Linked, Within


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Slow down there, Timmy.  Keep that grip handy.  You’ll need it.

 

I’m on LinkedIn.  For those who aren’t familiar with it, it’s a sort of Facebook for professionals.  I’m not very active on it, but it seems to keep my email busy, as I get several notifications a day telling me that someone has linked to me, or joined my circle of pros.  And sometimes they even “endorse” me, which is silly, as most people who endorse one of my skills have never even worked with me, let alone validate my superior abilities to a group of unknowns.  It’s like high-fiving a one-armed man – a pointless exercise (unless you high-five his available hand, but you know where I am going with this poor simile). It’s clear they endorse me to get an endorsement in return, a sort of modem-to-modem mutual admiration society.   Not interested.

Now, the only reason I bring up LinkedIn is that there is something that is both fascinating and creepy that happens when you mess about with it (or when it messes about with you). There is a little game that LinkedIn likes to play, and it’s called “Hey, if you know these folks, you might know these guys.”  And then when you are crazy or bored enough to play the game, you are shown a list of faces and names that you really do know.  It’s some sort of six-degrees-of-Kevin-Bacon separation mojo magic that the interweb goblins conjure up and slap you with. It’s like they’ve pulled out the Wand of Voodoo and post mug after mug of people that once crossed your path. It’s strange.  Like they got into the musical of your life and published the program of it, understudies and all.  All there in glorious colour. And hey, I have even seen some of you, my sober blogger friend, pop up…full name and place of work.  But don’t worry, your secret and anonymity are safe with me.  Shhhhhh….

Don't start with me, dude.  This didn't go well last time...

Don’t start with me, dude. This didn’t go well last time…

I sometimes entertain this walk down memory lane.  Unlike Facebook, where you would get high school or even grade school past besties and beasties, LinkedIn is all work.  All business.  And for me, that’s been a problem.  You see, most of my harms were work-related.  I’d say that 80% of my amends were to those I worked with or for.  I owed some places money, but for the most part, I needed to make things right with a lot of folks I used to work alongside.  Bosses, colleagues, staff…I have had to make amends to many.  I still have a few outstanding.  Work was where my alcoholism reared its ugly head.  Work is where it played out often. Work is where I both hid it and didn’t hide it.  Work was both a prison and a playground.  I was at my best and worst at work.

Where I was once a great and proud employee throughout the years, my alcoholism brought me to a place where my reputation started to get tarnished.  Where I once operated at nearly 100% effort given and sacrifice taken, I was at best a 10% employee by the end.  I never lasted more than two or so years in one place.  My industry is transitory in nature, but in comparison  to many, I still jumped around a lot. Mini-geographicals, if you will.  Trying to get away from me, while I was a stowaway to my own undoing.  Where people once depended on me, they were worried about me. They didn’t know what to do with me, how to help me.  I realize now that some of those who got angry at me and said hurtful things to me were concerned and didn’t know how to express themselves.  There were some disappointed folks, and I now understand that they cared about me.

Story of my life.

My story, in one picture.

So the other day as I scrolled down this who’s-who of my not-so-golden past, I started to think back at the hurts and harms I caused some of these folks.  I thought of how they just came to work to do their thing, with concerns of my own, and had to deal with a crazy dude like me.  I can’t imagine I would have nearly the amount of patience and compassion that many of them showed me.  I felt a lot of gratitude as I perused past the ageing and changing faces of these people I once stood shoulder-to-shoulder with.  Whereas a few years ago I would have felt anger and resentment, I felt a calmness.  Whereas a few years ago I would have shut the phone off in embarrassment and would have been ashamed, I felt a warm glow of humanity.  These folks are just living their lives, trying to improve themselves, reaching out to guys like me to stay connected to.

The biggest surprise I have gotten are from those who I harmed in the past, and yet reached out to me first.  I know that some of these guys felt that I didn’t need to make amends to them.  They told me so.  I still made some of those amends.  Some of these guys and I had emotional, tear-filled conversations in my amends to them.  Some of them thought that I wanted to meet them to punch them out or curse them, when really I wanted to tell them that I wronged them and wanted to know what I could do to make it right.  It’s amazing the reaction I have had to all my amends to these people.  What kindness I found out there.  It showed me that I was completely and utterly wrong about people.  And I am still wrong at times. There’s love in them there hills.

