Just another traveler on life’s highway, hanging out in the slow lane. It’s quiet, it’s peaceful; beyond the horizon is rest calling my name. Green pastures, still waters, my cup overflows.
“….So false pride became the reverse side of the ruinous coin marked ‘FEAR’. We simply had to cover up our deep-lying inferiorities.” AS BILL SEES IT, Bill Wilson, pg. 46
Often, I have heard “fear” defined as the absence of love. In acts of unconditional compassion and love, there is no thought given to the “what if” moment. What if this person is scamming me, what if that homeless man intends to harm me, what if my spouse is cheating on me, what if I lose my life trying to help my friend, etc.? The list of “what ifs” can be endless. They will control who I am and undermine my commitment to be fearless and thorough in all my actions. Fear will always keep me from realizing my full potential as a person in recovery.
In addition to concerns about physical safety, which are healthy in certain situations involving the unknown intentions of people I encounter, fear has always been a tool used to hide my deep-lying inferiorities. Having endured bullying at the hands of “the big kids” in junior high school, I convinced myself that, yes, the names those boys used were accurate. I was everything they called me and I was inferior to “normal” guys. I learned how to fend for myself, not by fighting back which would be against the faith in which my family raised me, but by justifying the self-hatred growing inside me. I deserved their attacks because I was ugly, I was stupid, I was a coward.
My driving response to life became fear. Fear that friends would not like me if they saw that which I saw inside of me. I despised myself and therefore expected others would also feel that way when they came to know the “real” me. I learned very effectively to present a persona completely contrary to the insecure man into whom I had grown. Alcohol aided that deception tremendously. Under the control of my demon, I eventually believed the lies I portrayed about myself. Honesty was replaced by justified lying.
Fear, fueled by alcohol, led me into a life of torturing self-doubt and an inability to form any semblance of intimacy with another person. When that possible mate reached a point which required absolute commitment, Larry bailed out. My fear refused to accept that any other person could love me unconditionally. How could they? I certainly could not love me because I despised whom I was. How could anyone love me?
Fear, consoled by alcohol, took me to a place where the walls were high and the moat was filled with emotional tools to protect myself from the intrusions of life. I refused to participate in those events which brought joy and camaraderie to other people. I convinced myself that they did not truly want me to be a part of their lives. I resorted to my indwelling unworthiness to seclude and detach. My concept of happiness was living in a cave of a cliff-side monastery baking bread and meditating on the meaning of life.
Fear, having consumed every second of life, finally brought me to a personal ultimatum. It said to me, “You are worthless, you are useless, you are a failure, you should probably die.”
The absence of self-love in my existence was preparing the final victory for fear. It was a demoralizing moment in an alcoholic’s life. My constant companion, alcohol, had taken me to a place where human determination and self-will could no longer hide me. There were no more places where I could run and continue life.
So, when I remember and when I tell others about the miraculous intervention of a Higher Power at that point in this alcoholic’s life, I joyously give all the credit to a God and a fellowship which loved me more than I had ever been able to love myself. And guess what? That love eventually rubbed off on me. From my deepest insecurities flowed a healthy self-awareness of whom I really was. From the self-loathing came an appreciation for the person God had discovered within me. From the loneliness of a self-imposed cave on a cliff-side sprung a home among millions of brothers and sisters who had also been saved from lives of despair and worthlessness.
“Create in me a clean heart, O Lord, and renew a right Spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10
It required a thorough, internal house-cleaning and a complete restoration to bring the demon alcohol into submission and defeat. The praise and the victory belong to a commitment to sober-living, the power of God as I understand God, and the fellowship of like-minded survivors. If you are sober today, give yourself a hand.