(the first post in this series is here: On Being a Social Outcast )
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BEFORE YOU READ THIS, I HAVE TO SAY SOMETHING:
As most of you who read this blog know by now, I am in the process of releasing all my addictions and obsessions. If anyone here wants to take a stab at doing this, I believe that a firm hold on sobriety is necessary first before making this attempt. I don’t think it’s for those who are still unsteady on their feet from recently having let go of their primary addiction. For me, it’s been 34 years of only alcohol abstinence; ‘Easy Does It’… ‘First Things First’… ‘Think it Through’… ‘Live and Let Live’… ‘One Day (or moment) at a Time’… and working the Steps. Please be cautious if trying go the ‘no addiction/obsession’ route while you’re still struggling to stay sober because it can possibly introduce enormous amounts of stress and pain into your life. It took me a very long time to even take a stab at it. I’ve been praying for the strength to take this on for the last 30 years.
I was reading an article called: AA’s Sermon on the Mount when these words by Emmett Fox struck home. Many AA people subscribe to this man’s point of view.
In “The Sermon on the Mount“ , Fox writes…
The forgiveness of is the central problem of life.… When you hold resentment against anyone, you are bound to that person by a cosmic link, a real, tough metal chain. You are tied by a cosmic tie to the thing that you hate. The one person perhaps in the whole world whom you most dislike is the very one to whom you are attaching yourself by a hook that is stronger than steel
First of all I want to make this very plain. I do not see myself as a victim any longer. These are just observations I’m using to help me with my recovery. On top of alcoholism, I have experienced copious amounts of child abuse and learned to resent, or hate, myself horribly as a result. Not everyone who is alcoholic has had to endure child abuse to become self-resenters, but I firmly believe that the child-abused alcoholic has a huge potential for self-resentment coming from this. This has not been addressed as a crucial aspect to finding out “The exact nature of our wrongs — or : the exact nature of what’s wrong with me.” (Big Book Step 5; pg 59) However, as for myself, it was from the abuse that this huge amount of self-hatred flowered in me, and sobriety just served to bring the self-hatred closer to the surface – in spades.
Now here’s what I want to say about this quote.
If I do not forgive myself I can not stop being self-centered. Just like being tied to another through resentment, if I do not let go of my severe self-resentment, I will also be tied to myself “with a hook stronger than steel”. This is not the reason for all us alcoholic’s self-centeredness, but it is the root of my own. Maybe letting go of self-resentment is in the Big Book. If it is, can someone please point it out to me? If it isn’t, might the AA’s founders have missed this important aspect of forgiveness for some of us? I do not know for sure – maybe they didn’t think about it because they didn’t have to struggle with this sort of thing as much as I have struggled with it.
But exactly how do I forgive myself? For me, since the self-hatred stuck to me like Gorilla Glue, it’s been very, very difficult. Firstly, I didn’t even know it was my worst, and most painful, character defect. Secondly, I didn’t know it was ever possible to be relieved of it. But I am here to say that, through the process of relinquishing all addictions or obsessions… IT CAN BE DONE!! Besides a therapist — who I talk to only sparingly — I do not think I’m running to any earthly thing for answers to problems and pains that come my way. To solve these problems and pains, I am doing my utmost to turn only to God. Doing this has propelled me like a bullet toward relinquishing self-hatred and replacing it with self-forgiveness. Since I began not addicting or obsessing, I can no longer afford to hate myself. It is just too painful to continue this behavior. It became imperative that I give it up.
Speaking of the futility and unhappiness in a life which includes deep resentment, the Big Book states (pg: 66)
… with the alcoholic … the business of resentment is infinitely grave…. For when harboring such feelings we shut ourselves off from the sunlight of the Spirit.
Experiencing “the sunlight of the spirit” is also something I believe to be a necessity in order to end self-resentment and thus self-centeredness. I was lucky in this regard. During my 2nd year sober I had an experience which helped me to know deeply this “sunlight of the spirit.” Not drinking resulted in such intense agony that it tore my mind open to being able to see and hear things that were impossible for me to see and hear before…. like a profound sense of the truth of God’s perfect love for me. There’s an AA saying; “Don’t quit 5 minutes before the miracle.” I believe I got my miracle through enduring excruciating pain while getting and staying sober. For me, simply letting go of the booze was painful enough to get this awareness of His love. I didn’t have to go to the extreme of releasing all addictions and obsessions at that point. But for some, releasing all addictions and obsessions might produce what is necessary to pave the way toward getting the miracle… which is to gain a powerful sensation of a deeply loving relationship with their Higher Power.
But lastly, there’s another way one might look at this problem of self-resentment leading to self-centeredness.
Maybe this self-forgiveness – and the sense of having God’s deep, deep love – can be done without resorting to such drastic measures as I have had to do. There could very well be an easier way to get to this place, but I really don’t have an answer to that. I only know that this is what I am doing that’s achieving it. And I didn’t even plan for all this to happen the way it has. This is a story that’s writing itself. I am not the author. All I’m doing is not running to anything but God. Like the Big Book says;
God could and would if He were sought.
I really want to hear what you guy’s thoughts are about this. I feel like I’m just a babe in the woods here. I’m sure there are many avenues that lead to overcoming self-centeredness as well as developing self-forgiveness. I’m just addressing one way of handling them.
(To go to the next post in this series: “More Problems… Damn It: click HERE )