“Loving ourselves and being happy with who we are can sustain us during times when our lives aren’t what we want them to be, and empower us to keep moving toward greater fulfillment. It’s been my experience that we find greater fulfillment by helping others.”
I never asked to have a problem with alcohol, but then who does? No one asks to become addicted to a substance. However, some do, and it’s those people I want to help.
I didn’t get sober to grow as a person, I got sober because I wasn’t happy. I didn’t stay sober because of me, I had help along the way until I was able to remain sober on my own. But I did grow and I did become happier in life.
I didn’t write a book and start a blog to say “look at me, ain’t I wonderful.” I did so in an effort to help others look at themselves and see a wonderful person.
So maybe my growth, my happiness, and my passion to help others was meant to be, I don’t know. I just know it helps me love myself. Something more people need to do, especially those who used a drug to be happy and it failed them, much like alcohol eventually failed me.
I never asked to have a problem with alcohol. But I’m actually glad I did. While there are some things I might like to change about my past, I’m not sure I would. How would I know the difference between what was and how I feel today?
I’m happier in life. I’m happy with myself. And I’m happy to be able to help others.
None of this necessarily makes us a wonderful person, but it does help us feel wonderful about ourselves. Especially those of us who never asked to become addicted to a substance, but did.
The people I want to help. The people I love. The people who need to love themselves.
Helping others sometimes requires a sense of humor. I believe in being an example of someone who’s happy in life without using a substance and not afraid to make fun of themselves. I think you’ll agree that this video shows that.
“I used to be a rebel without a cause, but now that I have one. I’m still a rebel.” ~Darryl Duke
In December of 2010, I was poised to go off to college at the beginning of the new year, and had big plans for my future. In only the first semester, I was told that although an associate degree was a good start for a career as a drug and alcohol counselor, a bachelor’s degree would soon be necessary to get hired at most treatment facilities and to be able to do more in the field. This news was somewhat disconcerting to me, as I thought it would be easy to get a job after I graduated, but it bothered me even more for another reason. Apparently higher degree’s would be needed because they were “professionalizing the profession,” and it would no longer matter as much if someone like myself, a recovered alcoholic, already had years of experience helping people with addictions. I still worked hard in school though, and graduated with good grades. I also used the experience to grow and become more confident in myself. I wrote a post about this you can read called A Quiet Confidence.
After graduation, I applied for a counselor position at various places and kept hoping to land a job somewhere, but as the months ticked away, with no prospect of securing a job in my chosen field, I took one in sales. Although I had a lot of previous sales experience, being a salesman was never a passion for me, but it was nice earning a paycheck, and I viewed my situation as temporary.
Almost a year has passed since I took the job, and although I lived my life over that time as I always did; trying to stay in the moment, be happy, and not worry about stuff. I still felt like life was passing me by and that I wasn’t doing enough in my effort to help others. I also knew I wasn’t always being who I really was, and this made it harder to be happy. I did, of course, continue to love myself and still do, but not fully being who I really am is beginning to make it harder to be happy with me.
This June will be four years since I made the video below, my second dance video. I’m a little older now, and a little grayer, but my soul is telling me it’s soon time to do another one. My soul is also telling me I need to get into better shape first, so hopefully with more exercise I’ll be ready by then. I believe it’s important to be able to laugh at ourselves, which is what this, and a few other funny video’s I made represent. And I believe it’s also important to make people laugh and smile when we can. I have plans to do that and more of what has been in my heart to do long before I went to college; help a greater number of people with drug and alcohol problems. Actually, I want to help anyone struggling with fears and insecurities by showing them that we never need to feel ashamed about ourselves or our life, and that we have the power to change ourselves and our life for the better if we choose to.
My soul has been talking to me for a long time now, and I think I not only need to listen to it more, but to also start doing more. Part of this includes being who I was back when I made this video, but it will also require leaving my job and stepping out on faith. I know for some, it’s hard to believe in souls and that there may be something more than just this world. I too have my doubts at times. However, if the last few years have shown me anything, even with those doubts and ones I can still have in myself, trying to believe in more than just this world and in ourselves, can sustain us in times of uncertainty and discouragement.
