I didn't get it at first. The whole "it's all about me" thing. The selfishness of my alcoholism. The root of my spiritual malady. Me, what I think. How I put myself at the center of all thought. Self centeredness? Yes. Extreme self centeredness. I would tend to lean toward those who would say I was being too hard on myself. Until I saw myself using that selfish angle too. A victim? Yeah. Feed my self-pity. What an endless stream of attention I could receive when acting as the depressed. Believing myself depressed. Unable to find my way out of myself.
Acting as my own worst enemy was like opening a petcock of attention from others who felt the need to offer suggestion. Hey, act better than me? Smarter? Whatever as long as I'm the center of it all. Bad press is still press.
Like the thief? I steal my emotional security from others or my fancied arrangement of others in my mind. My altered reality. I apply everything I can find in others to crate my self worth. I used to think it was as simple as manipulating others to like me so I could like myself but...It goes much much deeper.
I'm talking professional survivor here. A lifer. Not some light weight no. Every minute of every day I am out to fend for myself and myself only. Harsh? Yes. Very much so. Fortunately for me? Others can see bits of themselves in me so I get away with being considered sick. A sick alcoholic. Rum dumb.
Truth be told? Since my spirit was stolen? I am and have pretty much always been a virus. A predator of the worst kind. I am kind, considerate, modest and self sacrificing on the outside? While mean, selfish, inconsiderate and self-centered on the inside. My outer stage presentation is generally all things to all people. Leader, follower, mirror image, whatever it takes to get my own needs met.
I remember first noticing there may actually be a world or universe outside my thoughts. I was always in some kind of trouble as a kid. Being so self centered I didn't really understand the strings attached to my troubles. How my actions affected others. Controlled them. Dominated them. For instance, my constant upheavals were not leaving any room for my other siblings to secure any emotional security. Me and my front page news all the time stole the show. All eyes on me either through emotional outburst? Or silent treatment. Either way I sucked the emotional security from everyone around me and kept it for myself. I thought I wanted it to all go away, everyone to leave me alone? When maybe that's not so true. Maybe I needed the attention and it didn't really matter how I got it. I began to look at myself, my selfishness and fear as suggested in the 12 Steps. Holy crap! I was a sick one for sure.
Around the mid 80's? I heard of a CODA meeting starting up. CODA. Co-dependents Anonymous. What was this? My Big Book 12 Step friends weren't interested but I was. There was something there. Like the next level of my Big Book Step 12. Or Step 11, growing in understanding and effectiveness. Learning to practice principles. Something about CODA sounded like my experience worshipping people for any level of self esteem in the Big Book teachings. There were definite similarities. I showed up skeptical and remained for the meeting very comfortable. The feeling of emotional security like I belonged, like I felt the last time I came back to AA..
I was co-dependent. Another center piece to the puzzle.. I had a couple years experience at this point with the Big Book 12 Steps so I didn't even care really. I was happy to find this new growth spurt. So now I can get to work on this. Maybe there's hope for intimacy some day? Trust? The L word even? This willingness led me to the next level which was an Adult Child meeting. ACOA. Adult child of alcoholics. The big wake up call. Taking a good hard look at my family dynamic. My environment. Others behavior without all the blame. As if I myself with my 12 Steps had found courage. The strength to go back and look at my life and come back to the present unscathed. People were loosing their power over me. I was getting spiritually stronger. So much so that I tried one on one Adult child counseling for a time. Something that for me? Before my willingness offered on the spiritual path? I would absolutely never attempt. I talk to no one. I tell nobody nothing. If they knew what went on in my head they surely would want nothing to do with me. Now? Willingness? Open mindedness? My life was indeed changing for the better. I was still alone sure but not nearly as afraid. My mind had moments of nothing. A peaceful like feeling I had not known before.
I had been freed from my current bondage which was being labeled a Big Book thumper or to the AA discussion "your problem is only this big" talky crowd? A pariah. The anti-Christ. It was really weird. I thought these people were my friends. By getting into the Big Book 12 Steps I had now become hated. In AA. I didn't understand the sensitivity of others in recovery. I thought hey! Look at this recovery stuff here in the Big Book. While others saw me as a know it all loud mouth pompous ass. I had prayed to be shown the spiritual path and here it was. I thought others would want it too. Willingness and an open mind had brought me to the meaning of my life. Physically I was alone but spiritually I was really on to something and chose this new path over my Big Book pals acceptance of me. Over anybody really..This in itself was huge. My reason and my purpose as I walk the spiritual path suggested in the Big Book 12 Steps. What came next was a real shocker...ALANON.
