I’m Not Sick Anymore

Some people don’t like using the word “sick” when describing someone with an addiction. I get it. Just like the words alcoholic and addict, saying someone is sick can add to the shame and stigma associated with addiction, and prevent a person from getting the help they need.

But was I sick? Yes.

Although I didn’t drink every day and I seemed to be doing well in life, I wasn’t. I had fears and insecurities, not of the normal variety, that made me emotionally sick.

As a result, I was overly jealous of people and an extremely jealous husband. I felt like I needed to prove myself at almost every turn—believing deep down that I didn’t stack up to others. And I tried to be something I wasn’t, often acting out in arrogant and egotistical ways, in an attempt to feel better about myself.

I was also spiritually sick.

I should have been a better person than I was. A better friend. A more loving husband. And certainly a more loving and caring father.

Not that I was a bad person. I tried not to do things that I knew I shouldn’t, and I actually did some good things in my drinking days. But I just couldn’t sustain a better way of living. Sooner or later my fears would overwhelm me. My insecurities would become too great. And I would turn to the only thing that I thought could help me with how I was feeling.  Even when riddled with guilt, I could not stop drinking for a long period of time, and I would return to the behaviors that actually made me feel worse about myself.

Eventually I got help and began living a different way, but I was still emotionally and spiritually sick in the beginning. But as I remained sober, my brain healed. And as I kept trying to be a better person than I was before, I was no longer sick.

I had changed the things about myself that needed to be changed. The thoughts and behaviors that didn’t make me a bad person, but along with my drinking, kept me emotionally and spiritually “sick” and prevented me from becoming the person I always wanted to be.

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My Ego Is Just Fine Thank You

I enjoy helping others. It makes me feel good about myself, and gives me a sense of achievement.

The definitions listed below are why I think most people’s troubles come from insecurity, and not ego like many spiritual gurus state. The third definition of ego comes from insecurity. It is a false sense of ego used to overlook our fears and insecurities, and help us feel better about ourselves. I should know. I had a false ego all through my life—even into my early sobriety. It was in my sobriety, however, that I was able to become more self-confident and grow to love myself. I also found greater happiness in life. Especially after finally becoming happy with who I was.

It is those things that I want for others. It’s why I do what I do to help people. Not because of ego. And not because of insecurity. But because of who I’ve become.

ego: 1. A person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance. 2. The part of the mind that mediates between the conscious and the unconscious and is responsible for reality testing and a sense of personal identity. 3. An overly high opinion of oneself

insecurity: 1. Uncertainty or anxiety about oneself; lack of confidence.

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He Said She Said

“I write about fears and insecurities on my blog and I’m not afraid to admit I still have some. Fortunately, I know I can overcome my fears and that I’m capable of working through any insecurities I feel. Like the other day for example. The thought popped into my head that I might appear to be feminine at times. After a few minutes of self-talk, I was able to reassure myself that I’m actually quite manly. Then as I finished painting the rest of my toenails, a smile came to my face as I realized how ridiculous the thought was.”

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A Quiet Confidence

Whether we’re aware of it or not, there are different levels of things we experience both in life and as a person. For instance. There are different levels of wealth or debt we occur. Different levels of happiness we experience. Different levels of love we feel for people. Different levels of faith one can have. And for the sake of this writing, there are different levels of confidence we can have in ourselves.

For some of us, it takes time and different experiences to grow more self-confident, and there are occasions when we need to talk to someone when we have doubts in our lives. Doing so can help us uncover any underlying fears and insecurities we may have and better understand why we have them.

I have a lot of confidence in myself these days, but it certainly doesn’t mean I’m more confident than some of you reading this, or that I’m completely free of insecurity. But I know that as long as I’m willing to learn from certain things I go through, and use what I learn to improve on myself, my confidence will continue to grow. One of  the more recent experiences that helped me reach a higher level of self-confidence was going to college.

I first dreamed of going back to school in 2003, and although I would get quite an education through helping people with addictions and counseling teenagers, I still always wanted to attend college someday. I believe education can add to our personal growth, and when circumstances came into play that would allow me to obtain an associate degree in drug and alcohol counseling, I was excited for the opportunity. I must admit, though, that while I thought I already knew a lot about counseling and addiction, I would learn many more things, and I would also learn more about myself.

I really enjoyed going to college. In some ways it reminded me of when I was in high school. Just like back then, I would often display a sense of humor in the classroom and have fun with some of the teachers.

Besides being the funny guy at times, I also participated in discussions we had in some of the classes. I liked sharing my thoughts on whatever the topic was, and I could be quite passionate about it at times. Most people didn’t seem to mind, and a few would say they liked what I shared, which made me feel good, but I could tell a few of them didn’t care about my views. I just wrote it off as thinking they just didn’t get me, but something would happen later that year to make me see there was more to my active participation than I realized.

In one of my classes during the last semester, just after one of my soap box exhibitions about something I don’t even remember now, someone joked about me going on for so long and a young lady, who was actually defending me, spoke up and said. “He just has a lot to say.” Everyone laughed, including me and the teacher, but it opened my eyes to the fact that I had been feeling a very strong need to share my views all the time. A lot of what I had to say came from the passion I felt about helping others, and participating in class seemed like the perfect outlet for it. But after that day, I made it a point to try to show more restraint in sharing my views and I often sat quietly while others shared theirs.

In my second year, although I continued to show restraint in most discussions, something began changing inside of me, and by the time the last semester got under way I knew there was more to my need to share than just passion. During that semester, I didn’t always agree with some of the things we talked about in class or with certain things I read in some of the books about addiction. Much of what we discussed from these books had to do with stereotypical alcoholics and addicts, and I felt the class needed to hear more about people like me who didn’t drink everyday, but still had a problem.

I was also proud of the knowledge I had obtained from working with people with addictions and it frustrated me when I felt some of my views weren’t being taken seriously. This wasn’t actually the case, as I knew some of the students liked and trusted what I had to say, but it’s how I allowed myself to feel at times. Fortunately, though, as the semester progressed I would realize what was actually making me feel the way I did.

I had begun having doubts earlier that year about some of my personal views on counseling and addiction and I let it affect my self-confidence. I also felt like my identity was slipping away and I no longer felt as good about myself as I once did. The good news, though, was that I fought these insecurities and I was determined to emerge with what I would later call a quiet confidence. One where I didn’t feel the need to have all the answers and could simply sit back and let others share their views.

Finally, as the semester was coming to an end, I began exhibiting this new-found confidence and it felt good knowing that once again self-awareness and my drive to grow had paid off. I left school with more knowledge than I had before and I was now able to show more confidence in my personal life as well.

A quiet confidence where I no longer feel the need to have all the answers, and I’m able to sit back and listen to what others have to say in life.

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The Here and Now

We need to work on overcoming our fears and insecurities. It helps us to become stronger and find greater happiness. Life can be scary at times for different reasons, including our past.  And perhaps more frightening when we think about our future. However, all we really have is the present. Living in the here and now is where we find our strength to learn from our past, not worry about our future, and work on any fears and insecurities we may have. It’s also where we find greater happiness.

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