Pleasing Me

My name is Tim and I am a people pleaser. I think I always have been. I want people to be happy. I want them to enjoy themselves. I don’t want the to have bad experiences and I want to help them avoid any type of unpleasantness.  For years I ran a small B&B and made sure that my guests were ‘happy’. I catered to their needs, indulged their whims, offered advice and went out of my way to make sure that they had a pleasant stay and a nice time in my town. That was my job. I enjoyed it and rightly so, people were paying for that service.

However, I suffer from the disease of more. I thought that without me, they couldn’t have a good vacation in my town. And of course, I didn’t stop with just guests. I was like this with everyone. I didn’t express how I was feeling.  I did ‘favours’ for folks when it really wasn’t convenient. My needs were set aside for the needs of others. I felt that your needs, feelings were more important than mine. I believed it was the right thing to do: suppress my needs because that was the ‘Christian’ thing to do, the ‘human’ thing to do. If I didn’t, what would people think about me? What would they say about me? I was always the nice, polite guy who went along with everyone and everything. Problem was, I still had my needs and desires. They became distorted by neglect and gave me one more excuse to indulge in my addiction. And I started to believe that I didn’t matter and neither did my needs, or wishes. I believed ‘Love thy neighbour, but deny thy self.’

‘What others think about me is none of my business!’

How difficult it was when I first arrived to hear and accept this radical idea, Wow, that was not how I was wired. I thought that it was my business, my only business. What will the neighbours think? What will the family think? What will my friends think? Those were the questions I worked with. What does Tim think? That didn’t matter all that much.

Through working the steps I learned that I do matter and that what I think is important and that I have self esteem, I value, I’m worth it. One of the ways I made that change in thinking is by ignoring what others ‘might’ be thinking about me, because there really was no way of knowing. As well, someone pointed out, other folks aren’t thinking about me, they are mostly thinking about what still others think about them. Finally, I was told that this attitude was an Ego trip.  I was doing it all for me, in a obtuse way, so that everyone would like me. I wasn’t doing it for you, I was doing it for me!!!!  Pow! Right in the kisser!!!!

“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” Dr. Seuss

It is difficult to climb down off this steep mountain of Ego. I’m learning to accept who I am with my faults and my merits. I am learning that while I am not “everything and a piece of cake”, I have value and so do my thoughts and ideas. I share my ideas. I try new things. I help out others, but not at my expense, and not just so that they will like me.  Well, okay, I’m working at it. Sometime quickly, sometimes slowly, as we hear in meetings. I work things out with me, my Higher Power and my sponsor and if others think that it is a good idea, great. If not, well, I’m learning to deal with that too.

I can’t please everyone every time and I don’t want to. I can do things that I know I need or want to do. I have no desire to be a bull in a china shop, but I will no longer stand aside and let the world trample on me because of what it ‘might’ be thinking about me. The happiness of the world doesn’t depend upon me. My happiness does. When I’m happy, I have a different perspective on the world out there and it makes my world in here a whole lot brighter! I’m working on it.

♥  ♥  ♥

Please like and share this blog, not to stroke my ego, but for those who need the courage, strength and hope to start and continue their journey down Recovery River. I would appreciate it if you would sign up and follow as well.  My intention is to post Mondays and Thursdays.   Please comment and offer suggestions.  I’d love to hear from you.

Peace

When We Were Wrong

There’s no shame or harm in changing your direction. In fact, it’s often absolutely necessary if we are to survive and remain sane! Isn’t that what we are praying for in the Serenity Prayer: courage to change the things I can? Whether it is a minor course correction or a major shift in my life direction, I need to step out of my comfort zone and make those changes. If I am to be happy, joyous and free, then I must be willing to change and do what I must as I trudge the road of happy destiny.

I read a few days ago again that an airplane is off course 90% of the time. Wind is constantly blowing that metal tube about, shifting it’s position. There are often cloud banks and storms the the pilot can avoid by navigating around them. The pilot or autopilot is constantly making subtle changes in order to keep the airplane safe and to bring it back on course to its destination. And though it may seem a miracle, it lands on time and where it was supposed to land.

It’s not a miracle, not really. It’s a result of the constant attention of the flight crew. Those constant course corrections nudge the plane back on course. A constant check to see where it is headed. That’s what Step 10 is all about: course correction. “Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.” This is our regular measure of where we are and where we are headed.

Especially early on in the program, it is so easy to stray in our thinking. Everything is new: sobriety, sharing, slogans, steps and sponsors are part of a whole new vocabulary in our lives. It seems there is so much to learn and at the same time so much to forget.  The good news for newcomers, as I was told early on, is that you can start to practice any step that has a “1” in it right from the beginning, so steps 10, 11 and 12 can be worked while you’re still on the first step.

