I worry sometimes that someone might stumble upon one of my posts and get the mistaken idea that arriving at the place in time where understanding how one “works” is rare or unattainable. If I could do it, it isn’t rocket science. I am, after all, simply an estimator.
The other side of that coin is that someone could happen upon one of my posts and flip what I wrote into a negative because they haven’t been able to arrive at my happy place in life on their own. The chance of this arose in a comment on one of my recent posts and though I didn’t really pursue it, it inspired this post.
Here’s the trick to being me: I’ve had a lot of help and it has to do with two aspects of recovery.
First, I was, am and will remain committed to being humble and teachable. I have no desire to be a know-it-all. The suppression of the ego to keep it from getting in the way of potential is a matter of choosing to be exposed. In my case it was simply self preservation; the risk of exposure was worth getting sobriety the first time without relapse. Once I learned how to pick those I could trust, it was simply a matter of expanding that same self-preservation beyond recovery to the rest of life.
Second, the nature of recovery is not selfish. My friends and sponsors who came before me, while having the goal of staying sober themselves, were also devoted as a part of their recovery, to share their experience, strength and hope with those who came after that they could have the opportunity to do even better. This “sharing” of the lifestyle not only benefits the noob, it also benefits the mentor by passing the tradition on. One way or another we’re all a part of something greater than the individual.
To sweeten that pot even further, recovery is all about attraction in lieu of promotion. It becomes our nature to seek not only to be renewed, decent human beings but to go beyond and seek those members out who can teach us to rise above the crowd and help others to feel good about themselves.
I had a sponsor like this for a few years (Mike was stricken with cancer and died a few years ago). His disposition was such that I felt instantly better about being me, simply by hanging out with him. His quality has inspired me to do the best I could to be like him, solely so I can be that guy for others. Not so I can feel good about me, but so others can feel good about themselves. This is a delicate balance of course. Mike was no softie, but he was tough in such a good and supportive way that I wanted to do the next right thing for me… It’s hard to describe this in writing because part of this was in me, but part of it, indubitably, came from Mike.
I’ve had more than twenty years, from when I was still a kid, immersed in a society that seeks not only singular greatness but the betterment of the society as a whole – with no need for coercion, a hierarchy, leadership or even formal organization. All it takes is a couple of drunks, a coffee pot and a little desire to be better people. From there it simply grows on its own awesomeness. In those twenty years I’ve simply sought to save my bacon and become good enough to attract others so that I can help them save theirs.
Transforming oneself from a self-centered punk to a decent citizen and member of society has been very tough. Self-serving, obnoxious, pampas and ego-centric are all easy. It is not easy to be me, or like me. It took a lot of hard work, a lot of help and a tremendous desire to understand exactly what the fuck is wrong with me – not later, not when I have time to get to it, but right freaking now. All of the goodness in my life depends on it because I know exactly the depravity I am capable of. Been there.
This post was written for one reason: To add a little context to what it took to make me, me.