Those infamous words knocked me back into my seat as I sat in a circle with my recovery peers who all stared at me, shocked at the way I was being put in my place by the director of the program. It was “Focus Group” which meant that we got to sit across from someone we wanted to confront. This was a way to clear up tensions in a healthy manner, and to also point out behaviors in one another so that we could assist each other in changing the things that led us to drinking or using. I was rarely focused on by any of my 40+ peers. I had it all going on as if my shit didn’t stink. What I didn’t realize was that my behavior of “looking good” and being everyone’s buddy was exactly what was going to kill me in my addiction. This was pointed out by the counsellors, not my peers, because we were all too blind at the time to notice subtle behaviors, or to even relate perfectionistic traits as a revelation of a sneaky addict. Yeah, I was one of those.
Humility was part of the process of changing our behaviors, but you cannot really get to a place of humility if you’re not aware of yourself. So that’s how the director of the program saved my life in a sense. After that dramatic session with my peers, another director walked into the evening house gathering and pointed at me. She told the group that they were letting me “die” because they weren’t aware of how I navigated through the program like a little “honey bee.” At first I was clueless as to what this even meant, but as time went on, I became aware of my own intensions to be everybody’s best friend, and how I buzzed past important things, including my assignments. I knew how to get things done quickly without putting much effort into them. Basically, I was living on the surface of my life to avoid difficult emotions. Life to me was a checklist – “Get this done… CHECK! Get that done… CHECK!” I was driven to complete tasks as swiftly as possible and to make sure that everyone liked me in the meantime.
Laughing out loud right now at the thought of spending so much energy trying to please everyone. Handing all of my assignments in on time was a way for me to get acceptance from my counsellors. Like they even paid much attention to me when there were 40 of us addicts running around with minor dramas always occurring. I was so self-centered, I swear to god. When I left that sacred place, it was scary walking out into the real world where people are pretty much oblivious to their behaviors. I recall thinking that I wish I could have focus group at work, or with my family. It really did save my life and I was scared to not have that safety net of a group because I was still wobbly on my own two feet. Luckily I continued going to groups and moved into a sober-living environment with many of my peers. The group I graduated with has been a very solid handful of people. Most of us are doing very, very well. We were really hard on each other too, but now there is nothing but love and support between us. I know I can call any of my peers at any time and they would drop everything to be there for me. I have needed some of them this very week, and four of them have immediately been there for me, even if it was merely words of encouragement after listening to my “drama” for the week.
There was a little upheaval this week with my ex and for the first time in a very long time, I felt extremely overwhelmed. But that only lasted for a day. I went through it, got sucked into it for a little while, and then stopped pointing my fingers and began looking at my part in the situation. Once I did this, I stopped myself in my own tracks – almost as if I slammed myself into my own chair with awareness of my negative behaviors. I felt ashamed, and scattered. I took myself to three meetings and announced my “behaviors” to the group. Afterward, I apologized to my former boyfriend. I haven’t heard one apology from him, but that’s ok. I’m not in this to even out the score. My only obligation to my recovery is that I recognize my part in every situation and clear it up as soon as possible.
I felt better when I got out of the drama and took some responsibility. Last night, I ran into “him” and he was clearly uncomfortable. He left the restaurant immediately after realizing he was uncomfortable. I was not at all uncomfortable. What I would love to tell him is that all of this turmoil coming up for him is simply a guiding light into himself. It’s nothing more than emotional growth occurring. Regardless of the obvious happenstance, and the “drama” surrounding me moving out and our breaking up, there is something much greater happening. I don’t take much interest (any longer) in surface situations. People are dramatic. I’m even dramatic. The daily dish comes and goes, but the real deal is what’s below the surface. A year from now when we are both a little stronger from the situation, we will look back and see how much we changed because of our year long encounter. When we met, the stars were in alignment. Fireworks ignited. We went into the relationship open hearted and confident. Both of us knew that we might get hurt, but we were very ambitious because we were extremely aware of the yin and yang between us. We knew that in harmony, we could be a dynamite couple. It was difficult for us to keep that harmony, so there was a lot of conflict instead. That ambition between us stretched us to the max, however, and this part of our experience (the turmoil) is merely growth occurring quickly. That’s all it is, and I see it for what it is.
Forget the scene, or the way things are playing out. Look beyond them. Life is not about the drama occurring – it’s truly about what is happening for you (emotions) during the experience. I took a massive bite of humble pie this week. It was bitter to the tongue, but sweet to my belly. I’m in a much better place because I took some serious responsibility. I’m not writing any of this stuff to pat myself on the back. I have such a long way to go, and there is still some wreckage to attend to. What I do understand in all of this, is that my former boyfriend was simply a player in my life to show me what I really need to work on in myself, and where I need to grow. For him, I was also a player in his life who stirred up a lot of things for him. When I met him, he talked about longing to be more flexible and easy going. When he met me, I spoke of wanting to keep growing as a person. I think we organically provided this for one another. He really opened my eyes to myself and I am growing greatly because of it. For this, I am incredibly grateful for him. He’s been a great teacher.
I can’t change some things that are occurring, or that have occurred, but I do know where I could have done better. Progress… It’s funny – My former boyfriend used to call me “Phoebes.” This was his name for me. I’m going to miss that a lot, but this isn’t a Friends episode. The season has ended and life moves on.