I can't even remember why or when but at some point I showed up at a large ALANON 12 Step meeting. Curious mostly. I didn't even know they had 12 Step ALANON meetings. I assumed the room filled with older beat up ladies with rapid fire knit one curl two skills knitting baby clothes that become scarves that become afghans over and over. Yes, they were there at the table up front. But there was every other type of person there also. The hall was packed. And me of course. THESE PEOPLE WERE SERIOUS! The meeting was as intense as any hard core Men's Big Book 12 Step meeting which was generally a 10 on the recovery in your face scale. I had no idea others from so many different angles had so many people issues.
By now I'm growing in understanding everyday really. Nobody is making me do anything or even suggesting. I am on my own with the God of my understanding. Each day I begin my one day at a time as suggested in Step 11 "upon awakening" as it's laid out in the Big Book. I am making use of what others find as a part of my recovery. Not because I need to no. Because I want to. I want to be a part of this learning curve, this recovery experience. In truth? I am all in.
Jumping Jehoshaphat! The people I have used in my life. Overwhelming at times for sure. I was a nothing, an empty void of existence. If I had a decent place to live? It was the girlfriend or wife that managed it. Decent set of wheels under me? Someone else's loan or at least cosign. Clothes? Food? Same thing. Other people. Mama save me fix me make me happy. Pathetic really. At my best I could earn plenty of cash and yet only make foolish decisions with it. No wonder they all leave me and take me with them when they go. Leaving me obsessed and afraid as if they had themselves been surgically removed, completely detached... I stand for nothing. Without them I am nothing. Without people to worship for my self worth? My emotional security? I am again lost. Hoping to find a new hope for survival in somebody, anybody. I need identity. To be half of a relationship? She will carry me. Or at least give me a reason to try. An employee? My job will define me, give me validation as a worker. A son? The family will absorb me, I will be safe in their unconditional love. Just like Beaver Cleaver.
It dawned on me one day. I didn't actually need people physically all the time. I could arrange them in my mind for an instant emotional security boost. Yeah! I'll say this and they'll say that and I'll be right and feel good about myself at their expense. They don't even know? They can't possibly see my selfishness oozing out of me so I'll never get caught manipulating them. It's just, I think they think. A telepathic thing with a side of imagination.. I can use this self esteem booster anywhere, anytime with anything. Like an "I know what's best" self esteem boost checklist. Imaginary arguments and debate I always win that make no sense at all.
What better way to feed my ego than with the daily news where it's open season hunting on everybody 24/7..No accountability whatsoever. They're screwed up and I'm ok. They're stupid and I'm smart. They're in trouble and I'm not. The apocalypse is near! What an endless stream of negativity to pick from. Like a addict injecting hopelessness into the world everyday with a dirty needle. The world is a ghetto. Everyone is entitled to hate. Even the weather people are full of crap. It's all bad. But now as I sit in front of the TV. As I start my day with an online media homepage? I'm a martyr and if I can blow myself and some innocent victims up I get what, a black Beemer and 7 virgins is it? Am I the only one who thinks this is a bit odd? I try switching channels to no avail. Today I will face life against the unspeakable. Do I dare even venture outside amidst the protests and shootings. Am I going to run into Braveheart at the 7/11? The opiate epidemic and sexual deviates everywhere? I'm taking political commentary from stage actors? The latest serial bomber took in foster kittens and seemed all right to me? Rich middle aged white men plagued with the stigma of being rich middle aged white men? Gualala Woman gives birth to Easter Bunny in Halloween pumpkin patch: blames global warming? Ok. I'm reaching here.....I mean really now. I pay attention to what I'm eating. What I'm wearing. Why don't I pay attention to what I'm thinking? I'm stuffing my head with that world renowned mystery meat Spam! I'm just a common everyday people worshipper. The codependent's codependent. Market me, manipulate me, abuse me, include me, discard me, force yourself on me, just don't leave me alone with myself.
