“Remember when I was first learning to drive? The day I became a better driver was when you told me to drive like I was leading other people.” My daughter just reminded me of this conversation. We had it during her first few days on the road. We’re all timid when we’re doing something new. We’re sticking our toe in the water, testing it out, finding our way…but some things, like driving, have to be done with more direct intent, because other people’s lives literally depend on how you perform on the road. And at 50 miles an hour there’s not a lot of room for error.
As we talked we both realized that none of us can really escape leadership. Someone is always watching us, and someone is always affected by our decisions. Even if we absolutely want no part of this picture…there’s no escape.
It actually helped my daughter to be a better driver when she mentally pretended that she was the leader, she was in charge of the road and the people behind her depended on her every decision. No more sudden stops. No more frantic decisions. Think about it. If you pretend that others are lost and they are looking for your cues to help them along, you’re much more likely to be calm, patient, and level headed.
So, what does this have to do with you, and recovery?
Pretty much everything.
I believe from that first day, that first decision we make to come out of darkness, we are now equipped to help others in their journey of sobriety. We are reaching for higher ground and it’s our responsibility (and human instinct) to pull someone with us.
My daughter’s pastor says, “We should always have one hand reaching ahead and the other reaching behind.” We are connected. We are all a part of each other and it’s our calling to help that person who is right in front of you, right now, today.
For me, I made a decision to “come out” on Facebook. It actually wasn’t a conscious decision to help others at first. Honestly, at the time it was the only way that I could make it to rehab and through rehab. I did it for myself. I checked myself in to save my life from the suicidal thoughts that were swimming in my head at the time, and I desperately wanted to walk free from addiction…but some small part of me was kept alive and nurtured by the fact that I put my story on blast and was now publicly walking out my 78 days in rehab allowing others to read about my extremely messy journey.
People read it. They responded. Some encouraged me while others confided their own struggles. A few people even ended up starting their own journey of sobriety…and my words on Facebook were a small part of their decision.
I was leading…and I didn’t even know it.
Just like my daughter, Holly and her slight but purposeful mindset change to pretend she was leading everyone on the road…what if we could adopt that same mindset about our recovery? What would change? How might our decisions seem more important to us? Maybe we feel like we’re just tricking ourselves into some strange form of accountability, maybe this feels like way too much pressure, or maybe we’re afraid that viewing ourselves as a leader of anything will just puff us up and make us prideful…
Facing Self Centered Pride
That’s what I was thinking (the prideful thing) as I was writing this blog post, but about two paragraphs ago I received a phone call from Chelsea. She’s now on staff at the treatment center I came out of. When I first met her she was a client and we were roommates at the girl’s house. She’s always been this huge source of strength to me. She has wisdom beyond her years. We started talking about helping others and what it really means to put yourself out there, to put your story out there and your raw thoughts. I confessed that I teetered on the edge of feeling like I was just making too much of my own weird world and maybe I really didn’t have what it takes to help anyone. I mean, who really wants to hear my story? Who am I to start this blog or Facebook Page or even think I could finish a book to help other addicts. Maybe my dreams are way too far fetched.
“Who do you think you are?” rings in my head.
I’m glad Chelsea can see right through most situations. “That’s self centered fear.” She was 100% on point. I don’t remember what the next five or ten sentences were after she said that one phrase. I was just sitting on my back porch in amazement that God was talking to me through this phone call and identifying my problem. She reminded me that we all go through that. We want to talk to the new person in recovery. We want to offer our kindness or some form of hope but then we let our own self centered thoughts dictate what we will and won’t do. “Who do you think you are?” is the lie that’s always fed to me. Often, I accept it.
In the recovery community it’s never about us. It’s always about putting ourselves out there to help others. It’s about taking ownership and realizing we’re not leading others to follow us, so it’s not pride. We’re just one hungry person showing another hungry person where we found bread.
Paul (in the Bible) said something really bold. He said, “Follow me as I follow Christ.” 1 Corinthians 11:1
I don’t know if I’ll ever get to that place, but it’s a cool thing to read because he definitely wasn’t a prideful guy. He just realized that self centered fear leaves everyone paralyzed, so we should keep moving forward, even if we occasionally make mistakes along the way.
Today I faced my fear. It took two phone calls from two different people for God to shake me awake and to realize…
We’re always leading, like it or not. We might as well own it.
We’re here. We’re alive. There are people to help. We have a purpose.
What a great feeling.
Note from Robin: If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, please reach out for help.
Don’t wait another minute. 239-440-6856