I joined a Facebook group for people with thyroid diseases last night and have already asked three questions which made it quite clear that I’m totally new to this whole T4, T3 thing. Many kind people have been answering my questions, sharing their experience and pointing me in the right direction in very kind and loving manners.
I’m so grateful that I’m in enough pain to not care about being a newcomer. I’m open and teachable and if I look like a total tool so be it.
I actually wish I was that open when I was a newcomer in the 12-step program I belong to, instead I opted to do it my way until I ended up in so much pain from untreated alcoholism that my choices were to either surrender or drink again.
Thankfully, I surrendered.
Now I’m not exactly an oldtimer – I’m pretty sure one needs to be sober over 20 years to really earn that title – but I have been doing this whole sober thing for over 14 years and have helped many people get and stay sober in that time.
My personal experience with drinking and sobriety places me in a position to be of maximum service to someone who wants to stop, but I have to admit that I don’t find sobriety to be as interesting as I did in the early days. I was on fire for years, rescuing and saving people from the insanity of addiction, but since having such debilitating mental and physical health issues of my own, it just hasn’t felt as important as it did when I was on the front lines.
My ego would like to let you know that I know how bad that sounds and that I understand that alcoholism is always my problem and will really be my problem if my mind gets sick enough to tell my arms to pick up a drink and put it to my lips.
This evening I had the privilege to speak to a young man who wants to quit drinking and using. I use the word privilege because I’m writing this after the fact. It is very rare that I want to be of service when the call comes. I’ve been known to feel inconvenienced and annoyed, more than grateful and excited to share my experience, strength and hope.
After I got off the phone, I was overcome with that feeling of usefulness. That feeling of purpose. The feeling that if all I do in this lifetime is help one person out of the pit of despair, my time on the planet hasn’t been wasted.
The feeling doesn’t last very long, but it’s also not contingent on that man getting or staying sober. I did my part and I did it well. I asked the right questions, wasn’t dogmatic, shared a bit of my past so he knew that I know, I didn’t lecture or criticize.
I’ve learned all of this through trial and error, error and trial, error and error.
I woke up new and now I go to bed old. I hope to always be new and old – to always be teachable and to always use my knowledge and experience to help others back up.
Because if I think I know everything, I’m wrong. And if I go into a group of people asking for help, I better be prepared to give back what I’m being given.
Because what would my world look like if, when I walked into that church basement for my first 12-step meeting, no one was there? Or what if it was all newcomers? What if no one was there to hold up the flashlight in the darkness of my alcoholism?
I’d be dead.
I was told a long time ago that service is gratitude in action. It’s a great reminder to keep giving back because I am grateful. I’m grateful for my sobriety and my life, and I truly believe that I have to give it away in order to keep it.
May we always be teachable and may we always give back.
Rest in peace, you beautiful soul.