Resentments...it's people!! It's people I tell you!!

Resentments…it’s people!! It’s people I tell you!!  Tasty, tasty people!!

As I rolled past people from the old days, I had one overwhelming thought – that I wished them well.  I never would have thought that in the past.  I was too wrapped up in ego and pride, in anger and hurt, resentment and the wanting of getting in the last (spiteful) word.  It’s not that I would have some sort of relationship (professional / friendship) with them now, but I wouldn’t be closed to the idea if something came up.  But I know that many of those folks will remain in the background.  And happily so.  Making amends doesn’t mean that I am ready to hop on the horse and start riding into the sunset with others.  It’s just to make things right and to release the hounds of forgiveness and resentment.  It’s about cleaning up my side of the street.  Regardless of their reactions, the fact that I did my best means that I take myself off the hook, so to speak.  But I have yet to find a reaction that hasn’t been surprising and endearing.

I can’t change my past.  I am not sure what these folks think of me or what has been said behind closed door and closed hands over ears, but it’s none of my business.  I might have been the crazy drunk boss, or the pain-in-the-ass employee or the sad-and-pitiful comrade, but that isn’t me now.  These folks aren’t thinking of me.  They are living their lives – getting married, having kids, getting promoted, opening their own businesses, changing careers, falling in love.  Their images and avatars on my screen are only images that I decide how to react to.  They can either be reminders of past pains, or windows into people who came into my life for a reason. People who showed me compassion and empathy. People I harboured anger against because they had something in them that I couldn’t stand about myself.  They all brought me clarity, in a kind of way,  after I did the work in pinpointing their roles in my life.

I hope her spray tan consultant makes amends to this young lady...

I would certainly endorse this young lady for “spray tan abuse” and “trying too hard”.

Like everyone else who has entered my life, I am linked to all these guys in a deeper way.  They may never know it, though.  I stepped on these people’s toes and they retaliated.  Who wouldn’t in the states I found myself in? Hey, one of these very guys is in my recovery circle now.  I met one of my old employees, a guy I used to drink with, in the rooms of AA about a year ago.  We still talk and hit meetings and go for coffee.  He struggles with doing the work.  He still holds anger and resentment.  I can only offer my support and my own experience.  It shows me the value of releasing and letting go of that which doesn’t serve me.  I am linked to a great power than myself and that has given me the direction and nudgings in my life that bring me to a place of peace and serenity.  I am linked to a power that shows Himself to me in those that I meet, or those who I have met earlier in my life.    He shows me His love in the eyes of those who flash past me on my tiny phone screen, or the man or woman sitting across from me on the street or church basement.

I have a long ways to go in terms of growth, but noticing my reaction to these faces from the past brought me a measure of peace.  It showed me that the path that I am on, the path that others have kindly helped me along, is one I need to be on.  My serenity, and life even, depends on this.  We are all linked, in one form or another, in fellowship and in humanity. And for that, I am grateful.

Thank you for being here.

wish youwell

 

53 responses to “Linked, Within

  1. OK PAUL,…..Let me give your first Marketing Lesson 101…Don’t be bagging on one of my favorite author, book and blog/website media sites!….LOL. There is a huge load of peeps there in, work in, addiction and recovery area’s. There are also fantastic readers, writers, bloggers groups there as well.

    For me, a person in recovery, it’s a way I build trust with others, because as we know in recovery, there is much stigma floating around about “people in recovery” not being trust-worthy, well, just the uninformed people who choose to be ignorant. HA HA!

    Why I prefer LinkedIn over Facebook ANYDAY is that when you meet people and connect there, at least you know they are not SPAMBOTS…..Most the time! I have made really good contacts & recovery friends there too 🙂
    It helps me build a bigger exposure for my book, and my many book promo clients. You can share all your blog posts there, and more!
    Did you know I’m doing Book & Media promo’s? On my other Fab WordPress site: Lyon Media & Book Promotions!
    http://anAuthorandWriterinProgress.wordpress.com

    I know,….Shameless Plug!
    Hugs & Blessings my good friend,
    *Cat* (Catherine) 🙂 XoXo

    • Hi Cat,

      I didn’t intend to be bashing anything. I was using LinkedIn merely as a way to get to my point across about gratitude, letting go and resentments. I could have used anything, really. It wasn’t the point of the post. It’s nothing to do with the platform – it’s about the people that I ran into on it and my reactions to them.

