How my ego likes to tell me that the things I do are justified. It’s a tit-for-tat world so if you did that to me, then I will retaliate. Of course, I’m a master at being passive aggressive, so you may not know I have ‘got you back’, but I’ll know. I’ll make you pay! You can’t do that to me! I have my pride and I will not take this sitting down!
Wow. I may not have put those words together in my head but that is the gist of what I often feel when I believe that I had been wronged. I have read in our recovery literature that whenever I am disturbed by something that happened to me, I need to look at my part in the matter and at my response to the other person involved.
I remember hearing a fellow talk at a meeting about holding a resentment for many years against a fellow in the program to whom he had lent $30,000. The man didn’t make payments, and as time went on it became apparent that he would probably never have the means to pay back the money. The fellow went on to say that he had to look at what ‘his part’ was in this situation because it was eating him up inside. He felt anger and resentment every time he saw the other fellow. He had basically given it up as a bad investment, but he still carried a deep grudge against the fellow. What was his part?
” I lent him the money,” he said. “I knew when I handed him the cheque that he had a history of bad debt, that his track record in business, even in sobriety was shaky, but I lent it to him anyway.” Once he saw his own part in the arrangement, he was able to let go of his resentment. He had made a big error in judgement by making the loan. He was honest enough to admit that he probably won’t ever be a good friend of this fellow again, but he could forgive the other guy and forgiven himself. And he no longer avoids him or refuses to say hello to him at meetings.
In my recovery things will happen that will disturb me, upset me, bother me. My program tells me, by using Step 10 and Step 11 to look at the situation in a way that I see the real ‘why’ I feel the way I do. For the fellow above it was a deep hit to his pride and ego to admit that he had made an mistake. I have to put pride and ego aside as well. Like the childhood saying that says when I point my finger at you there are three pointing back at me I need to shift the focus of my disturbance onto me. I am involved in every interaction with others. Admitting my part in it is a big step in my liberation from the poison of anger and resentment.
To my friends who follow my blog: www.recoveryriver.org A couple of months ago Facebook changed its policy and the blog doesn’t automatically post to Facebook anymore. I invite you to click on the “Follow” button. That way you will receive an email with every one of the blog posts.
I’ve spent the last five days battling a tropical cold-flu combination that really kicked my ass. I’m on the mend now, but I know I still have to nurse myself back to health. I’ve slept more and seen more Netflix than I really wanted to this week. Those things I was planning on doing, well, they either went on or didn’t without me. Today I am going to venture out of the cocoon for a short bit and return home to relax. I’m not going to push myself. I’m not 25 and I don’t bounce back as quickly as I used to.
The experience of this week has reminded me that I still have to take care of my physical self. I’m not superman, and even he had his kryptonite. It’s a reminder as well that what happens in the body affect the mind and visa versa. And a reminder of something I learned in the rooms early on: H.A.L.T. Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired.
Whenever I am stretched out in some way, emotionally, physically or spiritually, whenever I am off balance, that is when I have a greater chance of succumbing to a disease be it addiction or another disease such as the flu or cold. I’ve come to see over the years that there’s a very strong mind-body-spirit connection and what happens in one area affects all other areas. I’ve also come to believe that when I am stuck in bed it’s a good time for me to reflect on what is out of balance in my life and make the necessary changes to get myself back into balance.
Soon, I know, I will be back to my normal self, going about my daily chores and routines. I know it will be easy to slip back into the patterns that can lead me right back to where disease can take over again. In order to take care of my physical body I need to take care of it by getting enough rest, eating a balanced diet, and not letting my emotions run the show. H.A.L.T. reminds me that it’s easy to get myself off track and that it’s just as easy to get back on the path.
My spiritual, mental and physical health all require balance. A violin string that is too loose doesn’t sound, if it is wound too tight, it breaks, but when it is in balance, it creates the sweetest sounds. And like the violinist checking if he’s in tune, I must check to see that there’s balance in all aspects of my life. If I want to keep on track in my heath and in my recovery, I can’t take it for granted that ‘I’m okay’, I have to work at it constantly.
A former sponsor of mine used to say, “I’m as sick as my secrets.” It took me a long time to really understand what he meant and after a few years in recovery, I think I have a better handle on it. We all have some secrets and they have the power to lead us deeper into darkness.
The secret of my sexuality kept me from living a full and healthy life before I emerged from my closet. ‘What if they find out? What will they think? I have to be careful so that no one will find out.’ These thoughts were constantly with me. It lead to a distrust of others. It kept me isolated, alone and lonely. The only time I felt that I could be released from my secret, earlier on, was when I was high. The rules and norms of society be damned. When I was high I didn’t care what anyone really thought.
Of course, the next morning arrived and along with the spitting headache I had the moral hangover of regret. Over the years, my secrets changed and varied, but they were always there, guarded and hidden. I wouldn’t say I was dishonest and openly lying, only that I wouldn’t disclose my real truth about what I felt or thought about situations. I rationalized that what I really wanted and how I really felt were best left unsaid. I didn’t want to cause pain in others but was unable to see the pain I was causing in myself because I wouldn’t open up. I felt it was better to keep that inside.
I kept my secrets bottled up so that everyone would like me and so that they wouldn’t feel hurt. I wasn’t able to see that they were making me sink deeper and deeper into addiction. My thinking was inverted: I didn’t want to cause you any pain, but it was okay to cause my own and for me to suffer in silence. And my ‘suffering’ was always a good reason to self medicate.
Through the program of recovery I am able to see that my ‘suffering in silence’ was an ego trip, as if my suffering would save the rest of the world. It was all about me and all about my justification for loading up. In the process of Step Five, sharing my past and the ‘exact nature’ of my character with another person, I was sharing my secrets. And a funny thing about a secret: once it is told to another person, it’s no longer a secret.
I didn’t realize how much energy I was using to keep my past thoughts, feelings and actions hidden until I stopped. Going through Step Five, sharing with another person helped me to open up to another person and prepared me for Step Nine where I made amends to those I had harmed. My program of recovery helps me to recognize when I am falling into the same patterns creating little secrets by hiding my feelings and thoughts and to know when I need to talk to my sponsor again about these things. I know that keeping things bottled up inside will lead to resentment, anger, fear and a relapse. The sooner I disclose my secrets, the sooner I return to health.
Thank you Marshall.