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Alcoholic Induced Super Powers


As alcoholics we often dwell on the negative. Who can blame us, we have all caused a lot of havoc and pain in our lives and the lives of others. Even after fourteen years of sobriety I often look back and feel bad about my past. In fact, I’ve been doing it more and more as of late. With each sobriety anniversary I remember where I was years ago and instantly feel bad for the pain I caused. Anniversaries bring both happiness and regret, all wrapped in one.



Man and woman super hero.

I have had a lot of years to think about being an alcoholic, 14 years at the writing of this post. During the past 14 years there have been a few times that I’ve wondered if my alcoholism and recovery have in fact helped me. Could I now be a better version of myself? Recovery has given me many tools that have changed who I am and the way that I live my life. Although I’m now different, could these changes morph me into a better human? A better daughter, friend, employee, and parent. In a world where alcoholics and addicts are looked down on, I think it’s important that people see our strengths as well. Therefore, I’ve listed the below way that being an alcoholic has made me a better person. I like to refer to them super power alcoholics have.

Self-Aware:

I am extremely self-aware of my actions, regardless of if these actions are good or bad. By working through the twelve steps of alcoholics anonymously I have had to look at myself in the mirror and see what part I have played in my life. Guess what? I’ve played a very large part. In fact, I’ve been a major player in all of it. Whenever I have an argument, disagreement or a situation that makes me unhappy I’m able to stop and ask myself what role have I played? Was I stubborn, inconsiderate, or just plain mean? Was I scared and if so, did my fear cause me to act in an inappropriate way. Many times, even when I didn’t start the altercation, I participated in it longer than I needed to. By looking into the role, I played I can then make changes to my own actions and move forward. Do I need to apologize? Do I need to make my expectations clearer or lower them all together? By looking at the role I played I can free myself by changing myself. I can’t change anyone else in each scenario, but I can change myself, how I react and what I do. Guess what? After I make the proper adjustments, the situation gets better.

Empathy:

When I was actively drinking, I was very sick emotionally. When I got sober and started working the steps of AA, I was still sick, but I was on the road to recovery. As I worked on my program, I hoped that those around me could see how sick I had been. Therefore, when I get upset by someone else’s actions I have to remind myself that they are just as spiritually and emotionally unhealthy as I was. Over the last number of years, I’ve also learned that you don’t have to be an alcoholic to be emotionally unwell. When I look at others in this way it allows me to be empathetic to them and pray for their health. I truly hope that they get better. Why wouldn’t I? If they are able to heal whatever is going on with themselves, it can only make our interactions better. This doesn’t mean that I have to like the way they are treating me or go along with their actions. But it does allow me to view them in a different light and feel empathy for them and the situation that they are in. By remembering how sick I was and how many people treated me with kindness, I’m able to view others as sick themselves and therefore treat them with the kindness that was allotted to me.


Humility:

This superpower is a bit of a hard one to write about because writing about how humble I am is a contradiction in terms. How can I say I have learned humility and see myself as insignificant when I’m writing about myself? The best thing I can say and the easiest way to express this is that recovery has taught me that I am nobody. This is not to say that I’m not important, but I have changed my perception from everything being about me to understanding that nothing is about me. The way a person reacts to me, or any situation that I’m in rarely has anything to do with me. As the Big Book says, “On that basis we are almost always in collision with something or somebody, even though our motives are good. Most people try to live by self-propulsion. Each person is like an actor who wants to run the whole show; is forever trying to arrange the lights, the ballet, the scenery, and the rest of the players in his own way. If his arrangements would only stay put, if only people would do as he wished, the show would be great. Everybody, including himself, would be pleased. Life would be wonderful.”. (Bill, 2002) In recovery I’ve learned that I must give up my will. I have to understand that I am nothing and that as life happens around me, I must not try to change it to what I believe is right.

I feel very uncomfortable when people praise me for things. It’s not because I don’t believe feel good about my accomplishments, I do. However, if I start to pat myself on the back, rest on my laurels or relax into the fruits of my labor it’s in my nature to become complacent in all aspects of my life and to be complacent for an alcoholic is to die. Being humble may seem uncomfortable or even be annoying to others. But I’m learning to embrace it.

Humility, Empathy & Self-Awareness are only 3 of what I like to call my superpowers. Superpowers that were given to me by being an alcoholic that is in recovery. I often think about how the world would be different if all people could embrace these three things. Would the tyrants who wage wars be able to face themselves when looking in the mirror? Would the boss at the office feel differently towards her fellow employees if she was able to hear the tone she used in a meeting or the sigh in her voice when addressing her subordinates? Personally, I believe that the world could change.

For all the times I feel bad about my disease and the pain it has caused for not only those who knew me while I was actively drinking but also myself, I also am learning to be thankful for it. I’m learning to be thankful for the blood that runs in my veins, even though it is diseased, for without it I would not be this version of myself. Without alcoholism and recovery, I would not be able to look in the mirror and move forward, nor would I be able to feel for and love those whom the average person deems unfit. For I myself was one of the most undeserving of all. Most importantly I wouldn’t be able to stop asserting my will into everything and everyone around me. It feels good to know I am merely a pawn in the great game of chess we call life. For that I could not be more grateful.


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Image by Tim Mossholder

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