Worthy


positive-self-esteem

 

I am always hesitant when I write something here on the blog.  When I write, I am usually focusing in on something that is ruminating in my mind, or perhaps touching on something that I am going through.  Usually, what I am going through isn’t all-consuming as I may make it seem to be.  Usually, I am just shining the spot light on a small or not-so-small (sometimes) part of me that I like to talk myself through.  And share with others. What I’d like to let y’all know is that these things are usually just passing thoughts. What I say today, right now, might change tomorrow.  And often does. The pain I might be going through usually dissipates. What I write doesn’t define me, either way, good or bad.  I think sometimes people read too much into what I write and perhaps see me in constant crisis.

It’s far from the truth.

While I might bemoan something, or get really into a topic that is sitting with me, I have to state that I am really quite happy.  I have a loving family. I have a job that I like and which gives me benefits and time off and bosses who know about my alcoholism. I have a connection with Creator, and I have people in my life that care about me, and whom I care about.  I am healthy.  I laugh a lot. We may be living paycheque to paycheque but we are not in grave financial danger.  There are some great opportunities opening up for us now.  I have a fellowship around me that I can lean on and who lean on me.  Overall, I just can’t complain. And yet sometimes I do still.  That’s just old me cropping up.

I mention all this because sometimes I feel that perhaps I am misleading in my writing.  That I seem like that I’m in some sort of critical and life-ending emotional / mental state when really I am just sharing a darker part of me, of the illness.  Of my -ism. And that’s important to me, because I can’t ignore those things.  Those are the things which brought me to the drink, and these days, can topple me from my emotional sobriety.  So while I may not gush about all the amazing things going on with me, doesn’t mean that I am not grateful for them.  Or that they don’t happen.  I just think for me it’s vital that I turn my attention to those niggling things on the sidelines that want to hog the spotlight and take me away from the sunlight of the spirit. And besides, it would be a pretty boring read about how great things are going all the time.

Now. Onto post #200.

There’s a default setting within me that likes to get tripped sometimes.  Like the turning off of a light, that switch can be either effortless, or like a dimmer on a timer, it can take some time.  Either way, the darkness comes and I am left with an overwhelming feeling that I am lost in there.  I am not talking about crippling depression or anything like that.  Just an inkling of a sense that I am not worthy of being liked, of being happy, of being content.  Now, I know that deep down, I am worthy, so it’s not about a sending up the flares and calling in the troops, but it’s something that my mind likes to chew on like my dog does on a squeezy toy.  And like the dog, my mind walks away from it when done.

Lately, self-worth has been on my mind. Or lack thereof.  There is something stirring within that is dredging up the old me, where I am not worthy of the great things bestowed upon me by Creator.  This is one of those things that I understand in my mind, but often my heart doesn’t often register.  I have lots of those things which are slowly making their way down to my spirit, nestled among the other things that have come to me in my short journey.  In the meantime, then, I wrestle with them.  Because they are in my mind, and because I have a thinking problem above all else, that is just what I do.  I over-think.  I sweat the small stuff.  I get caught up in my own filth when there is greater work to be done.  I am human, a work-in-progress.

I am doing some work on this, indirectly and directly, through my step work. Whenever I engage in my NA work, I am always brought to tears.  There is no one thing that prompts it, but I know underneath those tears is healing.  I am still cracking open stuff that either hasn’t been touched, or still hasn’t come to light enough.  I am still unearthing things before I (try to) let them go.  I am hitting the deep, core stuff as my sponsor would say.  I am mining the things that once served me, but are now cancerous to me and my well being.  And the whole low self-esteem and self-worth is one of those core things.

This plays out in a host of ways – self-deprecation, playing small, being too hard on myself, lashing myself, negative self-talk.  I catch these things as they happen, and try not to judge the thoughts (I’ve been reading a lot of Eckhart Tolle lately, can’t you tell?)  I know that playing small doesn’t do anything for me or for those I want to help.  Attraction, not promotion, and as Jeff said in his comments last post, getting attention for the wrong reasons is not what we do.  And perhaps that is what I do sometimes, or at least come across that way.  Complaining, whining, venting.  Sometimes I would think that I deserved to have a crappy life.  Part of me still flinches sometimes, waiting for the other shoe to drop.  Instead of living life the way Creator gave it to me.

