Being of use is a lot tougher than it sounds. For years, all I concerned myself with was getting by, getting through, getting over. I won’t slow your project down, but at the same time I’m not exactly rolling up my sleeves.
Step 12: having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
Here’s the message I’d like to deliver today: it gets so much easier. Scratch that; and I’ll use capital letters to emphasize my point: IT GETS SO MUCH EASIER. Scratch that that; as long as I’m willing to work it. Of course there’s a caveat. Nothing’s free.
And I’m not talking about not drinking. I’m talking about taking the program out into the world. When I first walked in, my only aspiration was to climb back to zero, because that’s what debtors do.
Now, with most of the major reconstruction complete, it’s up to me to maintain daily maintenance and upkeep. It also puts me in a state of grace that allows me to interact with my fellow humans without beating them about the head with all of my heavy baggage. Asking me a simple question doesn’t require a diatribe on the socioeconomic imbalance in the world. Stay focused; most questions don’t require my filter.
What I’m slowly starting to learn is that I need to see things through other people’s filters. Some call that empathy. Others, good manners. But I am totally capable of doing the right thing, and saying the right words, and still come off as resentful, angry, and put-out. This is where the mantra fake it till you make it actually makes sense to me. Within a short period of time of honest effort, I could recognize others’ reactions to me. They were less guarded, more open, and in some cases, downright shocked.
I’m not talking about putting on a cheerleading outfit and joining the fun committee. I’m talking about assisting others in the pursuit of their goals. And if I’m willing to work on my reactions, I can feel the switch flip inside me. I’m no longer faking it. I’m actually happy that they are happy. I wasn’t sitting around waiting for someone to come and make me happy.
As with almost everything else I thought about in this life, it doesn’t work that way. Quite the opposite.