Day 157: Leave Your Look-Good At Home

The real me.

It’s just another one of the gifts of recovery. Discovering something within myself that I’m not sure I knew was there. An integral piece of becoming who I’m supposed to be. My thoughts, my opinion, without self censorship or judgement. My voice.

As an addict and a people-pleaser, I manipulated a lot of things to make them look good, make them sound good. It was part of the act. A standard trick. Tell everyone what they want to hear, how they want to hear it, and avoid problems. I carried that belief into the beginning stages of my recovery too. Make it look good. On paper, in AA shares, in group sessions in treatment. Just make it look good.

I’ve heard the statement ‘Leave your look good at home’ in lots of AA meetings. And, I misunderstood it. I thought it was about vanity. Physical looks. Appearing put together. But, I missed the point completely. As I spoke my mind in my mediation group today in treatment, I realized I was being completely honest, and, people didn’t really like what I was saying. They didn’t agree with me. I didn’t, well, look good. And, as I continued on with my statement, I realized I didn’t care. After I got out of group, I felt like a new person. The old version of me would never have put her cards on the table like that. She never would have tolerated the suspicious and contemptuous looks that I received. But, this new woman, this skin that I’m finally starting to fit into, she’s leaving her look-good at home. I said what I needed to say. Critics be damned.

I’ve spent so much of my life trying to manage other people’s feelings. How will they deal with this? How can I make this easier, better, lighter for them? It never seemed to go as planned. My strategy of fixing the outside, or at least appearing to, never really got to the core of the issue. I didn’t help anyone else, or myself, by slapping the wrong label on the outside of the box. Eventually, the box gets opened. And, it didn’t matter how painstakingly I’d managed make the facade look good. The box contains what it contains. So, label appropriately.

Today, it’s a lot easier to see that the world won’t end if I displease someone. I’m not a bad person as long as I’m being true to myself. And, if I’m genuine, and that rubs someone the wrong way, it stands that maybe that person and I weren’t meant to be in cahoots. If I paint someone a pretty picture, that’s about all the substance there is, two dimensions that hang on a wall, nice to look at but not much to sink your teeth into, no meat and gristle. Better to tell someone the grainy, fuzzy, and sometimes unpleasant truth.

I’m still nervous about putting my truth out there. It’s not something I’m used to or even comfortable with yet. But, I can see it’s value now. I can see how just appearing a certain way doesn’t help me at all. If I’m to move forward, in any sense of the word, I’ve got to be me. The bright spots and the dark.

I’m not a perfect person. I can’t be. It’s been a long hard road that I’ve walked, only to find out that I can never meet the high standards I’ve set for myself. So, I have to reset. I have to resign myself to the wonderful fact that being myself, in the truest sense of the word, is as close to perfect as I’m going to get.

And, these days, it looks good on me.

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