And make no doubt – I have been given a second life.  There is no question in my mind.

So where does this land me?  In both comfortable and not-so-comfortable territory.  And I am used to both.  Getting out of my comfort zone has done nothing but grow me and stretch me.  So it’s not foreign country.  I have some fears around it, but I understand it.  Getting past the idea of not being worthy is something I have done before, and will do again.  What this shows me is that I am blocked somehow, and need to keep working at getting unblocked.  And doing the work, doing the digging, doing the writing, crying the tears, sharing with others, etc. is where I get to unblock.  Pray for guidance.  Go to where I am guided.  To take the leaps of faith when needed.

In the end, I think many of us struggle with self-worth.  Whether it be some truncated form of survivor’s guilt, or some deep down feeling that we are inadequate or some residue from our past lives, we do struggle with it.  Alcoholism demands it. My -ism still perches on that forefront of low self-esteem and perceived “value”.  It draws strength from it, and deepens all feelings of disconnection.  And when this happens, I feel it in my gut, but I know I will come out of this. I see it for what it is and allow myself to observe it and express it and do my best to move through it.  Others will sometimes call me out on it.  Sometimes I find it from within.  Often it’s both.  But in the end, I am stronger for it.

As I pulled up to a coffee shop yesterday to do my work, my head was still clogged with this sort of unworthiness nonsense.  I was still spinning my wheels on it.  I was at the cafe to do my step work, and found the usual bike racks full.  I pulled around the corner and attached my bike to the first empty rack I found.  After locking up the bike, I saw this sticker.

Creator has a way of showing me the way.

We are all worthy.

 

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46 responses to “Worthy

  1. What a wonderful post! I, too, am familiar with the dark thoughts. Mine make me feel so alone, even though I have friends and family that care about me. Some days it’s better and some days it’s worse. Loved the ending here too. You are worthy! You are SO worthy!!

    • Thanks ASA. That’s the danger of those thoughts – they want to keep us isolated, and do if we jump on them for too long. That has been my experience. So I try to do the opposite of where they want to drag me, so I open up more. Like sunlight on a vampire 🙂

      You are worthy as well 🙂

      Paul

  2. Love Eckhart Tolle. Really. Do you think he always thinks the way he writes? I am genuinely curious. Maybe he occasionally compares himself to Brene Brown or Deepak Chopra or whomever his peers are and feels a bit low. Maybe not.

    Last Sunday, I was leading an adolescent group on the topic of negative self-talk. It was very thought provoking and I learned a thing or two. Seriously, the universe sends us help in the oddest and most obvious ways.

    • I wonder that too – does he do as he writes all the time? He had a profound experience on the brink of suicide, so I don’t doubt his awakening. One in a million I think in how it happened to him, methinks. But funny to think of himself on a ladder with his contemporaries.

      Amazing you doing that group talk…I am sure you did walk away with something. How could one not? And you’re right, the Universe provides. Thank you for providing here 🙂

      Paul

  3. Those damn pesky, disadvantageous neural pathways. They refuse to atrophy sometimes. When low self-worth is instilled in you at certain ages in childhood, during crucial periods of brain development, as well as synaptic pruning, it can be a real bugger to atrophy those pathways. They often remain permanent, but can go dormant (no electrical activity). and those pathways can fire up again. It can be caused by a number of factors, even geophysical. What we end up doing is ruminating which only lights up more of those areas in our brain. Looks to me like you are way ahead of the curve, recognizing that these thoughts should not be taken seriously or mulled over for too long. That would only reinforce those pathways.

    Sorry to be so technical, but learning about this, myself, really helped me to not be so self-reflective and down on myself. Low self-esteem used to plague me, no thanks to religious indoctrination and the devaluation of children (and women) by our culture. So it took me years to overcome. That’s not to say the thoughts don’t pop up every once in a while. They do. I’m just careful about not giving fuel to an unnecessary fire.

    Excellent post, my friend.

    • Love this, Victoria.

