by Tony A.
I stumbled across a quote that read “the biggest challenge of life is to be yourself in a world that is trying to make you like everyone else.” How true and apropos these words are for me!
As far back as I can remember, I felt different and was plagued by a feeling that I somehow didn’t fit in or belong. I had a chronic feeling of uneasiness and anxiety and had the innate thought that if you really knew me that somehow you would not like what you saw.
Being both a member of Alcoholics Anonymous and Al-Anon, I can see how my perception of life became really distorted at a very young age, being affected by both the family disease of alcoholism and other painful events. Becoming quite skilled at manipulating and managing through this very often volatile environment, I tried every aspect of controlling my powerlessness over alcoholism. Then as I got older, and discovered alcohol and other substances, this became my solution to alcoholism until it did not work any longer.
A hallmark of alcoholism that I have come to understand is denial and thick layers of delusion and rationalization. I could not differentiate the real from the unreal and did not feel safe in the world around me. I started at a very early age trying to figure out what you wanted from me based on a perception that was already jaded from the dis-ease caused by alcoholism.
“Terminal uniqueness” is a term that I have heard used to describe the feeling of being separate and different from others. It is a fundamental state for many suffering from untreated alcoholism that can last for many, many years even when the substance is put down. It reminds me that this “terminal uniqueness” is really a manifest of a deeper malady that can be overcome by the consistent application of our recovery tools. This truth was really understood when I entered through the doors of Al-Anon.
Comparing myself to others was another distortion that has plagued me equally as long and I don’t think it is unique to those of us suffering from the malady produced by addiction. In a sense, the world sets us up for this in many ways as well. Having the belief that I have worth and value just as I am is something that has taken time to understand. To be honest, it continues to take much work to keep that belief as this does not come easily for me.
“Living life on life’s terms” is the sandbox that I need to learn to play in. Living sober, in many ways, has been about understanding about how to realize this and that I am not the centre of the universe and to minimize the self-centered ego that is the driving force of many of my character shortcomings. A big realization was that although I am not unique, I am in many ways am different and this needs to be honoured appropriately.
Learning to embrace myself in all its parts and practice genuine authenticity in a world that often times does not embrace this entirely is challenging at times. The world often times is not very compassionate and being a sensitive recovering alcoholic, I can take this quite personally. I learned long ago, when I began my recovery journey, that much of what was needed was not going to be easy but very much worth it if I tried and put the effort into it.
I am currently on a meditation journey that is going deeper within the realms of my mind using a mindfulness practice to examine the core belief system. This often means embracing a path that is vulnerable and often times uncomfortable. The bigger part of this lesson is to be open and live the experience. Action truly is the key.
I find meditation a great tool to assist me with getting more comfortable with myself and with who I am and the world around me. It allows me the assurance of knowing that I am doing the right thing and for myself and not for others. Many of the teachings that are incorporated into the meditation practice that I use are totally congruent with the philosophy and teachings of the 12-step paradigm. Many of the great wisdom teachers reinforce these spiritual ideas so there must be something to what they are saying.
Through these spiritual tools, I find that I am better able to define what is right and good for me and to have the courage to stand in that truth regardless. Being the example is often all that is needed for others to see. This has been the best way that I have learned, through the great role models and teachers that I have come to know over the years. A big shout out to those that have the courage to walk in your authenticity and remain true to your inner integrity.
Being myself takes a lot of courage. Be the example that you wish to see in others!