      Good luck with the book, Cat.

      Paul

      • Now you know I was just joking a bit? I knew you weren’t bashing…..And yes, the peeps on many can be a little ‘different’….lol

        It’s kind of like the one’s on Twitter who advertise to pay for follows…WHAT? When they follow me, I tweet back one message…….I don’t PAY for tweet followers, and my friends are all 100% Organic Follows. HOW? It’s called interacting with people!

        Get to know who you follow and interact, like you and I do, then you don’t have to pay for GOOD Tweet Pals like my buddy Paul! XoXo
        Hugs & Blessings 🙂 🙂
        *Cat*

  2. This is a great post (as usual) Paul! It touched me in many ways, it shows that you are at peace with yourself and who you are, you have the courage to own your past instead of excusing and ignoring it. Your integrity allows you to admit your mistakes and effects you have had on other people in the past. You are simply, a beautiful soul. *hugs*

    • Awww, thank you, Doctor. I do my best, and sometimes I am not so gracious and accepting…ha ha. But I have learned that harbouring grudges for oh so many years just wore me down and fuelled my drinking. Deep down, no one wants to feel that way. We weren’t meant to be hateful, spiteful people, even if we act that way occasionally. My letting go may seem altruistic, but it’s really to help me in many ways, to stay with serenity and wear the world as a loose garment.

      Thank you for your kind comments…I am glad your kind soul came to visit 🙂

      Paul

  3. Paul, how wonderful that you were able to forgive, make amends and let go of past anger. It’s one of the hardest things. It’s easy to lose perspective – like you said, these people are just going about their lives. And how great the reactions you’ve received after getting in touch again. I stand in admiration. xx

    • Thank you so kindly, Nadia. So glad to see you here! You know, it does seem hard, and I had some people say that I had balls coming to them after all those years, ha ha, but humility is something that I had to get beaten into my head (still need to) so that I could approach these folks. If I come to someone with a chip on my shoulder still or with the hope that they will apologize to me for some fancied slight, then I blow the deal! But I am still very surprised and humbled by the graciousness of those folks. And folks like you here 🙂

      Blessings,
      Paul

  4. For some crazy reason I have a linkin page too! and it has crossed my path a few times in past few days. I have never been a professional anything. not in the sense of what that site is about.
    Paul your humor in all of this is refreshing when our recovery process is a very serious life changing experience. Anger, resentment, and darn right ignorance on our part are road blocks for sure. Finding the peace and serenity within humanity is an amazing heart opening vision of reality. Where our drinking drunk mind and spirit blamed others found fault in everyone the clarity arrives when we get out of our own way. People really do so up when we are linked within !

    • Thank you Jeff for the kind words and encouraging thoughts! I try to use Rule #62 around here. Keeps it from getting too heavy. I take recovery serious, but not myself so much (and when I do, I have people who tell me so). The idea of getting out of our own way is a calming and sometimes frightening venture…but when I do (out ego, out!), things seem to happen in the *right* way. His way.

      Thanks for being a part of my recovery, Jeff. Glad our paths have crossed.

      Blessings,
      Paul

  5. What a liberating feeling…to think about those in your past and feel in your heart (and gut) that you “wish them well.” I know that feeling! It’s whispered in your brain, felt in your heart and exhaled with the breath that leaves your lungs. So good!
    I just love everything you’ve been writing, Paul. You have the unique ability to keep an audience engaged with poignancy and perfectly timed and inserted humor. You rock! xo

    • True on the liberating front there, Michelle. I am not often malicious in my ways these days. It’s just wasted emotion and actions that will only serve to shoot me in the foot, emotionally and otherwise. Sometimes that requires restraint of tongue and pen…something I am not always successful with. 🙂

      Thanks for your kind words here and on The Twitter. You are quite the rock star yourself 🙂

      Blessings and have a wonderful weekend 🙂

      Paul

    • I actually don’t mind some of the connections I have. I have found some old comrades that way, and even seen how they moved on (and have messaged them too). What I find strange are those people who are in completely different industries who know me not and still want to connect…and then endorse me. Madness! lol

    • Thank you TD. That’s part of the work we do – seek these folks out and make the approach. There are different ways of approaching folks, and in some cases, we are advised to make amends in other ways. Sometimes opening up old wounds just makes things worse, or when we try to unburden ourselves at the expense of someone else…not cool 🙂

      Thanks for being here, brother.

