Posted in Recovery, Today's File

Sailor’s Knot, Compass Rose

Compass-Rose tattoo with the A.A. symbol at its center...

Whenever I’m grappling with a difficult decision, my A.A. Sponsor asks me, “What does your gut tell you?”  Usually I already know what course of action my “gut” is pointing me toward, but those instincts tend to solidify when she verbalizes them.  “Listen to your gut–that’s God talking,” she tells me.  Oh great…God talks to me through my stomach?

Well okay, there’s a literal physical truth to it… that clenched-up anxiety-knot in my gut can certainly signal what I shouldn’t do.  I realize now that almost every time I took a drink of alcohol (or wanted to) my immediate aim was to loosen that gut-knot which so often took up residence a few inches below my heart.  I realize, too, that I was literally drowning God’s voice in my life every time I took a drink.

That knot in my gut is part of my Compass now (and, I should add, appears with less frequency than it did in my drinking days).  When a choice confronts me, it can be an indicator of what path is the right one for me to take; and it can be a reminder–when something isn’t mine to decide or control–to take a breath and a prayer and give it up to God.

Interestingly enough, knocking out a knot with Surrender is a more lasting solution than any of my attempts at dissolving it with an alcohol solvent.  Evidently it’s a true sailor’s knot, entirely impervious to immersion.  When the liquor drained away into a hangover, the soaked and swollen knot would only be the tighter. You’d think this Sailboat Skipper would have figured that out more quickly…  But that’s Addiction for you.


I am... a writer, an explorer, a coffee-drinker, a recovering addict, a barefoot linguist, a book-dragon ("bookworm" doesn't cover it), a raconteur, a sailboat skipper, a research diver, a tattooed scholar, a pirate, a poet, a spiritual adventurer, a photographer, a few kinds-of-crazy, a joyful wife, a mom... a list-maker! :)

21 thoughts on “Sailor’s Knot, Compass Rose

  1. Jim told me many years ago. Based on who and what you are your first instinct should be subjected to intense scrutiny. At least until you have a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps. After that you can just run it past God. He’ll let you know.


    1. He DOES, doesn’t he? Though I’m still grateful for my Sponsor as a sounding-board as well… I’m pretty sure her voice is another way God chats with me. ;)


  2. What a great post, Kana! My therapist is always telling me that our subconscious minds are way smarter than our conscious minds, we just have to listen.

    Love your stories about what your tattoos mean – they’re wonderful.


  3. I love your openess. You are truly a WISE woman.

    We should all follow our gut we forget to since we’re not paying attention. Excuse? Running in six different directions at once but not aware of any of them really.

    This was ANOTHER great post.


  4. “When a choice confronts me, it can be an indicator of what path is the right one for me to take”
    many times we have to decide which is the correct path to follow, and most of times the correct one is not the easiest. And the “indicator” can help us in deciding. Great post from you, thanks.


  5. I wonder if your addiction then, helped you to hone your ‘gut’ instincts. I seem to have a complete inability to have instincts about things! People, situations etc. I get it wrong almost every time and my constant complaint to hubby is that “I didn’t get any kid of bad vibe or feeling, how did I not know, see, guess etc etc. Perhaps your addictive past has given you clarity on the feelings for a more positive future? Just a thought!


    1. You are SO right. (“Observant Mind” indeed!) When I was new in the rooms of A.A. and heard people say they were grateful to be alcoholics, I thought they just meant they were glad they got sober. I’ve come to understand, though, that alcoholism (for those fortunate enough to find their way into Recovery) is a blessing, counterintuitive as it may seem… A.A. is so much more than “a way to stop drinking”–it’s an entire way of life which we wouldn’t have found without our addictions, and for which we’re grateful. :)


      1. Isn’t it true of all stumbling blocks in our lives? If we learn from them we are blessed. If we don’t learn, they just lead us down another path until we learn. Love your honesty and way of expressing yourself.


  6. “No matter which direction you take from now on, nothing you’ve done was wasted. Every path you’ve chosen until now, even the ‘mistakes,’ will be so useful in the future that one day it will almost look like directed research.” That comes from the book It’s Only Too Late if You Don’t Start Now by Barbara Sher, but isn’t it just like something God would say?


  7. Beautifully spoken, Kana! I think the guilt that comes after having something unhealthy (be it alcohol, food, or other) is far worse. When I eat candy that I shouldn’t have had, it makes me feel worse. Then I want a little more to comfort myself, etc. What I REALLY want is to be healthy, but I have to let that knot loosen. Thank you for relating your experiences so honestly.


  8. Kana, SO pleased you are addicted to the mellowing out of the Holy Spirit these days! He knows exactly at which split moment to pull which thread to unwind that knot and lead you along the right path! THAT “rose” is always sweet, no matter the “name”!


  9. I don’t know if I’ve ever commented on one of your posts before, Kana, because your words always leave me completely blown away. You have such a sharp mind and such a gift with words.


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