It is amazing the number of ways I could say “no”.
When I was drinking, it seemed incomprehensible that I could not know things. I was a smart guy, I knew stuff. Good, funny, brain blowing stuff. I was learn-ed. So to suggest that perhaps I could learn something or see things in a different light was laughable, nay, insulting. I wouldn’t say ego was present, it was devastating – breathing fire, stomping on buildings and making people run out onto the streets. Everyone wanted to get away from me. There is nothing worse than a know-it-all who doesn’t seem to know much.
Now it wasn’t so much that I wanted to admit that I didn’t know it all (ok, maybe), but I didn’t want to admit that I didn’t know about what I didn’t know. So if you were to start a sentence with “Hey, you wanna check out –” – “No”. “I heard there’s this really good –” “No”. “You want to try –” – “Hell no”. I couldn’t open myself up to anything outside the realm of what I knew, and hence, what I was comfortable with. The only problem with this is that my world got smaller by the day. The more I drank, the more I denied, the more I lied, the more I feared, the more drama I created and hid from, the more I tried to play God and failed, the smaller my comfort zone became. And of course I became more entrenched and staunch in my egotistical and egocentric view that I still had all the answers.
I shut you down because my mind was shut off. I didn’t want you to see that I was stuck in a place of ego and fear (bad combination, by the way) – I couldn’t see that perhaps there was something, anything, that I did not know of that could actually be useful to me. If I didn’t know about it, it didn’t exist. That might be good for you, I might say, but that’s not for me. I have all I need and it’s serving me well. I was asleep to the fact that I was useless to myself and others. My ego imprisoned me, and pride made sure I stayed there in lock-down. “Contempt prior to investigation”, probably one of my favourite lines in the big book (sorry Bill W.), sums this up for this alcoholic…and most likely for all alcoholics. Our contempt is fear based, pure and simple. At least mine was. It wasn’t until my life finally crumbled, and I had no choice but to step into a big unknown. Then into lots and lots of smaller unknowns. Then big ones. And so it goes. Plunging headlong into things I would have easily dismissed is only because of my connection with God, and following the spiritual principles of AA. This radical shift for me has given me new perspective in how I approach life. It opens me up to things that may branch off into other things. I find joy in my fear of the unknown. I find joy period. And that is something that didn’t come easy for this alkie.
I pray every morning that I go into this world with an open heart and an open mind. Contempt prior to investigation is an old thought, an old way. It didn’t serve me then, and it certainly doesn’t serve me now. Does it pop up sometimes? Of course it does. But I just pause, mentally skip over the “no” in my mind, and breathe.
“Let me think about it”