      Paul

  6. Thanks for the good literature. I am moving back to live with the active drinker and praying for program spirit Xxx

    • I am so sorry that you are with the active drinker. I don’t suppose there is a way of not doing it? It can be quite a painful when we are engaged with an active drinker. Frankly, I don’t know how my poor wife dealt with it all, or my folks, etc. I wouldn’t have the patience, ironically enough. But there are saints out there. I hope that your situation improves, Lou. May God bless you and the AD. My prayers out to you.

      Paul

      • Thank you Paul, not sure it will be serene but won’t wait another 30 years to find out. We will sell our home and divorce i figure, if he doesn’t find out how to stop. I have been separated from him for 3 years but it is hard to always be alone it seems. xxx

  7. Cool post Paul. Yeah, those lists of faces on LinkedIn are odd aren’t they? When you find someone by searching and then want to connect, LinkedIn is quite stern, asking how you know them and what their e-mail address is or it won’t let you link. They say it is to protect people’s privacy from unwanted and useless connections. Then they will arbitrarily send these great lists of people many of whom, as you said, you met somewhere and offers to connect you with them. I guess LinkedIn wouldn’t be much use if they didn’t let people connect.

    All that aside, it’s great that you can look at these people, some of whom you’ve treated poorly, and feel comfortable and at peace. And see them for themselves rather than as a part of their relationship with you. There are some in my life that I cannot do that with and likely never will – and I haven’t been through the struggles that you have.

    Congrats Paul, sounds like you are well along the path of healing.

    • Hi Paul – so glad you made your way here – I always enjoy your thoughts on all matters, and you have certainly continued that with your comments here.

      It is quite peculiar how LinkedIn works, but I supppose it works in many ways. Some truly do network with it, but for most people I know it just one of those things that’s there. Perhaps if someone has a branding they want to promote or some other venture, then it might be helpful. Nothing wrong with it, I just don’t have a lot of use for it other than that game mentioned of “hey, remember HIM?”

      The whole at peace thing is just one of those things that some of us need, lest we get wrapped up in resentments and such. And for us, and really, for many others, resentments are poisonous. I lived my life letting others have some sort of control over my emotional space and the result was a viscious and skewed look at the world. Unhealthy would be an understatement. so this sort of “aha” moment, this movement of getting past things is a sort of panacea for my spiritual ills. Or part of the greater.

      In other words, I need to be at peace with those I have harmed, or who I perceived to have hurt me. There are many, like you, who I could not move past, and they clogged me up. I still have a block or two there, but I am getting closer to true forgiveness, and that is a start.

      Thanks again for being here, Paul.

      Blessings
      Paul

  8. I found your post quite helpful. There’s a lot to be said for this process of digging deep, owning our crap, and letting go. Thank you for posting this. Your honesty and sincerity are refreshing.

    • I like how you keep it simple and focused – digging deep, owning our crap and letting go. Love it! You pretty much nailed it, and in so much fewer words than I am able to muster (or not muster!)

      I think living like this need not be just put upon for us alkies and other addicts. While it’s part of our recovery action plan, I think it’s something that has been used by many on the spiritual path. There are echoes of this in religions around the world. I am sure one could look up things like atonement, contrittion, etc. and see some parallels.

      Anyway, thank you for the kind words and for being here. 🙂

      Love and light,
      Paul

  9. I doubt I’m reinventing the wheel with this comment, but I still want to add how inspired I am by you, by your recovery, and by your writing. I’ve said it before: you blaze the trail for the rest of us, Paul! What a fabulous journey you are taking, and I am honored to witness it. Thanks for sharing this beautiful analogy/thought process with us!

