I’ve made two thought-breakthroughs this week.
Number one is how I drive myself to despair and dysfunction through self-undermining thoughts. I realized this time last year, I started on a series of two short-term jobs that weren’t right for me. I was grateful for the opportunity, and I needed the money, so despite extreme discomfort (one due to high temperatures in a heat wave in a kitchen, one due to being surrounded by anger and cruelty) I beat myself up for being unhappy. Instead of just saying ‘yarg I’m miserable but I have to do this, how can I get through’ my internal monologue was a drill sergeant: ‘What the fuck is wrong with you that you can’t manage this? That you can’t accept this and be grateful? That you can’t make the most of this and rock it? These other kids are doing it. You pathetic, old, ugly fat worm.’ In having perspective on how I treated myself last year, no WONDER I started really losing my sanity. We all wind up in jobs that have things that drive us crazy. If we can accept it sucks and get out as soon as we are able, that’s one thing. I was beating myself up all day every day, for not being as young or as thin or as stoic as my coworkers. For my insides not matching everyone else’s outsides. I was not accepting reality, I was scrambling for a dream world that was not possible. For the first time I truly understand the point of cognitive psychology, after 12 years of practicing it thinking I was questioning my own sanity. It’s not questioning my sanity – it’s monitoring my thoughts. I can’t go around beating myself up all day, it’s counterproductive and it’s not realistic either. I’m not the best person in the world, and I’m not the worst person.
Number two thought-breakthrough is that, since I quit drinking, the number one thing I have missed is how LOVING I was as a drinker. How popular, how adored, how surrounded by big groups of friends. How much my family liked me, how much the crowd liked me, how much the bar liked me. How I accepted everyone and didn’t judge them or myself, I just happily swam in the sea of humanity. Suddenly this week, while reading my book “Recovery: The Sacred Art” I realized due to hard work, I am WAY more loving NOW. The thing was when I sobered up, I was no longer as able to LIE to myself. I could no longer maintain an illusion that I was loving when in reality, I had some love, some hate, a huge chip on my shoulder, and a lot of judgement and intolerance. I was being VERY judgmental as a drunk, smack talking and gossiping and disdaining, carrying grudges and resentments like a sack of rocks. But thanks to booze I didn’t have to face anything that made me uncomfortable, so I glossed over all that and patted myself on the back for being such a egalitarian. I felt the rush of confidence and good chemicals around friends and family that one gets at the start of imbibing – and took that as reality, when it was simply chemicals. People may or may not have felt differently about me, I really can’t know that – but I thought differently about me. The more sober I get, the more I have to actually WORK at loving – it’s not like falling downhill. It takes a lot of fighting my nature and instincts, it takes a lot of monitoring my thoughts and being brutally honest about the fact I’m not better or worse than anyone else, from the screaming homeless person to the CEO with a big family. We are all equal, and that is something I just didn’t know in my heart until recently.
That’s what thinking about humility has done for me this week!