It need not be complicated, and you probably already do it to some degree.  At some point in the evening we can go over the day and pick out what went well, and what didn’t.  If we need to, we can talk to our sponsor about it. It may well be that we had acted like a jerk to a friend or coworker and tomorrow we can apologize.  No need to take on the sins of the world here, just a simple, “I’m sorry, I acted like a jerk yesterday.” is all that is needed.  It doesn’t even matter whether the apology is accepted, because forgiveness is not the goal, clearing our conscience is! Keeping our own side of the street clean early in sobriety is a good way to practice the program principles. It helps to keep us true to this new direction we are headed.

And to be honest, even after years of sobriety, a slight variation in thinking can gradually lead to bad decisions that lead back to the bottle, the pipe and the syringe. Meeting rooms are full of people who were absolutely certain they “had” the program before and suddenly they found themselves back where they started, even after more than ten or twenty years sometimes. A spot check inventory helps to keep us in touch with ourselves, our program and our Higher Power. Like any other terminal condition, I must take my medicine which is the practice and the living of all of the 12 steps of our program, every day. I can’t let up; there is no “free” day here.  It’s one day at a time, one day, everyday.

♥  ♥  ♥

Please like and share this blog, not to stroke my ego, but for those who need the courage, strength and hope to start and continue their journey down Recovery River. I would appreciate it if you would sign up and follow as well.  My intention is to post Mondays and Thursdays.   Please comment and offer suggestions.  I’d love to hear from you.

Peace

 

New Beginnings

In this area, like many other places, when there’s a newcomer or someone returning to the fellowship, we talk about Step One. “We admitted that we were powerless over our addiction and that our lives had become unmanageable.” We also talk about the Third Tradition. “The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop using.” The last three meetings I attended have welcomed new people.  Is my Higher Power trying to tell me something?

To be perfectly honest, I didn’t want to quit when I arrived at my first meeting. I had no desire to stop using. I had a desire for the craziness to stop. I wanted the circus in my head to pull up stakes and move on. I wanted to feel better and stop feeling depressed. The feelings of despair were so overwhelming that I wanted them to stop, but I didn’t want to admit that my consumption was the problem. I thought you could perhaps teach me to control my use so that I could enjoy life. Once I got my life organized again, then I could drink and use like a normal human being.

Hmmm.  Didn’t quite work out the way I thought.

I really wasn’t sure what would happen when I walked into the room that first time. But I was welcomed, recognized a couple of people I knew and sat down. Almost immediately I heard other people sharing their story and it was my story.  I could relate to the insanity of it all. I heard them speak of the shame they felt, their despair, fear and confusion while they were still drinking and using. They told me something that I never knew.  It’s the first drink that got me drunk, not the eighth or tenth.  How many times did I tell myself that I was only going to have one or two and find myself falling off of the barstool asking myself what happened.  I thought, ‘One can’t hurt’, and came to the next morning unsure of how I ended up lying on the porch.  As one member said, ‘It’s not the caboose that kills you, it’s the engine!’ Once it was in me, I lost all my resolve and all bets were off.  I had to admit, that I never just had one of anything.

Sheepishly, slowly, I had to admit that perhaps my use was at least part of my problem. Slowly, with time, I realized that I was powerless over my addiction. I saw that I spent most of my time getting high, recovering from it, or planning my next one. I might still have had a roof over my head and food in the fridge, but it wasn’t me who was managing my life, my addiction was. Most importantly, I learned that I couldn’t solve my problems with the same thinking that caused them. Something had to change.

Something did change: I stopped thinking and starting listening. I had to admit that the folks around the table had something that I wanted.  They were happy, laughing and friendly.  It didn’t take long before I dropped the pretense that I could control my use.  One minute at a time, one hour at a time and then one day at a time. I could stop for the moment, this minute or this hour. Gradually the hours added up to a day and then the days to a week and so on.

I can’t take my sobriety for granted. I know that I am a few bad decisions away from losing it. The elevator of my disease is waiting with the door open, ready to take me down deeper. And there’s no guarantee that I will make it back. Like the diabetic taking insulin, I must follow the program on a daily basis to ensure my sobriety. I am a beginner every day.

Beginner meetings remind me how far I have come in sobriety.  They remind me of what it was like and could be again. Working with a new member helps to keep it fresh. I am grateful to those who took the time to pass the message onto me and in my gratitude, I pass that message to others. What’s my Higher Power telling me? Keep coming back. Keep working the program. I can’t know what will coming around the corner in my life, but whatever it is, I know that keeping close to the program will allow me to handle life as it comes.  I am grateful.

♥  ♥  ♥

Please like and share this blog, not to stroke my ego, but for those who need the courage, strength and hope to start and continue their journey down Recovery River. I would appreciate it if you would sign up and follow as well.  My intention is to post Mondays and Thursdays.   Please comment and offer suggestions.  I’d love to hear from you.

Peace