Monday, November 19, 2012

“Breakthroughs and Breakdowns”

Here’s a funny story.

The other day, I was working with my sponsor. As an aside in conversation, I talked about my music and how I don’t play live shows. I said that the reason why is mostly because I feel so vulnerable, how when I play music, I’m opening myself up to others, and that I have a really hard time taking criticism when I do that. I can get really defensive. The slightest critique gets blown way out of proportion; I usually take it way too personally.

My sponsor thought this interesting and came back at me with questions about that same response playing out in the rest of my life. I told him I didn’t see it in the rest of life, just music. He pressed me on the point, and very soon I felt like my back was up against the wall. Before long, I had to admit that he was right. To an outsider, the conversation could very easily have seemed like this: me—“I don’t take criticism very well”; my sponsor—“yeah, you do tend to be a bit defensive”; me—“what-are-you-talking-about-I’m-not-defensive-at-all-how-could-you-suggest-such-a-thing!!!!!!”

*Sigh* Most of us don’t like looking at our character defects. This particular one of mine might very well be the one I dislike the most about myself. I dislike it so much that (more often than not) I’m in denial about its even existing. I’m often blind to it when it’s happening. I think that happens with those of us in the program too—denial is so second nature to us, we truly depend on our fellows in the program to call us on our bullshit.

I won’t speak for anyone else, but I absolutely love my bullshit. I love the rush I get when I feel self-righteous anger. Oh yes, the thrill of being Right. And of course I’m right! How dare you question me? Don’t you know who I am?! I can sit in that and stew in it and just eat it up all day and night. And does it ever stink!

Having my sponsor not just point out this defect of mine, but really make sure that I looked at, was ego-bruising for sure. It may hurt, but I know it’s what I need. I can’t work on what I don’t know is a problem (or what I refuse to admit is a problem). I’m not saying it’s easy, not by a long shot! Even acknowledging this particular fault of mine filled me with intense feelings of failure—almost to the point of tears.

Fortunately, this is what the program is all about: giving us a way to deal with ourselves. As it’s said in the rooms, “we’ve got a step for that!” I know right off the bat what a big chunk of this particular character defect of mine is about—it’s fear and insecurity. I can look into my past and see where it comes from.

It’s important to remember, as we do the work on ourselves, that who we are didn’t come about by accident; we are who we are because it’s who we had to become in order to survive. It’s not our place to pass judgment, even on ourselves. Looking at our defects, asking a higher power to have them removed is a continuing process of Humility. And we don’t do it just for the heck of it, we do it because these defects, the way we have lived, no longer works for us and we need to find a way to live differently.

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