With the worlds problems in my face everyday I have set the bar quite low. I don't really need to do anything but hide for the day to stay above it. Yes. It hit me hard just how unhealthy I am with regards to people. My obsession with them individually or as a group. My need to have them meet my selfish arrangements for some self worth. I am still extremely co-dependent. I don't want to be this negative? I don't want to hate or fight. The media wants this, I don't. Yet. I go ahead and read the paper anyway looking for a reason to feel the power of selfishness once again. To be afraid. It's as if I miss it. The old me. The people worshipper. I don't know how to let my life be peaceful without some form of acknowledgement. I need some credit for the peace. Just like they used to say around the halls? I can't handle the good just like I can't handle the bad. My life gets good and I am free of my bondage? I sabotage it. I seek the security in the old familiar where I know how to feel when I am suffering. I believe I'm a loser more than I can believe I'm not. I still will jump at the chance to hate myself and feel the comfort there, the pity. Poor me, Poor little Stepsherpa. I thrive on self pity. Nobody loves me and even if the do? It's not enough. I am so empty nothing can fill me up. Nobody can fix me. Being the underdog, the victim. To overcome adversity in my mind, that's where the power is. In my delusion I get all the attention. As if I belong there and this new freedom and happiness offered? This spiritual peace? I am not worthy of it. It's not the real me just a temporary reprieve until the other shoe drops. I wait for it to drop. I will make it drop. No matter how beautiful a day? Stay tuned. Darkness always falls.
Nothing ever works. I'm doomed so, we're all doomed. Or, God Bless Us, every one. Yep..I'm living the "we" life.
People have said I am my own worst enemy. I get it now I think. It's me. I'm the alcoholic. Not them. Their problems are not mine by default. Another failed attempt at camaraderie by comparing myself to them. Assuming the similarities exist. I do what they do I get what they get? Not really. I can never leave well enough alone. I'm selfish. extremely selfish so I do what you do and improve on it so I am better than you at being you, Which is now the new me! I can't assume that by fixing or arranging them to what I feel is best that it will be best. That I will reap the rewards of their gratitude. No, I am not in control of these people. I can't fix what doesn't need fixing. I can't save those who don't need saving. I'm the selfish self-centered survivor, a taker, a thief.. I'm the one who wallows in self-pity as if using a three barbed hook fishing, in hopes catching someone to save me. I have no courage or strength to face life, no coping skills whatsoever really. I truly have become what my father labeled me as from the beginning. I am a failure to society, a failure at life itself and will never amount to anything. My mentor was right. I lived for the better part of my life with no spirit, only people and the bits of their spirit I could steal leaving me fragmented at best..
When a person is discarded like trash is hard to believe, When it's you? It's hard to look at. To accept that people treat each other in such a hurtful way, a selfish way.. Sometimes all they can do is their best to be redeemed somehow. Liked? Accepted? Any bit of self esteem offered and really? Any way they can get it. They would do anything to just be a part of something and not spend another day alone and afraid in their empty void of existence. I found my safety in alcohol. But like everything else I tried to fill myself with? Alcohol was not enough. Alcohol proved to be a symptom of the real issue which was people. Some may say that people are a symptom also but for me? I stopped there. I pounded alcohol until it no longer did the job of shutting me down.
I stopped flirting with the booze when I clearly saw myself for who I was, who I am. As if I finally got one honest answer to all this alcoholism stuff. I am co-dependent. I constantly feel the emotional need to arrange others to somehow suite myself, meet my needs fancied or real. Let me in! Through my arrangements provide for me what I can't provide for myself. Validation, security. A reason for living. Like me so I can like myself as I alone am nothing. Hated by myself and others as I live under constant fear and tension. I have been programmed to believe this.
