Recovery. For me is less about learning how to be a better person and more about letting go of the things that keep me from my Higher Power. There’s a saying in my program, “We’re not bad people trying to get good, we’re sick people trying to get well.” That rings true for me. Although, “well” for me is being closer to my true self. Which I believe is closer to the me my higher power wants me to be. The real me is kind, gentle, vulnerable, generous and loving. 

What the world taught me… or what I learned anyways, is to be wary. The world is out to get me and in order to protect myself I need to be standoffish, fearful, greedy, sneaky, selfish, self-centered, and distrustful. That helps me feel safe. The bad news is when I behave like that I like myself less. Little by little I lose self-esteem. I start thinking I am a person who is not to be trusted. A person I don’t trust. And the worse I feel about myself, the more likely I am to try and insulate myself from my feelings. 

Alcohol was great at that for a long time, insulating me from myself that is. Nothing worked better. Don’t get me wrong, alcohol was not my only crutch. I did lots of other stuff too. I was kinda like a garbage can. I’d pretty much try anything to feel different. If it was there, I would probably do it. Even if I didn’t like how it made me feel. For instance; I really didn’t like the way crystal meth made me feel. I actually kinda hated it. But that was still better than not doing meth. I hated to feel how I was feeling more than I hated being on meth. Bleak, right? But, I never really had a problem with all those other things. I was relieved when the meth ran out, or the coke, or the weed. They just weren’t that big of a deal. They were like side dishes… I could do with or without them… better than nothing. But alcohol? That was the main course every time. I couldn’t live without it. Booze was my lifeblood. I had to have it to feel better, even when it made me feel worse. Alcohol was the antidote for me.

In recovery, I don’t feel like I have to hide from myself anymore, and most of the time, I don’t have to hide from you either. Time and good behavior taught me that I can be trusted. Occasionally, there’s still that same niggling doubt inside, but I no longer have to pay attention to or act on it. I can just recognize it for what it is, it’s just the flinch of a little scared kid. I mostly do the right thing these days. The next indicated right thing. If I keep my world small like that, everything seems to get better. I can be in the flow of life. The less I worry about me, the better my life gets. 

Have you ever noticed how you never see crazy people out on the street yelling about how good it is? They always seem to be angry. Angry self-absorbed victims. I am aware their situation is grim but I don’t think mental illness comes after homelessness, at least most of the time. I think (not every time, but often)  it starts with self pity. Here’s an anecdote; my family and I were walking in Hollywood, and this disheveled man wandered by, muttering to himself. We heard him say, to no-one in particular, “This town would be ok if there weren’t so many buttholes everywhere.” It was funny, and sad. Self pity is a killer and can steal everything. You never see the mentally ill brimming with gratitude and good humor. I believe in a number of ways I can protect myself with gratitude. 

I have to remember to be grateful. To say thanks when I go to bed. To say thanks a lot, every day, to lots of people. To show my appreciation to my family and friends. What a difference a mindset makes. Two men wake up in the morning. One man says today’s gonna suck. The other man says today’s gonna be great. They’re both right.

I just need to stay right sized, be grateful for the things I have and for the things I don’t.

I need to live in a place of abundance, a mindset of abundance, and try to be more my true self. Gratitude breeds gratitude.  Gratitude is the antidote to alcohol, for me. Thanks for reading this!

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