As an alcoholic, and heck, as a person, I’ve always had trouble speaking up.
I’m a people pleaser. In theory, it’s a nice thing, but when it gets down to the nitty gritty, it’s a pretty destructive trait. Ultimately, if you’re busy making everyone else happy, you overlook what you need and end up unhappy. And, that doesn’t help anyone really.
It’s a hard concept to wrap your head around, putting yourself first in order to be willing and able to help others. But, it’s a worthy undertaking. What’s truly great about AA is, in working the steps you learn to, as they say to “clean your side of the street.” And, once you’re all good, then you can go on to help others. But, until then, you’re really not helping anyone.
Growing up amidst a plethora of Catholic guilt, I’m all too familiar with the idea of women bending and leaning, doing everything they can to make sure that others are taken care of before they’ve taken care of themselves. Taking care of yourself is so often confused with be selfish. Putting yourself before some one else? Unthinkable!
In recovery, one of the toughest things to put into practice has been to own my life and plans. Before all else. If I don’t, I end up resenting all sorts of people. Lovers, parents, bosses, co-workers, friends, the list goes on. Feeling that someone’s needs have always come before mine, it’s tough to get into the routine of answering to myself, and not worrying what all those people think of me and how they may judge me.
Frankly, it takes balls. Big ones.
Being honest with others, and more importantly, myself, is a fucking tough nut to crack.
So, I’m doing my best to grow a pair.
I took myself to a ballet class, where I more or less embarrassed the shit out of myself. It’d been so long since I last danced. I was a disaster. My first inclination was that the teacher thought I sucked, and that I should never return. And then, I put my AA theology into practice. I had gone to that class for me. If I sucked, who should care but me? I had done something I was afraid to do, and made it through it. And, when all was said and done, I wish I’d done better, but, there’s always next time. Suddenly, I didn’t care how much the teacher thought I sucked, or even if the the students were looking at me with a critical and judgmental eye.
I paid for the fucking class. I did my best. That’s all I can do. So, I’m going to go back. It can’t be WORSE than the last class. So, what’s the big deal?
Putting myself out there, first and foremost, is super scary. But, once it’s in the bag, it’s not nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be. And that seems to be going for everything these days. Being honest with my rehab group, in AA shares, with my sponsor, even in conversations with my parents on the phone.
Sometimes you’re going to be yourself and someone else isn’t going to like it. It’s going to make them upset or uncomfortable.
Well, to that I say: tough shit. Tell ’em to grow a pair. I’m keeping my side of the street clean and tidy.