I’ve been observing a lot of my own behaviors trying to connect them with something I may have learned in the past that I kept repeating, that eventually turned out to be something negative, like selfishness. I observe something like anger or frustration and take that feeling back in time to see if I’m reacting on the memory of an event. It’s being ‘self aware’ which is looking on the inside, instead of being ‘self conscious’ which is stressing about the outside things you can’t control, like someone’s opinion. I liked the results so I’ve also done this with my son, but his is in real time. Let me explain. I saw my kid take his Nintendo Switch away from his cousin only to put it down and not use it. I was like, “Dude. Why would you take that from him if you’re not going to use it?” He said it was because it was his, and he didn’t want his cousin to have it. “That’s it?” I asked. “What kind of a reason is that?” He just shrugged his shoulders with embarrassment and had a “I know I’m wrong, but I did it anyway” smile on his face. I know I haven’t raised my kid to be a selfish person and I wanted to know where he picked up that behavioral trait (it may sound like a small thing now but it’s not). I looked at all the possibilities, school, friends, TV, YouTube, the rest of the internet, and even his mother and myself, etc. What could have possibly put the thought in his head that selfishness was a desirable trait? In reality, all of those things probably play their own role, but there was one thing that made all the other things I was looking to blame amplified, he’s like my twin. Then, I looked back at the behavior I would display around him when I was drinking. How was I acting back then? I know that with the words coming out of my face, I would always teach him to share because I never wanted him to think that the world has to be closed minded and selfish, and I also want him to be better than his possessions. But what does an alcoholic act like? What was his father, the man he looks up to, acting like when I was drinking? Here’s where actions speak louder than words.
As an alcoholic, your brain starts to work in the dysfunctional way that you trained it to work by repeating actions, like drinking and drowning your problems with chemicals, for long periods of time. Drinking usually starts off innocently enough by having a good time with friends but can quickly take a wrong turn at any moment. Just so we’re clear, I don’t hate alcohol in any way, I also have nothing against anybody that drinks alcohol. I remember how fun it can be and how I was the same person too at one point in my life, but I just had too many issues to deal with to be able to enjoy alcohol responsibly (I should have listened to the commercials!). And now that I have a better understanding of what it does to my body, I have no desire to have it be a part of my life. Now it’s my choice, but for a while, it wasn’t. While I didn’t teach my son to be selfish, the acts of my being an alcoholic taught him in their own way. When you get to the point of alcoholism that I got to, things get scary and they keep repeating themselves in weird cycles. Every time I would finish a drink, it was like I was starting the clock until I had another one. In fact, it became a game where I would see how long I could go in between drinks and my attention was solely focused on just that. Each time I would try to go longer and longer without a drink, but the reverse happened. With my attention focused exclusively on the amount of time in between drinks, every nervous move turned into a selfish action, like a demented balancing act, just so I could feed my body with the alcohol it desired. Every second was desperation to see if I could go just a few minutes longer without a drink. Even if I didn’t want to drink, my mind and body would selfishly focus on alcohol.
Every act I carried out was selfish, even though that was not my intention, because it was focused on either drinking or not drinking, there was no in between. You couldn’t hold a conversation with me because I was being selfish and only thinking about alcohol. Even though most of the time I was thinking about what it would be like to quit, I was still selfishly focusing on booze. The amount of energy I spent trying to coordinate my next drink was insanely too much. I’d have a drink then start the clock, worrying about if I would be in the right place at the right time to be able to have a drink if I needed to, and spent all sorts of time wondering what people were thinking about me when they looked at me. It felt like my thoughts were broadcasted above my head for everyone to see, so I selfishly protected myself. I thought I was protecting myself against other people, but I know now that wasn’t the case. I was somehow trying to protect myself from the image I had created of myself that I never wanted to be, but since I put so much attention on it, the worst was always coming true. Nobody wants to know what they created, that’s why very few people can be honest with themselves. I was constantly fighting this battle in my head over and over again, and only when I stopped fighting myself and started trusting myself, did the battle end. It never had to be a fight because I was just fighting myself, I just needed to really look inside and not be afraid of what I found, no matter how ugly it got. It was uncomfortable for sure, but the more I meditated, the more I got out of it. The more I changed, the more alcohol wasn’t a part of my life. I know it sounds funny coming from a guy writing about alcoholism, but with 40 years of experience on the subject, I figured that the best way for me to do my part, for my life, is to help other people overcome their addictions. Call it a meaningful purpose. It’s something I didn’t have before.
It’s easy to see where my son could’ve picked up on the selfishness aspect of what alcoholism did to me. I don’t blame him one bit, but now that we know about it, we can correct it without using anger and stupidity to do it, because we both understand what it is. Healing just myself from alcoholism would’ve been a selfish goal because it didn’t only affect me. I needed to learn how to heal the people around me too but could not have done that if I was selfishly focused on the act of drinking. Perhaps if I had gone to AA instead of creating my own successful recovery program, I would’ve learned how Tom… who is an alcoholic and an addict, ended up at his drug dealers house again for the third night in a row but doesn’t know how… and swears he didn’t use. Keep telling yourself lies Tom! I would have wasted valuable energy on Tom (I made Tom up for the story. He’s a really nice guy, he’s just a little lost), and his repetitive bullshit that may have put me in a place where I couldn’t focus on myself and my recovery. But instead, I learned how to be conscious of my mind, body, and my past, present, and future, which allows me to be more focused on what is really important. It allows me to see little things like when my son is mimicking a behavioral trait that I had when was an alcoholic, so I can catch these things that most people think kids will grow out of but actually needs to be dealt with. I want him to grow up to be a great human being on the inside because he deserves to be comfortable with the life he creates, not the desperate, selfish lifestyle that alcohol created for me. I would love to hear your comments so please feel free to comment below! Thanks for reading. Have a Powerful Day!