Exchanging self-hatred for joy

 I've found the joy of sobriety difficult to communicate.  Maybe I should work on that, since "If newcomers could see no joy or fun in our existence, they wouldn't want it" (AA 132).  I'll relate one thing that might express what my new life in sobriety is like.

An SA related discussion gave me the idea of putting a scoop of birdseed in a jar for every SA phone call I make (and two scoops for calling my parents, which is even harder).  When the jar gets full, I scatter it outside my window.

In the first few days, a few sparrows came by, then some doves.  I added a feeder, then two more.  It's months of phone calls later and the yard outside my window is filled with life.  Goldfinches, red birds, indigo blue birds, gray, black and brown birds, baby birds trying to balance on the fence, cardinals wooing their ladies, a merry scene of chirping, cooing, and singing.  This is happening because of my recovery, and before the closest I came to wildlife was fried chicken.  Apparently it's helped a few of the guys I've called too.  Some have told me that I called them at the exact moment they were contemplating acting out.  They don't know (and don't tell them) that my main reason for calling was to give an extra scoop of sunflower seeds to some finches.

Through the SA Buddy List, I've talked to guys in England, India, Slovenia, Iran, Israel and Russia.  I know a guy who came to my SA home group a year ago - sullen, dead-eyed, monosyllabic and friendless.  Now he's blossomed into a spry, happy, outgoing guy who is the life of the meeting.  When I recall that small actions of mine (being the literature guy who provided the books, the keyholder who opened the meeting) have something to do with that, it brings me joy.  I get to experience that over and over in SA.

And life is still hard.  This week, I'm facing continuing battles with finances, overeating, anger, fear, and depression.  Sometimes the joy is in recognizing what I'm not dealing with anymore.  If I had to sum up my acting out life in a word, I'd say "self-hatred."  It's been two years since I hated myself.