I Me Mine
A few years ago, when I had around two years of sobriety, I was struggling. I had completed the steps twice. I had reentered school to complete my Bachelor’s Degree. I had finally moved out of my sober living. But I felt completely disconnected and I wanted to crawl out of my skin for most of the day. I shared about this feeling with my homegroup, mostly complaining about how my life should have been better. A friend of mine, who head easily over 10 years, pulled me aside and said something I wasn’t expecting. “Jack,” he inquired. “You know the sun doesn't revolve around the earth right?” I stared at him with a blank look. “In other words, stop thinking about yourself so much.” This moment, although small, changed my perception. I always likened my friend’s approach to George Harrison’s lyric: “All through the day, I me mine. I me mine. I me mine.”
Here is an example of how my perception can become skewed. I really did not want to write this blog post. It’s a combination of exhaustion, racing thoughts, the pressure I place on myself, and the news. Yes, I know. I have been doing my best to not look at the news, but it can be difficult after a few days. The thought, “Maybe things are getting better” creeps into my mind and I take action with it. Now, I don’t want to make this blog a political blog and I try to stay out of politics as much as possible. In fact, many of my closest friends are the stark opposite of me on the political spectrum. But after reading that Wisconsin’s state supreme court overruled the governor and forced people to still show up to vote, I became a little jaded. Regardless of what party you belong to, risking people’s lives for an election that could have been postponed is quite simply a power grab and reveals what the government is more concerned with right now. Now, that is about as far as I’ll go chasing that arsonist. I’m not going to pretend to have a solution on that particular situation, and will not share my opinion any further. And here’s why:
I used to drink at people. People, the government, society, the girl who didn’t like me back. You name it. If I resented you, I would show you by self-sabotaging. It is classic alcoholic and addict behavior. Eventually I got sober, but this behavior can still linger. Luckily, I have tools to recognize it and then choose what to do with it. I didn’t have any choices six years ago. Over the past six years, this “drinking at someone” has turned into eating, watching porn, childlike tantrums, etc. This usually leaves me resentful. And then I have to do step work, which I never enjoy doing. But it works. So last night I felt pretty jaded and didn’t want to write.
With the night free, I logged onto my homegroup Zoom meeting. And wouldn’t you know it, my fucking sponsor was speaking. Someone once told me a slogan that stuck - “Is it odd or is it god?” And it’s times like these, when I am at my wits end, that I find my higher power reveals himself through other people. What annoyed me, however, is that he spoke about connecting with many of his sponsees and friends over the last few weeks. He had tried his best to stay connected, and it was working.
During his share, I was reminded of a quote from the Big Book, “Simple but not easy; a price had to be paid. It meant the destruction of self-centeredness.” This is not an easy task for alcoholics and addicts. We have to put ourselves through unbearable suffering time and time again to understand this price. We are self-centered in the extreme. For me, my only thought every morning was how to get high and stay high. Nothing else really mattered. I desperately wanted it to but I was lost to the power of my addiction.
Sitting there jaded, I knew it was only a matter of time until I chose to self-sabotage. Writing every day about yourself can become a slippery slope. Everything begins to revolve around my feelings, thoughts, reactions and perception of my experience. And I can feel self-centeredness or a ‘me first’ way of thinking come creeping back. So I followed the solution my sponsor said in his share. I began to reach out to people. It started out with a few sponsees. And then it started with a few friends from high school I have not heard from in ten or so years. A college friend of mine from South Korea reached out. As my interest and concern for others began to grow, my bitterness began to fade. A mentor of mine once told me, “My neighbor's health is in my best interest.” And so again, I have to remember to put a ladder to the window and remember that helping and connecting is in my best interest. And that blaming and resenting are dead end roads that interfere with my physical, mental, and spiritual health.
This Article was written by Jack Shain, CADC-II and founder of Keep Left Recovery. KLR is a private drug and alcohol counseling service located in West Los Angeles.