Someone posted on Facebook the other day this question, “what were you known for, in high school?” I very rarely answer any of this kind of crap on Facebook. I don’t do the chain stuff. But, I answered this one. The reason why was probably a little ego-driven. Because what was I known for was long hair and 12 step recovery.
It was in high school when I first got put into the hospital for my addiction.
When I first got out of treatment and went back to high school. There was A youth recovery group called R.A.F.T. Right Alternatives For Teens. R.A.F.T. was a support group in my local school district. The founder of the group, an art teacher, quickly approached me about joining R.A.F.T.
Most of the kids that were apart of R.A.F.T. seemed only to go to get out of class. I do remember one other kid. He was a couple of years older than me. While I was a freshman, he was a senior, and he was the only other one that seemed to be working a program and going to 12 Step meetings. He was the only other R.A.F.T. member that was willing to get in front of a group and tell his story. So, he and I became the two primary speakers.
We spoke at all kinds of faculty meetings, PTA meetings, even spoke to younger students at Junior Highs and elementary schools.
Doing all that public speaking, I learned real quick about public information for 12 Step Programs and how not to break the traditions in that area. So, that’s what I became well known for, while I was in high school. Being clean, being in recovery, and speaking about my drug use. And it quickly became an ego thing.
Suddenly, at least in the 12 Step Programs, we were the popular kids.
I got clean right before the First Lady started her whole “Just say No” campaign. All of a sudden, having a drug problem and getting clean and sober became popular. Kids would get busted for getting high once and get thrown into treatment.
There was a handful of us that were already “in the rooms” while all this was going on. And we became well known real quick among all the teenagers getting ‘clean and sober.’
Youth groups were popping up everywhere during the late ’80s to early ’90s.
The knowledge I have about the 12 steps, and these spiritual principles isn’t because I’ve been consistent in my recovery journey. It’s because I left the program once, on purpose, with the feeling that I had outgrown the 12 step programs.
A spiritual dilemma and my ego got the best of me. I was put upon such a high pedestal, that I became unteachable. So, at the age of 21, I decided to turn my back on the 12 step fellowships. And I left. Two years later, I made the most insane decision I could make. I made the conscious decision to drink with eight years clean and sober.
I have nothing to blame other than I made that conscious decision.
See, my powerlessness didn’t come back until after I took that drink. The moment that alcohol hit my system, I became powerless again. My life quickly became unmanageable. Why? Because “we were powerless. Our lives had become unmanageable.”
It’s real easy to look good for that hour when I’m in a 12 step meeting. Or even here online, when you can only see what I present to you. But ride with me in a cage(car) in rush hour traffic. Any day when I’m going to and from my office and see how quickly I lose my serenity.
Driving is honestly my biggest struggle with maintaining Spiritual Principles.
I use driving as an example a lot because that’s the example that stands out the most. So much so that my wife has begged me to change my way of driving. The funny thing is, every time I tried to change the way I drive, that’s when I get in an accident.
But I have expectations when I’m out on the road. If you want to get over in front of me, I expect you to use your damn blinker. If you don’t, I might not let you over. I justify it by saying I don’t know what you want to do. If you’re driving, I expect you to drive, not be on your cursed phone. I have those expectations; it doesn’t make them right.
Another way to talk about this is through discussing planning versus projection.
Here is an example of planning versus projection. Have you ever met someone new and within the first five minutes of meeting them, you’re already planning out the next five years with them?
There’s nothing wrong with me planning out my day. There’s nothing wrong with me looking ahead and planning out my life. There is nothing wrong with me making plans. The problem is when I make a plan and expect you to follow through with my plans.
The problem with projection is projection is planning with expectations.
As we learn more about living by spiritual principles, we talk about learning to put these principles before personalities. It took me a long time to understand that the key is not learning to put my principles before your personality. It’s the other way around. I need to learn to see your principles and put your principles before my personality. Because my personality is the only personality I can honestly define and change. I have no right to define or any ability to change your personalities.
Life is wonderful, built with diversity at its core and in its nature.
The only thing that we all share in common is the air we breathe. We were all born, we will all face death and we each have a self or ego. It is in our need for self-awareness and self-expression, that the diversity of life exists. Life itself is neutral, unprejudiced, neither right or wrong, good or bad.We were all created equal, but how we choose to live is not. Click To Tweet
Our desires, our self-perceptions, can either lead to fulfillment or loneliness. When our sense of self desires becomes more important than the common welfare of those around us, we call it ego. It is our ego that compels us to seek the endless journey of self-discovery and purpose. But it is also our egos that cause us to act out in self-sabotage. It is our egos that lead us to put expectations on ourselves and on those around us.
The only one that I’m here to change is myself.
It’s okay for me to plan what I can do. What I cannot do is project. If I want to keep my misery, then I can easily keep my focus on everything that is wrong with you and separate and sabotage my self. But today I have a choice.
My favorite version of the serenity prayer.
“God grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change. The courage to change the one I can. And the wisdom to know that one is me.” Because I’m always, always in need of more work, I’m never perfected.
“Always aspire to inspire before we expire!”