Preparing each morning for the neverending retaliation I can't possibly deserve as I believe I am doing my best and judge myself by my grand intensions. I just can't see why people treat me so bad... The overwhelming trains of circumstance, memories, nightmares, baring down on me daily of what they think, how they have betrayed me, hurt me, abandoned me. Some reoccurring for my lifetime. The guilt and shame of who I am from what I presume others think of me. I don't even know why? I can't figure out what I did that was so bad. I can't see it is others who lived others lives and I just followed suit by following theirs. I am the people worshiper. An adult child. I began my real journey to emotional recovery at 28 years old when in reality? I was about maybe 7 or 8 going on 14. My father unleashed an extreme rage on me at 4 years old. Punishment for watching another 4 year old girl pee in the bushes. None of us who were there have ever been the same. I had the spirit beat out of me that day. My mother hysterically crying holding my new born sister. It was the worst of the worst for me. Crazy. Right out of his mind. I still have tunnel vision as if I'm there right now. It comes around every few months and hangs for a while..
It's hard to believe someone can be so full of themselves and basically let it all go. Some of us have hard razor sharp issues around abuse. Old wounds are easily reopened around sexual abuse especially. The mention of a name, a movie? Anything. How we are being touched or touching. The lack of emotional involvement. Sometimes we will simply feel the need to seek comfort or power in the familiar by beating ourselves senseless for no apparent reason at all. We just needed to feel.
When our spirits were stolen is when the overwhelming fear set in. We were young generally, we were without defense and completely flattened. With no spirit we had no choice but to rely on the arrangements of people for our emotional survival. And so it begins. We cease to trust, participate, listen. Many of us completely shut down until we find a safe place to come out of hiding. A place where we can be accepted, appreciated, validated, or just plain liked. Many are in jails or taken from society in other forms. Heavy meds, institutions, halfway or three quarter houses masquerading as stepping stones but really? We aren't going anywhere. We are damaged goods. Many will never respond to a sufficient form of normalcy anyway. They will always be a ward of the state in one way or another... Others find a sick security in abusive relationships. Many are in another 3rd or 4th failed relationship or marriages. Many have been unable to develop coping skills necessary to support the needs of our own children. We continue on barely taking care of ourselves. Each day still the fear comes. The horror of failure, the impending doom. Each day we pray for relief. And for those like myself? One day? One day seemingly no different than any other? The relief comes. But can I let it stay?
It's in a form of willingness. A new found courage. For me? A willingness to believe. Now, It could very well come from my point of such desperation and hopelessness that willingness was all I had left. I don't know. I do know it wasn't anything I picked up from people. That was no longer an option. It was me and only me alone. I got on my knees and said to a God if there was a God? I just can't take it anymore. I can't take another step. And so my life began. It took on new meaning, new purpose. Basically? In those few minutes. As I look back on it? I see it for what it was. An event. I had stepped to the spiritual path which even moments before I never believed existed. Now? This new willingness to believe? I really felt like I was going to be ok. There were no people around me, no people on my mind. Nothing to obsess over just me in an abandoned building with my sleeping bag and candle. Some clothes in a hefty bag. I hit or really fell to my knees in surrender. Little did I know that at that point in my life? I was on my way to living a spiritual life. I would be shown the freedom of self, the bondage removed. I would be shown how the drink problem is to be removed. I will pray for direction daily and learn to care enough to care for myself. I will have a life worth living nomatter my circumstance.
Today is good. Oh, I'm not winning any hell of a guy awards but I like who I am today for the most part..I have basically learned to not pick up people and drink them. I have also been divorced from alcohol for half my life, a long time. I don't feel the need to abuse myself. To make myself pay because I'm not good enough. I do my best not to take. I have kept on with the Big Book 12 Steps and with all it has given me the one key to living sober is in the giving. The willingness to give freely. The ability to give without expectation or selfish motive. Be it sponsorship in the Big Book 12 Steps day by day with the new man? Or showing up with an anonymous pile of sandwiches at a down trodden AA meeting..Actually last night I got this idea to grab a pile of stuffed Easter Bunnies from the dollar store and drop them at the nursing home. They're surprisingly nice for dollar store basics. Could be a good thing? Anyway..
This willingness I believe is offered as a gift on the spiritual path. Who I give to or why isn't important really. It's more about the fact that I am doing it. I want to give and want nothing in return. It takes work sometimes. I have not mastered it. There are times when I see my subtle selfishness show itself but it's ok. It's ok because I can see it. I can recognize it and change it. I have the power to correct myself today. I can change.
Be good to yourself that others may benefit. Share as if others share with you even if they don't. There will be no axes to grind, no people to please. Today is your day to give the gift of willingness.