“Sometimes it is our losses that help us find greater strength and to grow. Except, that is, when we’re older and keep losing stuff that we use everyday.”
“Growing and becoming a better person takes time, effort, and patience. For example. Just after getting rid of all my inner Demons, a few years ago. Some outer ones came along.”
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.
I’ve found that when it comes to having doubts in life or in ourselves, we can be insecure in one of two ways. We can look up to people who are confident and strong, and be inspired to grow and be like them. Or we can be jealous of them and act out in ways that we think make us look confident and strong.
I was the latter of the two during my drinking days. But once I stopped drinking and admitted I needed help staying sober, I was fortunate to find people in Alcoholics Anonymous who understood me. People who loved me unconditionally, and explained how my pride and ego were to blame for my vain and pretentious behaviors, and my unhappiness.
I didn’t always like some of these people, but I listened to them anyway because I wanted to be like them—happy and sober.
In time I began to see that what they called ego was really fears and insecurities, and although I eventually stopped going to AA meetings, I still continued to change the things about myself that prevented me from growing both spiritually and as a person. (Mostly my negative thoughts and behaviors.)
I don’t pretend to be the most confident person today. Nor do I pretend to be the strongest. But I have grown enough to continue looking up to people who are, and try to be like them.
I’m just grateful that all those years ago (almost 21 now) that I found the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous and people there who wanted to help me stay sober. People that expected nothing in return, and were still growing themselves.
People I will always remember.
“As we grow. It’s important to remember there are things that can bug us. And things that can change our lives in a negative way. And knowing the difference is where we find peace.”
I recently watched several old VHS tapes with recordings of family on them, and cried more than a few times as memories of moments gone by came rushing back.
Some of these recordings were from the family vacations my wife and I took our son and daughter on, while others showed us doing different activities with them. And some were of the kid’s birthday parties and family get-togethers my wife loved to have.
I saw happy people laughing and having fun, while being the camera man and making comments that I thought were funny, but I’m sure some people didn’t. And I saw myself in the videos as well.
The recordings were from an 8 mm camcorder I bought in 1993, and even with poor picture quality due to time and other factors, they were still fun to watch. Well mostly fun to watch.
The recordings on ten VHS tapes show moments from September of 1993 to New Year’s Day 2000. But the first two and half years are from my drinking days. Vacations where I was clearly buzzed on the boardwalk. Stuff I did with the kids, like making funny videos, where drinking beer was also involved. (Just me, not the kids.) And the birthday parties and family get-together my wife loved, where I made sure alcohol was on hand for the adults.
One of these videos, recorded in January of 1996, stuck out though, because it involves my children and was recorded just four months before I quit drinking for good.
I had been drinking for over 18 years and was very unhappy at that time, plus I didn’t have a clue what life was about. But there the answer was being recorded yet again, as I drank instead of truly enjoying moments like this with my kids.
I cried at times while watching it. And it made me wish I had quit drinking much sooner.
Although the video shows a mix of fun, happiness, laughter, and togetherness, it also shows the behaviors of a man who thinks he’s being a good dad, but sadly, like life, doesn’t have a clue what being one is about.
Besides my obvious drinking in it. (I take a few sips of beer on film, and make a joke about it each time.) The fun we were having, while not bad in any way, clearly demonstrates the sometimes subtle and hidden dysfunction within a family that a non-stereotypical drunk like myself, can create. (I didn’t drink every day. Still had a job, a home, and some money in the bank.)
What the video doesn’t show, however, is what contributed to the dysfunction, and to my drinking. The fears and insecurities I had all my life.
Here I am in this video, 36 years old, and you would think I was more of a funny friend than a father to my children. My immature behaviors and sometimes unfiltered words are anything but role model quality. And although no one would shudder or think what they saw was awful. I saw a lack of emotional growth in myself, and someone who used alcohol to face their fears and insecurities.
I don’t beat myself up over my past anymore, and even through my tears I knew I was at least trying to be a good father back then. But I simply was not capable of being a better one. (Thankfully they had a wonderful mother who knew how to be a parent.)
I wrote about my childhood in my book, which was far worse than anything my kids ever experienced. But I know my mom and dad tried to be good parents, and I watched them change for the better through the years. Which brings me to the video recordings after I quit drinking.
Watching those tapes, I can honestly say I slowly improved as a father, and as a husband. I wish I had tapes of family recordings up to now. I know they would show my continual improvement as a father and husband. And perhaps more importantly, continual improvement in myself.
As I remained sober, first through Alcoholics Anonymous and then on my own, improving on myself contributed to becoming a better parent and spouse, and certainly my long-term sobriety.
Actually there is another video that stands out that was recorded in August of 1996. It’s the first family vacation we went on after I stopped drinking. Like the other one, it shows a mix of fun, happiness, laughter, and togetherness, but doesn’t show the fears and insecurities I had.
What’s different, though, is that in this one, I was ready to face life sober, and finally become the person, father, and husband I never knew how to be.
To grow is to move away from what we already know in search of something new. Something better. To grow is to face our fears of the unknown, while trying to maintain faith that we’re doing what is needed to feel better about ourselves. Love ourselves. Growth is change. A change in our thinking and our emotional well-being. When we are emotionally well, we see life differently. We see ourselves differently. We know we have grown and will continue to do so. We know we are better than we were before.
To grow is to become happy with who we are and to continue to love ourselves, even when we do things we don’t like ourselves for. We know we can change our behaviors and improve on who we are. We know our continuous striving for growth will never stop, and we don’t want it to. Our fears are more diminished. Our faith is stronger. We know we can keep moving away from what we already know with the promise of better things to come, even in times when the unknown scares us.