      I always love what you bring here, and I have no doubt that what you say is correct. While I operate on a spiritual based system, I would be foolhardy to ignore the technical side of how our brains operate. I do believe that we get wired in a way that stays with us. I know that part of recovery for me is changing how I think. Well, it’s mostly that…ha ha. And breaking associations is certainly something I see as chemical as much as anything else. Rewiring, for simplicity sake. And breaking associations seems to be a lot of where my work takes me. Shifting perspective and keeping the positive areas fired up while allowing the others to atrophy is something I try to do on the daily, especially when I light up the wrong parts 🙂

      And what you say about not giving them the fuel…bang on. That carries weight on all levels, my friend 🙂

      Thanks again…I love when you bring so much to the conversation.

      Paul

      • Paul, thank you for your encouraging words, and for indulging me. I consider myself a spiritual person, too, but I must tell you that I never experienced liberation until I started to gain a better understanding of the workings of the brain. Just so much “stuff” I carried around for years, and now I have gotten rather good at identifying which is junk food and which is nutritious, symbolically speaking.

  4. Damn, Paul. I have a stack of essays to grade while I am monitoring study hall; I decided to take a quick look at this post before I started in on the work. I. Know. Better.
    Your bike provides a great metaphor for your post. Humor me and follow along.
    Your bike has wheels that spin; without the proper maintenance, this won’t happen. They may get flattened (an idea someone shoots down), lose their luster (our self esteem without step work), or require some oil on the joints to touch up the old, achy parts (call to sponsor before crisis rears its ugly head). Sometimes a new seat feels good; other times he hurts our arse so badly we want to throw it away because it’s not broken in quite right. (Sound familiar? Old habit dies hard; new ones take time.)
    I could really go on and on with the bike metaphor, but then I’d be spinning my own wheels. So, I’ll park the bike for now. But, I also will remind myself to get it tuned up as needed. Even my 20 year old Schwinn will shine when it’s properly taken care of.
    Our minds get cluttered; we toss some ideas, ignore others, hang on to some and swirl even more. Keep the faith, my friend.
    As for the rack being taken to force you onto a new path, gimme a break. We seriously can’t make this stuff up! Good fodder.
    Now, iIHAVE to grade- and lucky for the kids; I’ll probably be more generous in my comments. 🙂
    Hugs,
    Linda

    • hi Linda…I always love your comments. I really do…I am going to put them in a binder one day 🙂

      Bravo on the bike analogies there…lol. Loved them. And you are ever so right. I think what you said about tossing ideas, ignoring others, etc. is something that I have struggled a bit with in recovery. I am so used to black-or-white thinking that the idea of a fluidity in there is still confounding. Of course I can change my mind on something (can’t I?) I can be shown new things, can’t I? I can take in new stuff and let go of others, yes?

      Oh dear…new thoughts and way of looking at things…what a concept 🙂

      Anyway, I take this all to heart, Linda.

      Thank you so much…hope you got those papers done 😉

      Blessings,
      Paul

  5. Paul,

    I enjoy how you put it all out there. It is good to correct or try to correct readers misconceptions. One thing we learn in recovery is “this too shall pass”. And pass it does.

    I know when I blog/write, I am usually going through or have been there and wish to share the journey with others. It is my way of reach back, shinning the light on the path as you said.

    Worthy! Yes we are all worthy. Even if we fail we are worthy, failure is only an opportunity to reassess, do an inventory, your own of course. Get back on the path, clear out the cobwebs, dust off your knees, and get moving in the right direction.

    Yes we are Worthy in our successes as well. Gratitude goes a long way, it continues to open the doors, it lets in the light. Our success offers others the vision to see that working the program works. Even though we may at times hear people with the poor me’s, that life has slapped them in the face and kick their asses. Share your gifts, share your happiness, wear your worthiness as a badge of honor. Suit up, show, share.

    Awesome !
    Thank you my friend!

    • Jeff – what you said is worthy of its own post 🙂

      Really – you really add to the conversation here, and I love what you said about being worthy even when we get knocked down. I think I used to get stuck (and still do at times) in that down-and-out part. There is a sort of ego attachment to being down and out, you know? I identify as *something* by being the guy that doesn’t get up and dust himself off. And I think that is where many of us stayed. Down. So the idea that I am worthy even when my face is in the mud – that is revolutionary! And so it is with us – we see the value of us withing us, regardless of the externals. Or our alcoholism / ego dictating otherwise.

