Fitting in. I was a follower. I so desperately wanted to fit in that all through my high school I molded myself into what I thought everyone else wanted me to be. My parents, my friends, my teachers, my boyfriends, and on and on. Like a chameleon I was forever changing. Not of course for what I wanted because when you have low self-esteem does it really matter what you want? And what did I get for all this facade? Disappointment, a broken heart, and even lower self-esteem.
When I turned eighteen I thought "now's the time to be who you want to be". But since I had no self confidence and very little direction I continued down the path I always had. I could look the part on the outside but the black hole on the inside was forever expanding. People are shocked when I tell them that I finally began to get real and figure out who I was when I turned 41. The year I entered the doors of AA.
Not right away of course. I mean it does take a while for a million insecurities that have inhabited your life to go away. The voices of self doubt, the humiliation, the "why don't they like me" syndrome. It doesn't shake overnight. So I could so relate to the man that broke down at our Saturday morning meeting. He was frustrated, didn't think he mattered, wasn't sure of who he was....and it took me two seconds to take myself right back to where he was. And I don't like to revisit there too often.
The truth is he does matter. Maybe not to himself but to those of us in the room, he's a reminder of where we have been, and where we can still take ourselves. What I didn't realize is that being in that state of mind has a catastrophic effect on ones life. I didn't know who I was, or if I ever mattered so I let alcohol manage my life. I mean mismanage. I let it effect my job, because I wasn't confident to stand behind my directives, I let it run my marriage, poor C married to a drunk like me, I let it effect my mothering, it all seemed to big and overwhelming, I let it effect my very being. It defined who I was. Now that's pretty sad.
Thank God (literally) for sponsors! Mine took one look at me and knew that she had to teach me to love myself, to stand behind my decisions, to stick up for myself, and to realize that I was the only one who could make myself feel anything. If you told me I was stupid and I believed you, then I just bought your agenda. The transormation has been awesome. I shut my big mouth, and instead of trying to munipulate or bully my way, I've learned to delegate, and direct. Instead of feeling awkward and shy I've learned to extend my hand and make the first move. I've learned to laugh at myself without tearing myself down, to like myself without vanity, to take criticism and make it work, and to own who I am.
This in turn has made me a better employee, a better spouse(have a lot of work in this department) a better parent, daughter, friend, and all around person. She taught me that the biggest weakness is buying someone else's agenda, and not trusting myself. That my HP loves me in weakness and in strength. I am not perfect, and I have no desire to be. Do I fully know who I am? No, it will hopefully take a lifetime to figure out. Love yourself, embrace your uniqueness. Who cares what the status quo does? I cared and look where it got me. A big black hole with little inside. Thankfully that hole is very small these days, and getting smaller as time goes on.
So what's the greatest gift you can give someone? To let them know they matter. That they are important. We made sure this fellow AA man did Saturday morning. That if he was feeling like he didn't belong it's because he was letting that happen. We were ready any time he was. And you know what? Saturday evening he came to the potluck speaker meeting, and he ate, and he laughed, and he listened, and he left with a smile.
Every once in a while I find myself not feeling worthy. But then I remember what I've been taught. I take an inventory of all the awesome people in my life, I give thanks to my HP and I tell myself I matter. Because I do, because you do, we all do! The world is a big place and not always kind, so the next time you're not feeling so great about yourself, stop and give yourself a little love, a pep talk, and a mental hug. It's the best thing you can do for yourself, and for those around you. It's a "win, win" situation.......