About Me

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I have recovered from the disease of Alcoholism. I believe there is only one person really,.. everybody. And that peace of mind is everything. -So treat your neighbor as you would treat yourself, because your neighbor IS yourself. I think most of recovery is what I would call common sense, but that learning to be ordinary is a true gift very few people acquire. My ambition is to accept everything unflinchingly, with compassion, and therefore be intrinsically comfortable in my own skin, no matter what. I am comfortable being uncomfortable and am willing to go to any lengths to improve my life. I believe the Big Book was divinely inspired, and is extraordinarily powerful. Unfortunately AA's best kept secret a lot of the time. (In my opinion). I just try to do what works, no matter what it is.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

'Maybe I'm not that bad': Pervasive and unconscious Self Doubt

'Maybe I'm not that bad'
Is a thought I get quite a lot these days. The reason I’m mentioning it here is so that you kind-of know this is coming. Later on. A lot. If you have not started thinking this already.
As far as I am concerned if you start thinking this in a sort of involuntary way in less than 5 years sobriety, I think you are doing a pretty !! good job.
Whatever. I suppose I had some ? sort of renewed faith in myself at 5 years, but this is different. Its like its very VERY slowly ‘dawning’ on me, that I MIGHT NOT BE THAT BAD.
You know, not ‘beyond hope’
Not ‘beyond repair’
Not a ‘lost cause’ in respect to certain areas I would have been CONVINCED were ‘off limits’ or ‘out of reach’.
More like I see the ‘plasticity’ of recovery.
I am starting to be more open minded as to just what can be altered.
More ? optimistic perhaps.
Perhaps I see better that you can cover A LOT of ground sometimes. If you just keep your head down and do the work, instead of giving up on yourself because it looks IMPOSSIBLE.

I’m not just talking about difficult tasks like study. (Because that really is difficult.) I mean stuff the therapists tell you JUST ISNT POSSIBLE.
The stuff they tell you CANT BE DONE.
I suppose I mean emotional work. Getting from A to B.
Hey I’m not there yet, but more and more I see my insides changing for the better. I don’t really know WHY it’s happening. I can guess. I have very helpful influences in my recovery. By no virtue of mine. I am lucky perhaps. I have no idea why people are helpful to me. That’s the truth. I really don’t know if I am doing the right things or not. I try my best but I have no idea if I am off course. I suspect I am sometimes. Hopefully not too often. Whatever. What I mean is I HAVE NO SURE FOOTING. I make my best guess and that’s it. The rest I don’t know.
Which means I am still capable of making crippling errors of judgement from time to time. That’s scary. When you REALLY realise that. That ALL your knowledge and ALL your experience, and ALL your ‘good intentions’ WILL NOT SAVE YOU from your own ..fallabilty.
To err is human. Unfortunately.
We are all in the same boat. None of us REALLY know what we are doing.
We all LIKE to think we ‘know’ left from right.
But it’s not that simple.
Anyway. The issue of uncertainty aside.

I just hear myself saying to myself in my head 'Maybe I'm not that bad' in a sort of bewildered confused surprise. Like I just learned that black is white or up is down. It’s a confusing perception, but feels like a gradual dawning upon my senses that all this time I was wrong, and things really are NOT what they seem.

The reason I mention this, is because I tend to sponsor people with very low self-image. Way WAY !!! off the reality chart. They think they are second-class citizens or something. The thinking is SO pervasive and habitual, they don’t even notice it till I point it out. The look of aghast surprise when I tell them they have a DUTY to themselves to NOT permit others to mistreat them repeatedly comes as a HUGE surprise.
So what I’m saying is they are very LOW confidence, LOW self-belief types. (I might add that learning to NOT be a doormat is NOT as easy as it sounds. Those with persecution complexes for instance need to be VERY VERY !!! careful with this one, as they see ‘attack’ everywhere, and are frequently wrong.)

Anyway. I hear them saying later on, in the same slightly surprised tone I hear in my own head, saying ‘Maybe I’m not that bad’. And it makes me realise that we are having the same experience on some level or other. Which always cheers me up as I want sponsees to feel and experience the things I have felt in the process to getting well. It reassures me that I am passing it on. Thank god. You have to give it away to keep it. And I plan on keeping it.

Don’t get me wrong. I have a list a MILE long of stuff I want to be different. Stuff I have NO IDEA how I will crack. Seriously. Makes study look like a piece of cake!
I have SO many things I want to be different. But I have NO idea when or how it will happen. I’m just ‘plugging away’. Doing my lousy best. Seeing what happens. Some of this stuff I have been working on in some form or other for YEARS. And I am VERY stubborn!! Heheh. Even though I KNOW something is GOOD for me, I DO NOT LIKE HAVING TO LET GO OF OLD IDEAS and CONSIDER THAT I MIGHT BE COMLETELY !!!!! WRONG !!!! ABOUT SOMETHING.
Unfortunately that’s the ONLY way I know how to change things!
First. Consider the ! possibility that I am COMPLETLY !! WRONG about something!

Basically you have to eat a LOT of humble pie.
Eat your words.
Reverse ones ideas about things. All kinds of stuff.
Basically as they say in the U2 video for the the song ‘the fly..


Heheh. Its TRUE.
Horrifying isn’t it?
Heheee well you just gotta get used to it and get used to eating your words.

And here’s the thing.
As I am writing this. I KNOW that at some point in the future, I might ! look back at this and think..

W o w
I was S O wrong about that .. and I had NO idea. No clue at ALL.
But hey. On that cheery note! I may as well head off to the gym and all that stuff.

