no progress at all.
OK, I'll hop off the soap box now. If you take anything away from this post, it should be that the opportunity to learn new things can come in a variety of ways, that if you have a problem that is holding you back try to fix it so you can move forward, and that judging other people or being harsh with them is a waste of time--better to spend the time focusing on yourself and your goals.