What I Want Doesn’t Matter
What I Want Doesn’t Matter
This week, especially today, I learned that what I want doesn’t matter. Someone I know in the Fellowship taught me that phrase, and I’m grateful for it. I also had a lesson in humility. That was a tough pill to swallow.
I can’t always have my pie and eat it too.
In my drinking days I was the biggest control freak you had ever met. Especially at work. I had to have things a certain way, or do things a certain way. If you didn’t do what I wanted you to do, in the way that I wanted it, then you were enemy number one. I acted like the whole world was crashing down, and I was going down with it.
Or at home, when my sister didn’t take my well-intentioned advice, it was her fault. Not mine, not ever.
When things didn’t go my way, I got angry. And when I got angry, I drank. Drinking made everything better. At first. It would soothe my ruffled feathers. Calm the angry storm raging inside of me. Mellow out the feelings that the whole world was against me. Alcohol was my answer to everything.
Of course, that didn’t last long. Over time it took more and more alcohol to calm the raging storm inside. Those nasty feelings that would arise out of nowhere would continue to pop up no matter how much I drank. It wasn’t alcohol’s fault. And it certainly wasn’t mine either. I knew nothing about humility.
After a while though, I got tired of playing the feelings game. Tired of trying to bury my anger. I got sick and tired of being sick and tired. I had to find another way.
When I first got sober, being humble came easily because I was desperate for a new life. I had the gift of desperation to do anything and everything, if it would take away the desire to drink. My old design for living wasn’t working anymore, so I HAD to try something new.
I worked the Steps to the best of my ability. I kept in conscious contact with my Higher Power. I slowly learned how to ask for help. And life started to get better. My days weren’t a constant shit storm of anger, bitterness, or depression. And when those dreaded feelings hit, I could deal with them instead of stuffing them down deep.
Over time though, my ego started to re-emerge. Life got easier. I started to string more good days than bad together. I started to think that I could take care of myself. Along with these good days came one of my biggest defects of character: control freak.
I started controlling everything around me again. The anger came back when someone didn’t do something my way. And in those times, I had to check myself again. Thankfully I had learned to recognize the symptoms of my controlling nature, and could ask for help to remove it.
Up until today I had been doing well. I didn’t feel the need to control everything and everyone around me. I’ve had my bad days and good days. Nothing major. But today, I had a hard lesson in realizing that what I want doesn’t matter. At work, I wanted to control what was being done.
Right now I am the temporary Supervisor at my job, which is a huge responsibility. I realized, through an inventory I took, that I was freaking out about this responsibility. Any time I’m in a new situation, I want to run away. Or, try to control everything around me.
The problem with trying to control everything around me is, it doesn’t work. Like it says in the Big Book “Alcoholics Anonymous”, we tried to run the show. Arrange the actors, the lights, everything, and it failed. And when it failed, we blamed everyone around us.
When I tried to control my co-worker, and what she was doing, it blew up in my face. She ended up doing something she wasn’t supposed to do, which made more work for me. On top of that, my managers were coming up with more work for me to do. Work that I hadn’t planned on, and didn’t foresee.
That’s when my meltdown occurred. Instead of going with the flow, and letting things happen the way there were going to happen, I fought against the flow. And it hurt. Big time. I was in full-on, self-centered, “I am the queen of the universe and you should bow to me” mode. I blamed the chaos around me on my co-worker, and my managers, but took no blame myself.
Instead of going back to the way I used to deal with situations like that, which was drink, I went with humility instead. I admitted to my co-worker and manager that I wasn’t okay. I told them that I don’t know how to ask for help. That it was fucking hard to stand there and admit I needed help. And, that I didn’t know if I could keep doing my job.
That was a lot for me to admit. And it was hard. My ego took a beating for sure. But you know what? Instead of going home after work and getting plastered, I went home and looked forward to going to my meeting. I left work at work, instead of stewing about it all night long. That’s huge for me.
I was also present during my meeting as well. We were on Step 7 tonight, and it was exactly what I needed to hear. I realized today I learned the true meaning behind the part that goes:
“Where humility had formerly stood for a forced feeding on humble pie, it now begins to mean the nourishing ingredient which can give us serenity.” – Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions
What a beautiful, albeit painful, lesson to learn. When I put aside what I want, and let the other humans in my life do what they are going to do, I’m a lot happier. When I let go of my need to control everything in my surroundings, I’m happier. When I put my pride and ego aside and ask for help, I’m a lot happier.
My serenity is directly linked to my willingness to let go and go with the flow. I can have no serenity if I’m constantly trying to will others to do my bidding. I can have no serenity if I shut out my Higher Power. I can have no serenity if I don’t ask for help.
But the amazing and beautiful part about all of this is, it’s not just a one and done deal. I don’t just work the 12 Steps once and then I’m cured forever. It’s a constant process of cleaning out the bad shit to make room for the good.
Sometimes along the way I must learn my lesson the hard way. That’s just how I roll. But, by working the Steps, those hard lessons get fewer and farther between. I catch myself more easily. The catch is, I must stay teachable, and willing. That’s the only way this thing works.
Originally published October 5, 2016 – medium.com