Everything looks like a nail if all you’ve got is a hammer!

Everything looks like a nail if all you’ve got is a hammer! Drinking was my go-to for anything life threw at me. It became my only tool. When something good happened, I drank. When something painful happened, I drank. When I was afraid, I drank. When I was celebrating, you get it. Drinking was my coping skill. It turns out it was a very poor one at that. I was ill-equipped to live life on life’s terms, and avoiding that seemed the only sane way to live. Crazy, right? It takes courage and faith to live life well; I had neither. So I drank, and nothing got better. Frankly, everything got worse.

Something bad did not happen every time I drank, but I was drinking every time something bad happened. Using any mind-altering substance to cope with everyday life is inherently unhealthy. Life happens to everybody. Why do I feel the need to run from it? Acceptance is essential for me today. Looking back, drinking to avoid discomfort never worked, and in truth, drinking was always either the cause of the problem or the result. It never solved anything.

When you’re a child, you’re inventing yourself. You don’t realize it at the time because you’re a child. But in retrospect, you evolve according to your behavior and environment. You turn into who you turn into because of your family, friend group, interests, and fears. A revelation to me was realizing as an adult, I do the same. I create myself daily. I’m faking it. We’re all faking it! I behave in different ways depending on the circumstances in which I find myself. I’m not the same guy in court as I am with my friends. Or with my kids. Or behind the wheel. Why? What mask do I feel the need to wear today?  Why do I feel the need to wear a mask at all? To paraphrase Jack Handy, “I’m good enough…”

The only constant in the universe is change. If I have no faith, this state can be frightening. The less I feel secure, the more likely I cling to my old, shopworn concepts of self. I am a spiritual being in a meat bag having an experience in ever-changing circumstances.

If I have faith, I can trust that things are going to be ok. Are ok. Then I can be more comfortable being myself, my true self. What a relief to know I can stop being who I don’t want to be any time! Old behaviors do not dictate current/future behaviors. If I continue to change those old behaviors now, the old mask will be revealed for what it was, something I hid behind, something to hide my true self. This new iteration of self is me trying to be more genuine, to be more genuinely me. Like a coming-of-age ceremony, I can start anew. 

When remodeling a home, the result is better if everything we don’t want gets torn out and hauled away. It can be difficult for the homeowner to see how much should be removed. The phrase “Polishing a Turd” fits this circumstance. How much time do we want to spend reworking something that’s ultimately not going to be what we want? The builder needs to be a bit ruthless in this stage to guarantee a better result. So when re-inventing myself, I need to ask how much of the old stuff do I want?

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