But do you see? Nothing is really certain. That’s what I mean. And even when we are quite nice human beings, we still have terrible, glaring weaknesses we have yet to discover, or fully appreciate. But glaring weaknesses are all part of the deal of being a human. So no big deal. What’s new?

That’s why I think its funny that people look at old timers like they ‘know the answers’. Anyone with ANY sense KNOWS they don’t know the answers. But I am CONVINCED that new people are attracted to people who have been around simply because they can SENSE that the ‘old timer’ can TELL that there are no ‘right’ answers. That ability to rest comfortably in uncertainty is what makes them look ‘safe’. Gawd knows.

Right. Gym beckons.

By the way, this ‘I’m not that bad’ stuff. I’m not fishing for compliments. I KNOW I’m alright, but I’m just sharing with you the conversations I have with myself regarding my own pervasive self doubt.

Also this is more relevant to those from the self-doubt end of the spectrum. I meet newcomers who have FAR too much confidence for heir own good. They reckon they are ‘A-ok!’ when they CLEARLY are not. Those people need a WHOLE different kind of conversation going on!! This is more for the people who CANNOT see no matter HOW hard they look, that they are ALRIGHT.
So there you go. See? You ARE MUCH better than you think. You just don’t know it yet. Yes and you have terrible flaws too, that you probably cant see either, but what I’m saying is that EVEN WITH THOSE TERRIBLE FLAWS, YOU ARE OK.
Flaws are normal. Even the terrible blind ones.
But YOU are OK. You are really quite a nice person. Yeah. ! Even you!
Weird huh?

So what's the moral of the story?
Because you will be MAD !!!!! at yourself in years to come when it FINALLY dawns on you that actually.. YOU ARE NOT THAT BAD!
You will be KICKING yourself for all the wasted opportunities and things you just figured were IMPOSSIBLE or OUT OF REACH, when you realize you ARE ok.
So save yourself a LOT !!! of heartache and beating yourself up later, by ALWAYS AIMING HIGHER THAN YOU THINK YOU HAVE A RIGHT TO. (‘Beyond your wildest dreams’ as they say..)
The worst thing that can happen is that someone will tell you ‘No’.
But I would MUCH rather someone ELSE told you NO,
Than YOU told you NO.
See? The IDEAL ‘no’ comes from SOMEBODY ELSE, not from YOU.
so basically. Don’t discount yourself from stuff. Nice people, nice places, nice jobs, you name it.
Because in YEARS to come, LONG after opportunities have come and gone. You will FINALLY realize that you are a !! nice human being. That other people want to be around! Even the nice ! people want to be around! You know. Properly.
So there you go.

‘Simple but not easy’ as the saying goes.
Too right!
See y’all. Have a fabulous Thursday!


molly said...

sooooo glad u back! i've missed your posts like this.

some days it does FEEL possible now that i may not be "that bad".. on the other side of step 4 things feel a LITTLE clearer or something. step 4 work had me feeling like oh my GOD how are these EVER going to be workable?!! they've been with me a LIFETIME.

a like listening to Pema's Chodron's teachings - how she makes it seem like EVERYTHING is "workable".. helps me not feel like too much of a lost cause! that a lot of the "new" stuff takes practice and you CAN train yourself to react differently.. so anyhoo - i've felt some sort of light of hope lately on the "bad me" thing. like pema says we can start where we are - that nothing is too "bad" to not be able to work with.. be it fear or anger or whatever.

i've really enjoyed the dhamma talks on doubt and most recently there is one called Going Without by Ajahn Munindo I like.. I like how he says "don't make anything out of it".. like we don't really have to make anything out of anything. REALLLLY?? that's been my whole way of life up to now.

ok - this is getting long - sorry. have a great weekend!!

Syd said...

When I have my moments of doubt, they usually come on the heels of fear or other character defects. I begin to convince myself that I am a sad case, etc. The intellectual part of myself tells me that I'm really a nice guy, Mr. Wonderful, etc. but my emotions tell me that I'm unlovable and taken for granted. So I have to resolve those differences by not letting the ego try to drag me down. Great post and glad to see you back sharing great thoughts.

Anonymous said...

I am guilty of this!!!

It is hard to balance out the wine-driven ego that was two years and four months ago with the newer sober person strugging to get out. The brain is working but now I am grappling with self-esteem issues. I am not a doormat. I am someone!
You hit this nail on the head.


Kathy Lynne said...

Yeah, maybe I'm not so bad...that feeling gets warmer and warmer as I get more and more sobriety. I have this feeling that I don't deserve the good things and settling for less. Its hard for me to receive, praise, thanks, gifts, etc. My therapist says it comes from not being nurtured and being punished and beaten. So I'm working on it and its getting better. Thanks for the great post.

Anonymous said...

it's just too easy to believe the worst, isn't it? validates every belief. confirms every fear. gives us the reward of being 'right'. willingness to grow toward something better is uncomfortable at best.

i'm pretty uncomfortable lately, come to think of it.

nice post.

Anonymous said...

I have recently had to re-enter the arena of the family disease. My father passed away 1 month ago and I am drawing on every little hint of detachment, wearing the world like a lose shift etc, as I carry out my duties as executor of my fathers estate. Anyway, no wonder I thought I was so 'bad'! I am constantly having to reassess myself when I leave the family and then I say "I'm not that bad!! It's almost as if the alcoholic family can only operate with an active alcoholic in it to point the finger at. When one of the alcoholics becomes clean and sober, Boy! do they hate that! So, yeah, I realise I'm not that bad, thanks to AA.
Lovely to have you back in the cyberworld.
It's all about meeeee.......