    • Ah Josie – much to kind as usual. It ain’t rocket science what I say. It’s just what has been passed down to me, and what you and I pass down to those who seek our counsel in the program. Bill W and Dr. Bob were the true trailblazers 😉

      Love when you stop by – hope the weekend has been treating you well. It’s supposed to rain big time tomorrow here, so gonna ride my bike in the morning and transit it back, methinks. Ran twice today (crazy, I know – to and from work) so I need to rest up. I need to practice patience and not get too ramped up on the running, lest I get injured again.

      Typical alkie – more, more, more!!! lol

      Hugs,
      Paul

      • You must be on the Eastern side of Canada? Because I’m in Pennsylvania, and we’re expecting rain too! Funny you should mention exercise… yesterday my husband and I spread 7 yards of mulch (I really don’t know what that measurement means, other than my back and arms are really sore). Anyway, I knew that this could count as my physical exercise (through sweating alone), so did nothing else. I look at my Fitbit halfway through the day, and my activity is DOWN! It is limited in what it tracks, and I guess it can’t track hauling loads of heavy crap in a wheelbarrow. I was so mad until my husband said KNOCK IT OFF.

        Like you said, typical alkie.

        Also, we finally found a difference between us… you are to YouTube as I am to television. Got Netflix for Father’s day, and we have already watched the complete 2 seasons of House of Cards (again, typical alkie!).

        Mixing up the exercise is so very good for you (I should listen to my own advice)… you are probably ready for a triathlon!

        • I’m in Ontario. So central, leaning to the east yes.

          I am aware of fitbit, but don’t know enough about it. But I am sure it doesn’t measure that kind of physical exercise. Perhaps it’s more for the classic stuff – running, biking, hiking, treadmill, etc.? And yeah, knock it off…ha ha.

          I don’t watch more than about an hour of TV a week (or less). I just don’t know what’s on any more, and I don’t have any interest in it. But I do enjoy the YouTube because I can watch whatever I want, whenever I want. I can watch documentaries, or just music videos or even some silly stuff now and then. But I don’t stay on for long. Angry Birds? Now that I can stay on for a while 😉

          Speaking of triathlon, I was just watching some of the guys and gals on their bikes speeding along the expressway (they shut it down) in the rain. I can’t swim, so that takes THAT off the list of things to do!

          Hope you stay dry today!

          Paul

  10. Paul, you are so funny. I was laughing out loud with your opening joke. 🙂

    I like when you impart your wisdom within your witty posts about recovery. It certainly gives me something to consider.

    I have yet to make amends or learn to let go of my past. I’ve got shitloads of shame from the stuff I did before I started drinking in isolation. I mean way back to my high school years. It’s one of the reasons I started to hide when I drank. I don’t friend anyone on Facebook and I ignore all Linked-in requests. I avoid my past like the plaque and it’s probably something that needs to be addressed…at some point in time.

    Ah, there is much work to be done.

    Fern

    • Ha ha…thanks. Poor Timmy! I think I like to use Rule #62 here, and that’s not to take myself too damned seriously. As I said to Jeff there earlier, I can take my recovery seriously, but I need to laugh at myself and this whole bloggy thing.

      As they say, guilt is when we say “I did something wrong” and shame is when we say “I am wrong”. Shame is a much deeper, wounded animal. Amends is where I started to forgive myself, Fern. But don’t worry about that kind of stuff now. We aren’t ready for amends until we get do the other 8 steps before that. They are numbered in that way for a reason. Some people love to jump to amends, but they often cause more damage. It’s something we talk to with a sponsor or similar.

      It’s in His time, Fern. The work is there to be done, and it’s a matter of faith and courage to do it. If I can do it (and the gazillions ahead of us who have), then you can. One step at a time 🙂

      Paul

      • Thanks Paul, I am trying to make a return to blogging. My youngest has been in hospital with a chest infection so that’s put me back a week, then I caught it and I’ve been sick. I just recorded a vlog, which is uploading painfully slowly to YouTube, in which I sound every bit the transvestite thanks to this cold I’ve had! Hope everything is well with you too xx

  11. Paul,
    Great read! Social media and an amends list. Who knew? But this is such a fantastic way to get into the guts of our past to track our patterns, harms and well, “expertise”.
    Hope this finds you well. I’ve been quiet as we had to deal with some teen issues with my 16 yo.
    Hugs,
    Linda

    • Oh Linda I am so sorry to hear that things are going on with your teen there. I am flashforwarding about 10 years with my two young boys and wondering what mischief and mayhem will be awaiting me ;).

