When I came into recovery I was told to keep an open mind. I was told that my best thinking had led me to the meeting rooms so maybe my thinking wasn’t the best at that moment. Perhaps I had better start listening instead of thinking.
At first I thought, I’m educated. Twelve steps? I can whip through those in a few weeks and be on my way. Higher Power? I’ll choose universal energy, it’s much better than the traditional ideas I grew up with. Make amends? No problem. I just won’t include a few people on the list. I wasn’t living in my car. I didn’t drink Listerine. I wasn’t pushing a shopping cart through town. I wasn’t like ‘you people’ who really needed the program. I just needed a bit of help to get me stopped then I would be fine.
I had the idea that I was somehow ‘better’ than the other people around me. I had so many reasons why I was different from the others in the room. My situation was ‘special’. I had a set of challenges that no one else had. I heard my sponsor tell me that I was suffering from something very common in the rooms: Terminal Uniqueness. I was so special, living in conditions so different and in a world so ‘unique’ that it was slowly killing me, just like any other ‘terminal’ illness does. But I didn’t get it right away.
Slowly I learned to identify with everyone in the room and stop comparing myself to them. I learned that I had plenty in common with the woman who had lost custody of her children and the guy living at the mission. I began to see that their struggles were my struggles, and their triumphs were my triumphs. Once I pulled my head out of my, um, the sand, and I let go of the idea that I was different, things began to change. I started to feel I was a ‘part of’ and not ‘separate from’.
Throughout our literature I’ve read about how my Ego is at the root of my problem. My ego tells me I’m different, unique, separate and alone. Ego says I am far above or far below anyone else. It Ego that tells me that I ‘deserve’ this and that if you have something, I should have it too. What I didn’t realize when I arrived was that Ego was robbing me of the most important thing in life: connection.
Slowly I have reconnected with others in recovery, my family, friends, a Higher Power and myself. I am no longer alone as I walk this path of life. I thought that I was alone, but I never was. I thought I was different but I discovered many more similarities. I thought I wanted your possessions but I found that I already had abundance. Ego needed to be tamed, humbled, brought down to its right size. Slowly my thinking is turning around and it all started because I started to open my mind and listen.
I am grateful.