      Thank you for this, my friend. I really love having you here.

      Blessings
      Paul

      • Paul,

        You seem to bring the best out in me. I had the same thought while I was writing the response. “I think there is a blog here?” And if I was not in the middle of a wordpress writing 101 course I would be more inclined to write such a blog.
        Thank you I am honored !
        Jeff

  6. Welcome to yet another step in the healing journey, my friend. Love to see you sink your teeth into this stuff. Moreover, we owe you one for your profound honesty in walking through this in front of us all. Will print this out and put it my notebook for future reference.

    • Greg, you are truly a kind and wonderful gentleman. I see all that you post on your blog there, and I can see that you *get* it, and your generosity is astounding. Thank you for sharing yourself with us, and all of us with us. You certainly have what I want.

      Blessings
      Paul

  7. Pingback: repost: worthy | club east: indianapolis·

  8. Nice list. Like shining light on a vampire, lol.

    Asking the HP for the willingness to be honest in all my affairs and to put people in my life who can help me, has done more for me than anything.

    • Well said Mike…I ask my HP both what I can do to help the still suffering alcoholic (12th step prayer) and also to have Him put others in my path who can shine the light on me.

      Thanks for being a light shiner, kind sir 🙂

      Paul

  9. Hi Paul,

    So if you are the dark, brooding, angst-filled poet, then I am the bubble-headed blonde always prattling on about how miraculous life is! I hope you don’t think of me like that, as I certainly don’t think of you as the former!

    This is one of those posts that I think I need a second and third reading before it sinks in. I hear the words “feeling unworthy” and it doesn’t resound with me, not necessarily because I feel worthy, but more along the lines that I haven’t thought the feelings through. Does that make sense?

    Another example: in the beginning, people in meetings would frequently speak about “not fitting in” and feeling like everyone else had a handbook in life that they didn’t, and I had that same feeling: nope, doesn’t apply to me. But the more I considered the idea, and the examples they gave, the more I realized it was what I was feeling, I just hadn’t defined it.

    And so I will read this again, and anticipate you have likely touched upon something I had rolling around my head, but just haven’t given the proper attention and diagnosis. I shall thank you in advance, and apologize for rambling on in a comment that is probably incomphrehensible!

    • The simple fact is that perhaps you don’t identify because you don’t identify 🙂 I mean that in a good way. You may be in a wonderful place where those thoughts don’t cross your mind. And that’s fantastic! Don’t feel that you *have* have those thoughts. And vice-versa – I may not have any attachment to something that you are quite attached to or have many thoughts about. That is why we learn from one another.

      I had to learn (and still do) that we are on our own paths. Sure we have commonalities but we also have some differences. What drives me batty may not affect you one bit. So don’t worry! I am GLAD that these kinds of thoughts don’t race through your mind like they like to with me…we all have our stories.

      And no, I don’t see you as the bubbling blonde…but you certainly have an energy and spirit that is attractive to many of us. Don’t change a thing!! (Unless of course your HP wants / needs it changed…then that’s a good thing 🙂 )

      Blessings Josie!!

  10. My perspective of you is the opposite of what your perception is of how people see you. I don’t see you in a “constant crisis” at all. You are insightful and sensitive to your emotional and spiritual self. In my eyes it’s all good! You have a beautiful soul where your light always shows through.

    Fern, who must bite her tongue to stop herself from saying “my blog is more like the person in constant crisis.” So be it — Diversity and commonality is what makes the recovery world the fellowship that it is!

    Love you, Paul!

    • Thanks Fern…I wasn’t trying to come across as wanting others to see me in a certain way, but I just wanted to clear the air. Sometimes I get responses that make me think that perhaps I am not being clear enough in my intent…and don’t want that clouding things up!

      But thank you for the kind words as usual.

      Your blog is very honest and covers the gamut of what recovery is. I am the same in many ways, and if you ever saw my tweets – I am all over the map! You get to see me grumpy, then euphoric, then goofy, etc. It’s much more “me” than here is. But we get to see deeper stuff here. As we do with your blog, my friend.

