Promises, Promises

promises ave and realiry way

A promise kept is a healthy, living thing. A broken promise lives in the land of the dead.

Wikipedia explains a “promise” to be: commitment by someone to do or not do something. As a noun promise means a declaration assuring that one will or will not do something. As a verb it means to commit oneself by a promise to do or give.

Unfortunately I learned about promises as a child from parents and adults who made them easily and broke them with even less thought. The flimsy guarantees behind what the grownups pledged taught me it was ‘normal’ to make and break my word in romantic relationships.

Is this what sadness is all about? Is it what comes over us when beautiful memories shatter in hindsight because the remembered happiness fed not just on actual circumstances but on a promise that was not kept? Bernhard Schlink

After I point I can’t blame childhood caregivers at all. It’s my belief we can only hold our parents responsible into our 20’s at the latest for bad habits and behaviors they taught us by example. After that age being an ‘adult trainee’ should be over and the fiber of one’s character should become choice rather than conditioning. I was a slow learner.

Some of my usual behavior looks to be anything but admirable in hindsight. It took time, but the difference between habit and what is honorable slowly came into focus. My childhood conditioning fostered many of my typical practices that were in fact dysfunctional. Just because I do something with regularity does not make it good. A habit is just a habit.

As a fully grown man, cultivating healthy habits and behaviors was not an easy process. It was a bit like preparing overgrown land for growing crops. First what is already growing had to be cut back or removed. The rocks and roots had to be cleared from the soil before successful planting. Likewise, my first task was recognizing the unwanted and unhealthy tendencies that had grown with in me. Afterwards the clearing out of “rocks and roots” could begin. Only when those two steps were practiced could I successfully plant and nurture new ways of behaving.

Words can be twisted into any shape. Promises can be made to lull the heart and seduce the soul. In the final analysis, words mean nothing. They are labels we give things in an effort to wrap our puny little brains around their underlying natures, when ninety-nine percent of the time the totality of the reality is an entirely different beast. The wisest man is the silent one. Examine his actions. Judge him by them. Karen Marie Moning

On my left upper arm is a tribal tattoo that means “honor”. At the time it was created I did not yet fully deserve it. It was something for me to grow into. While imperfect, today I endeavor every day to deserve the symbol permanently etched on my arm. I’m grateful for each bump in the road that taught me, every peer in recovery who listened without judgment and to my Higher Power who has made possible that which I could not do alone.

I  know it is a bad thing to break a promise,
but I think now that it is a worse thing
to let a promise break you.
Jennifer Donnelly