A few years ago, there was a young man who I supervised at work. He was intelligent and well spoken. But his performance wasn’t up to par. He was very much involved with union politics and tried to leverage it and any sort of loopholes attached to them to his advantage. He didn’t work very hard, and I had numerous run-ins with him about his lack of effort. Although he was a subordinate, he acted much differently. Now, I have dealt with this type of person in the past. In fact, I’ve dealt with much worse and I never really let it bother me before.
But this guy bothered me. I dreaded when he was on my shift. I sometimes went out of my way to avoid dealing with him. He was a thorn in many people’s side but it didn’t seem to disturb my colleagues as much as it did me. I let this guy rent space in my head for free (Scallywag! Barnacle! Moocher!) and I certainly took him home with me in my mind. I allowed him to attract my thoughts, my inner wrath, my muttered monologues. There was just something about this guy that was like a hair in my mouth that I couldn’t quite put my finger on and remove. A splinter in my spirit. I was newly sober at the time, I must add.
Now, I am a proponent of the whole “if you spot it, you got it” mentality. That is, when I find something disturbing about someone, it’s usually because there is something about them that I find unsettling about myself. It sounds twisted, but it’s often where I find the bone in the backyard and follow up with a big woof of delight and serenity soon follows suit. So that thing that drives me batty about someone is deep inside me too. It’s like two magnets of equal polarity trying to connect – it can’t as there is an internal and intrinsic pushing away of. A repelling of sorts.
So with this cat, it was easy to put him on my grudge list, my list of resentments. And damned if I couldn’t find out what it was of mine that he cut into. Talking about and thinking about and praying about what bee was getting in my bonnet (I like bonnets) got me nowhere. And for over a year (!) I could not get this dude out of my head. Even on vacation this guy would travel with me, like a gremlin stowaway, chewing me up from the inside out. Then the lad quit and I didn’t have to deal with him any more. He eventually faded out of my mind. But once in a while I would still wonder what it was that grabbed me about him.
Then the other day I was thinking about some stuff that was bubbling beneath my emotional cauldron. I was starting to see something in me that I never thought I was or had. And when I started to pull together the fragments in my mind about this, something clicked. Finally, the reason why this guy was in my head so much became clear.
He was a complainer. And a whiner.
And so was I.
And still am.
There it is. It was the fact that he pointed the finger at others, that he tried to remain blameless, that he raged against the machine of humanity was what really irked me. And that was because I did the same my entire life. And even these days, I have noticed that I have been complaining. A lot. So I want to register a complaint – against myself (or is that complaining again? I’ll get this right, believe me.) For complaining so much. Here on this blog and in real life.
It’s a hard thing to admit. It’s like when I realized that man, yeah, I am also lazy and I procrastinate. Never in a million years would I have checked that off the list of traits that I embodied or showed. Like everything else in my life, I had a construction of who I was and the way I presented myself to the world. I was a hard-working man who never uttered a single complaint or gossiped or spoke poorly of anyone.
The thing with taking inventory of one’s self is that we get to see past the fog of our own ego and get down to brass tacks. I got to see that I had a myriad of character defects that I never would have attributed to myself. It wasn’t until I put pen to paper was I able to get clarity on how I ran my life (into the ground) and how the stories of my life were, in so many ways, false. My life was constructed on lies that at the time seemed concrete, but were paper thin, as the winds of reality continually brought them down.
I’ve noticed the tone of my posts lately. I’ve seen how I have slowly come from a place of positivity and hope to the dungeons of drudgery and griping. Not that I have to sugar coat my life and my recovery. There are ups and downs and I am nudged to share them. But for me I see that I am going down a very familiar path and as far as I remember, it’s not a Disney ride. The bushes get thornier and the concrete turns to gravel and there are more mosquitoes down there , sucking the blood life force from me.
Mikey mentioned in one of his recent comments here that we can choose misery if we want. And I understand that. I’ve heard that said before and didn’t think it applied to me. Well, guess what? I’ve been choosing misery lately. I was going to write today about how hard this 4th year of recovery has been. But you know what? It isn’t. It really isn’t. It’s how I am choosing to view it. Once I take the complaining away and replace it with gratitude, well sweet swirling onion rings, things change in a heartbeat.
Complaining takes a backseat to gratitude. That’s the only place it can be, unless gratitude is removed. The simple fact is that I can choose what’s driving that bus. When I allow the Divine to drive, gratitude is the navigator. When I drive it, I have my rag-tag team of ne’er-do-wells along for the ride. So what do I choose here? I can continue my streak of misery, or I can make a quick pit stop and switch seats.
Switch seats it is. I get a better view too, and don’t have to worry about the directions.
Today I choose to not gripe and moan about stuff. I choose to live in the solution and not in the problem. I ask to have any resentments and fears removed by The Driver. I come into the day with an open heart and open mind. I choose to see the good, and not the negative in people, places and things. I choose to shut my trap when someone bemoans something and I naturally want to one-up them in the pain department. I choose love over fear.
In the final analysis, I may be powerless over alcohol, but I have power in everything else. I have power in how I react to things. I can’t control others, but I can control how I perceive and receive them. And that’s the glory of having Eyes Open. When my eyes are shut, I see what I want to see. I try to block it all out and block out the good as well. The only way my eyes remain open is if I choose to do the things that help me along that keep me spiritually fit. When I allow ego-centric things to take up my time, ego builds. And eyes start to shut.
We’ve all heard it before, but faith without works is dead. And when I don’t put in the effort to stay connected, when I decide that I am going to run the show, when I think it best to complain or gossip or get lazy, when I think my way is the best way, that’s when I start stashing more bones in the backyard. That’s when I disconnect and have a run of feeling dry and not recovered.
As they say in The Time Warp, “it’s a bit of a mind flip, you’re into a time slip, and nothing can ever be the same”. And that’s all it takes. A shift. A decision. A willingness to turn things around. Sometimes I can do it on a dime, sometimes it takes me a while. But in the grand scheme of things, it’s a new way of life. And I have to be kind to myself and remember that it’s not an overnight matter.
Thanks to everyone and have a wonderful 24 hours ahead of you.