      Love back at ya
      Paul

  11. Cool post Paul. Well said – and I think most everyone (myself inculded, of course) has those feelings of insecurity off and on. Thanks for sharing.

  12. Great post as ever Paul.

    Now – firstly I like your use of self-worth that is the best term for me. I was put of self-esteem by the writings of Paul A Hauck who has written a bunch of great small books dealing with issues like this – he points out that esteem has a similar entomological derivation as estimate and to estimate against something you need a benchmark.. a norm that you are better or worse than. Crap! You set your own version of worthiness and focus on that.

    Having said that like you I play down my qualities and use self-deprecating humour as a matter of course. I have the imposter syndrome feelings a lot – which I was genuinely surprised to find is a known condition and actually one felt by a lot of “normal” people particularly successful ones.

    Like you I remain a work in progress on this stuff. I should stop and take a look at myself…. I have a great family around me, friends who like me, a responsible position in a renowned institution, recently in my fellowship I was elected to a new position of additional responsibility after several people approached me to suggest I accept a nomination for the role… etc. Are these the things that happen to someone who is a failure and a worthless individual? If I was looking at someone else like me I’d point out these successes and the value others clearly see in them. How come it is so difficult to do it for yourself?

    • You know, furtheron, you bring up an aspect of esteem that I hadn’t considered – it is a result of comparison. That feels exactly right and explains a lot of human behavior that I’ve found mysterious over the years. i have often wondered why people need to put others down in order to feel better about themselves – it is a matter of comparison and generating that comparison by negating others. Then the question becomes: if esteem is generated by comparison and it is so obviously wrong to compare yourself to others, then what should the comparison be? For me that one is simple – I should compare myself to what God would want me to be. For those who have never experienced faith, that may seem silly, because it seems to have to be “made up” and that means comparing myself to others again. But for those who have experienced faith and lived in it and have seen it and felt it work, it is a very clear feeling of peace and serenity and “rightness” even in the middle of chaos. A feeling that motivates and empowers and forgives and cares.

      And staying in the spotlight of God’s will is no simple matter. Wandering out of this warmth results in a feeling of loss and emptiness and valuelessness. And it doesn’t take a bad action or rough times or any other externals (although externals can challenge faith for sure). All it takes is a moment of doubt, a focus on the physical world for assessing value. For me, the answer to finding the light again is a refocussing, usually by committing an act of random or even not so random kindness. Or helping someone or doing an act of faith that does no physical good for me.

      Paul, I find your conversations with us here – while obviously focussing on what challenges you have and how you have and continue to srengthen yourself – have a much, much larger application than the situations of which you speak. I find the feelings and attitudes you describe to be particularly apt for me. And I see how they are for others as well. This being said – that you are using systems and strengths and attitudes to address your personal situation – I would guess that you may find similar uses for these in a more global setting. In other words, you have sought more learning and value in NA, having worked your way through AA. I would suggest that you can adapt your experiences and positive perspective outside the addiction community and go on to achieve a much wider impact with your understanding and achievements – helping more with your faith.

      Anyway, thanks furtheron for the inspiration and the help seeing more clearly. And Paul, I think you will find even greater value is available for you if you choose, when you look beyond your current focus – always keeping it in mind, of course and taking care of yourself.

      Excellent Post. Thank You.

      • Paul…I have to say that your comments really did stick with me long after I read them on the first go (I don’t respond right away to comments, as I am not always at my computer when I read them). It’s what you said about extending my focus and range. I think I read what you wrote at the precise time I needed to. I say this because I am finding myself a bit…antsy, if you will. Or perhaps unsure or unsettled in some ways. For example, I am not sure if I wanted to continue with the blog. There seems to me that I feel that I am ready to do *something* but I am not sure what it is. So you talking about relinquishing the narrow focus here or perhaps stretching out into a more open approach really hits home.

        So what does that mean? not sure, but you are helping me to crystallize or at least giveh me a direction into where He wants me to go. I certainly need, in my personal life, to continue with my work in 12-step and help others in that arena. But perhaps there is more to this all? Perhaps helping others in other venues? Or reaching out to a different kind of audience? Or shifting my focus on something more faith-based? (not that what I do and talk about isn’t). I don’t know…I am rambling, typing aloud, so to speak.