At fifty-four years old, I’m closer to retirement than a career, but because I believe in education I still plan on obtaining a bachelor’s degree some day. For now, however, I have to maintain hope that by facing my fears and stepping out on faith, I will achieve my goal of reaching more people. I already know that when I try to be more of who I really am, a person who is perhaps best described by what I write on this website, I at least help people by simply being me.
“Some people say life is hard and has no meaning to it. Maybe life has no meaning except for the meaning we give it. I found that having a sense of purpose in our lives helps. I define this purpose as helping others. I’ve also found that by helping others, we help ourselves. In this sense, we’re all one. Life can seem hard at times. But if we use those times to grow stronger. And we use our experiences from those times to help others. We begin to see that life can be easier, and that it does indeed have meaning to it.”
I love to talk to people and truly care about what they have to say. I enjoy having deep discussions on various subjects, and I can get quite philosophical at times. However, some people don’t like to get into a heavy conversation about certain things and usually just stick to small talk. They may comment on the weather and ask you things like how you’re doing; where are you from, and do you have any children. Or they may just tell you what they think you need to know about them. Some people also brag and don’t really say anything meaningful, but this is all part of talking to people, so I don’t mind.
I can do the small talk because it can lead to a more meaningful conversation, but if it just continues with more pleasantries the whole thing seems phony to me. Not that people are being phony when they are involved in small talk; it just doesn’t seem real to me. I smile and play along, but what I really want to do is open the person up and hear about what’s going on in their lives. Maybe this is because I have never been good at small talk, and I have always been good at getting people to open up to me; sometimes without really even trying. I’ve had total strangers tell me some very personal things about themselves, and I know I helped them feel more comfortable by opening up about my own life.
Now some people just complain about their lives, and you can tell they’re not willing or ready to change their current circumstances, but there are people who want to talk about their problems in an effort to make a change in their lives. I never give anyone advice, but I do tell them about my personal experiences and why I like helping people. I also get emotional sometimes while doing so, and occasionally this can set some people back a bit, but I never apologize for it. I tell them I’m not ashamed to cry, and I like when I’m able to feel my emotions. I even thank them for bringing this out in me because it helps me to love who I am. This always seems to make the person feel more at ease with me and more comfortable, and they begin to open up even more.
Not everyone has problems in their lives, and not everyone needs to open up to a perfect stranger about things, so in that respect small talk is certainly fine. But there have been times when small talk turned into something more meaningful and much bigger than just pleasantries. The simple “hello how are you,” led to, “not so good today,” and allowed me to reach out to another human being; something that wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t ask, and if I didn’t truly care about what they had to say.
I’ve learned that I can’t be everything to everyone and that not everyone is going to like me. I want people to like me of course, but due to the level of spiritual and personal growth I’ve obtained over the years, I no longer need everyone to like me. I will say, however, that I wish I could be everything to everyone when it comes to helping others.
The truth is though, that some people don’t feel they need help or are too proud to ask for it. There are those who are dependent on drugs, but don’t think they have a problem. And people who act out in different ways to feel important about themselves who see nothing unusual about it. Then there are those who feel hopeless about certain situations in their lives who either thinks no one cares or that asking for help is a weakness. In my experience, it takes a lot of courage to ask for help and doing so actually makes us stronger.
As I said, I’ve learned I can’t be everything to everybody, and I also know I can’t save the world. But there are some things I can do. I can be an example of someone who tries to love others. Shows kindness toward people, even when I don’t want to. And at the very least, be an example of someone who tries to understand others and practice tolerance toward those I don’t like.
It’s through our actions and behaviors that we can show people there are those of us who still care about them in life, and give them something to believe in. I know this to be true because it’s how I’ve lived my life for some time now. Not perfectly mind you; I struggle some days to do the things I speak of here. But no matter when I fail or feel like it doesn’t matter, I never give up trying to love others. And if they allow me to, I never give up trying to help them find their way in life.