      In all seriousness, I hope things turn out well. Glad you’re here. Made my day 🙂

      Blessings to you all
      Paul

  12. Paul, I can’t tell you how much I admire your honesty. I can’t even begin to imagine the person you once filtered your true being through. You speak of him but I know nothing about him… because the person I see and read about today is such a remarkable human being… sharing his gifts with the rest of the world to help inspire and uplift.
    I can’t say that I ever did harm to people I have worked for and with from my past struggles with alcoholism. I never drank on the job because I worked with kids and had to drive them around. But as soon as I got home, bottles flung open and didn’t stop until my head crashed hard against my pillow… completely blacked out.
    I did, however, cause a lot of harm to my sisters; especially my middle one. We were closer than two peas in a pod growing up; only 13 months apart. She had my back and I had hers. I loved her dearly and still do to this day. We suffered together when my father was murdered and she was there for me when my dump of a biological burden came crashing down on me and then only to leave me broken into pieces when he chose his new family over the love of a daughter.
    My alcoholism destroyed my sister and I’s relationship. There were countless fights, both physical and mental, all caused by my incoherent slurs and slamming toward her. It breaks my heart to even think about those days because my sister IS MY HEART. Today, I am still trying to put together whatever we have left. If I said it was easy, I’d be lying. She is proud of my sobriety and says she has forgiven me. But I want more. I want that relationship we had before alcohol ripped her away from me.
    Again, truly good thoughts here, my friend. Thanks for sharing.

    • You’d be surprised at my old duplicitous self, Gina. Sometimes hard to think back on how I used to be. I wasn’t a monster – that’s not what I want to convey. But I wasn’t an honourable or kind person. I was a “nice guy” in many ways, but I had different motives.

      I can’t picture you blacking out almost nightly from work either! It’s amazing how alcoholism can transform us, and recovery as well.

      When it comes to family, trust is always the toughest thing to get. Or with anyone, for that fact. I had a counsellor tell us that it took five years for his wife to trust him again. It took my wife time to trust me again. I am sure there is still a small part of her that worries or isn’t sure at times. Fleeting perhaps, but then again, I am just conjecturing.
      So while you may not have exactly what you had before, it may turn out to be something different and perhaps deeper. We do hurt the ones we love the most, as they say, and it takes time. I hope that things go well with you guys 🙂

      Thanks for the wonderful comments, as usual, Gina. You are a rock star 🙂

      Paul

  13. I think the world would be a better place if everyone cared about making amends, not just those in recovery. It is a peaceful feeling to not cringe every time I come across someone from my past and to recognize that we’re all equally human and fallible. As usual, an honest and inspiring post, Paul!

    • I remember talking to one of our adoption workers and I had to explain the whole recovery thing to her for our home study. When I was done explaining things like amends, etc. she said something along the lines of “this is something we all should do!” And so I agree with what you say. I think making amends, as opposed to saying sorry, would certainly make the world a better place!

      Thanks for the comments and for stopping by, Karen! 🙂

      Paul

    • Thanks Chris – like I like to say, I like to employ Rule #62 around here. I like to get a bit wacky like everyone else does, but within the context of the material. I am glad it’s appreciated, kind sir.

      Listening to your podcast as we speak (type?). Your site rocks. Thanks for crossing paths 🙂

      Cheers
      Paul

  14. LinkedIn is crazy with how they can pull people out of your past. I read an article about that awhile back where the author was *sure* it was pulling some sort of privacy abuse with our email access (or “coworker finder” or whatever they call it). I think it’s so spectacular that you have gotten to that place of wishing people well, of NOT cringing when you see someone who might have brought up shame earlier on in your recovery. I aspire to be like you 🙂 The wishing well isn’t that hard for me but the not cringing part is tough. Maybe it gets better with a few more years under my belt, like you have. Thanks for the post! Hugs to you!

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