        And that is what I mean by your comments making me think. You and some others here have been telling us here that so many of these things we discuss here are also just *human* things, not just alcoholic things. And I am starting to see this more and more. We are just a wee bit more aware as those are the things that can lead us into hot water!

        Anyway Paul…thank you again. I need to meditate on this, and let it run around a bit.

        Blessings to you
        Paul

    • Congrats on the new position in the fellowship! The fact that you were nominated is a great one…attraction not promotion, etc. Shows that you have something that other deem…worthy.

      I like how you said that if you were looking at you, objectively, you would point out the successes and assets. We;re just so hard on ourselves sometimes, and obviously like to nit pick the liabilities…or what we see as liabilities. That’s the perception thing for me, and where self-worth comes in. I don’t always see the good things in me, but I know deep down that they are there. I know I am not a monster. I know people like me…so I just have to run with it until I fully accept all those things.

      Thanks for this, Graham. Great stuff to chew on in your comments.

      Blessings,
      Paul

  13. Beautiful thoughts, as always Paul. I’m grateful to have your words here to remind me just how lucky we are to be on this journey of finding the type of self-worth where hopefully, there will be no more doubts. And look at that! The Creator pointed you into a direction which to me, you so desperately needed to go. He has a way of showing us a more stunning outlook on how we view ourselves, even when we have no idea about the importance of our existence for Him and for others. He knows how much your presence means to so many people who are struggling to find their way. Not only to them, but to your family and those who you surround yourself with at your job and the meetings you attend. You are WORTHY. I know it’s easier to be told this than to feel it. We can’t force ourselves to feel something which just isn’t there. Or at least, we don’t think is there.
    For me, writing children’s stories and committing to sobriety wasn’t enough. I knew I had to go back to Church, find God inside my heart, and become a better follower to Him. In doing so, I had to establish myself in schools and encourage our children to always reach for their dreams and use their learning and imagination to get to those dreams. I had to volunteer for programs filled with kids who were struggling at home or in school to stay on the right path. I knew in my heart I had to be a better mentor for these kids… not only for me, but for the Creator. There was a time when I was lost and threw my gifts away because I didn’t think I was worthy. I also didn’t care whether I would live or die. I truly had no self-worth or control. But I had to get the control back to build steps back toward my self-worth. I think I am there for my existence on Earth but for Him, I still struggle with my worthiness for His kingdom. This is something I know in my heart I have to work towards.

  14. Ha! I love that you saw that sticker.

    I really related to this post. I struggle with “worthiness” but I wouldn’t say that I wallow around in self-pity. Probably the opposite, actually. It’s sort of like a low-grade buzzing in me that does color how I treat myself, though. And the way I focus on the negatives about myself when something doesn’t go as planned. While, I learn from my mistakes this way, it also sometimes makes me antsy and uncomfortable. Which is when I get the urge to drink. So… it has to be something I pull out and examine from time to time to keep me sober.

    I can’t decide if I deep down I truly think I am worthy or thinki am unworthy. Can it be both?

    • Sorry for the late response on this, Judith. I did read what you said and have given it some thought. I mean, it CAN be both, and often is, with that fluctuating better than / less than thing we all like to do, and some how find that middle ground. I am not tipping the scales heavily on either, but it tilts either way at times. Strong winds of some kind may throw it off, but it’s always about finding that center again.

      Anyway, thanks again for being here…love the comments as usual 🙂

  15. I read something recently that I think is attributed to Bill Johnson, “I don’t have time to think things about myself that God doesn’t think about me.” I’ve been holding that idea in my mind and expanding it to, “I don’t have time to think things about other people that God doesn’t think about them.” So simple and so profound. Blessings to you Paul!

  16. Oh, gosh, yes! Updated my post to link to this after reading your comment then this post (I’ve been behind on my blog reading lately). This is so nuanced and thought-provoking.

  17. Paul
    I find that whenever I craft a message, whether it is for one or many, and I am not being as honest as I can, it wont suit me, as I am guilty of manipulation to reach a desired goal. I found it is better to take a deep breath, ask the HP for guidance, say fuck it, and step off into the abyss. To thine own self be true. The truth will set you free.

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