Authenticity to me means to be my true self. When I was doing drugs and drinking, I wasn’t the person I once was or who I was raised to be. I was a master at manipulation and didn’t reveal to others my true thoughts or feelings because I didn’t want others to use it against me or to hurt me. Since getting sober, Ive been working on the character defect of people pleasing which I have been really struggling with. When I am using, I am selfish and not worried about how my actions affect others. I don’t care about my family’s thoughts or feelings even though they are the only ones who care about me when I am in the act of addiction. Being selfish is not my authentic self, but neither is the other extreme of being too codependent with my peers. It is often difficult for me to be authentic because it is hard for me to show that I am vulnerable. I often hold my feelings of sadness inside as I do not want to feel like I am being judged as weak. However, I know that being vulnerable only shows strength. I also have the tendency to change the things that I say based on whoever it is I am talking to. It is important for me to be reminded of my defects so that I am aware and am able to take the appropriate actions necessary to change my behaviors. My behaviors are still a work in progress, but I am working on being real, showing my true emotions as they are in the moment and not going from one extreme to the other.
My authentic self is a loving, caring and compassionate person. Sometimes I lose track of my authenticity due to resentments and character defects. What I know about my authentic self is that I need to work on any issues that arise because it will have an effect on how I represent myself. Sometimes I struggle with being direct and assertive and with no effort at all I am able to stand up and take accountability for my own doings. In my addiction, it seemed to be that my assets were really flaws due to people taking advantage of my authentic self. My authentic self did not do much good for me in active addiction. Working on authenticity in recovery can still be a struggle but it helps when you have the support from people who really care and who are real and authentic with you.
Being truly authentic can be very difficult for me at times. As someone who is newly sober, I have been living my life in deception and manipulation. I survived as long as I did by being a chameleon, putting on a mask and using my character defects in self-serving ways. I have been living as a false version of myself for so long that it’s really hard to try and connect with things that probably come easily to other people. Such as knowing what I truly believe in, understanding how I feel, and identifying emotions. Through groups at South Orange County Detox & Treatment I’ve learned about authenticity and character defects and I’ve realized the extreme amount of selfish interactions I’ve had on a day to day basis while I was using. These days, I’m so focused on trying to live in gratitude, empathy, and understanding, that when any negative or confrontational thoughts arise I immediately push them to the side- usually without even realizing it. Recently, when I become aware that I may have a resentment, rational or not, I’m able to recognize it and let it go. One thing I have realized is that I can’t go from one extreme to another. I can’t go from living in selfishness, manipulation, and deception to gratitude, empathy and understanding 100% of the time because neither are authentic or true. I’m trying to use my newly found insight into my character defects to take responsibility for the harm I’ve caused. Being honest and authentic is the catalyst to change. Similarly, to how step 1 of recovery is admitting we have a problem, the transformation from our false self to our real self occurs when we own who we are and our actions rather than pretending to be someone we’re not. By recognizing my character defects I’m able to work on them, let them go, and am one step closer to living a life of authenticity and integrity
I still to this day use dishonesty just to avoid drama or arguments. What sucks is that whenever I get caught it makes things way worse than they would have been then if I were to tell the truth to start out with. People start to distrust me and push me away and I end up depressed not talking to anyone all because of one lie. It is a hard habit to break especially when your life has been one big lie. Everyone deserves to know the truth no matter what, “The truth will set you free” is what my Dad says to me a lot. It’s harder to be dishonest as you try to remember every lie told to stick with your story. When the truth is always there. Dishonesty is my biggest defect of character and I need help from a higher power to get rid of it. One day at a time.
Dishonesty was a second nature when I was in active addiction. For a long-time I thought lying was a necessity. I’d lie to loved ones to keep them around. I’d lie to myself to preserve my habit- because the truth, and reality, hurts. My dishonesty served a purpose. If I quit lying, I’d have to quit using and face the pain I’d inflicted on those I love. But no matter how hard I try to ignore or deny it, eventually the lies fall away, whether I liked it or not. Because here’s the thing about truth- the truth is hard, the truth is awkward, and very often the truth hurts. It hurts, so we lie. But reality has a way of catching up with us. The world of pretend isn’t a cocoon, it’s a cage. We can only lie to ourselves for so long. Denial doesn’t change the truth- sooner or later we have to put away our denial and face the world head on.
In the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, Bill Wilson wrote “Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally un-capable of being honest with themselves.” The Big Book goes on to say the AA way of life as “a manner of living which demands rigorous honesty.” To ensure I’m not fueling addictive thinking and behaviors by being dishonest, I have to practice rigorous honesty. Rigorous honesty means telling the truth when it’d be easier to lie. It means sharing my thoughts and opinions even if it may mean there will be consequences. It means not stealing or cheating, even if I know I can get away with it. When I’m practicing rigorous honesty I’m able to recognize and acknowledge my fears and character defects, and I’m living life in congruence with my values and moral code.
In order for true growth to happen, vulnerability is needed. It’s hard to be vulnerable because no one wants to be hurt or show pain. They say that when you are uncomfortable, that is when the most growth happens. For example, what I have been used to is having something bad happen, like having a friend die or not getting my way and being angry, holding things in and not showing my true feelings as to why I’m upset. If nobody knows what I am feeling, then no one can truly gage where I am at with my issue and pinpoint where the work needs to be made. Sometimes I am scared to what vulnerability can open up for me. If I am uptight or closed off, I know that I am holding something in and not fixing my problems. Being vulnerable is the artist’s way of having a clean canvas to paint a new picture.
When I was using and drinking, it was very rare for me to feel vulnerable. I hid all of my feelings and hid myself and never wanted to deal with them. I drowned myself in drugs and alcohol to drown my feelings and emotions so that I would never feel them because I felt it would be “too much” for me to handle. Since getting sober, I’ve felt vulnerable many times. When talking about my son I feel vulnerable because I haven’t been around or present and in his life for a long time and I feel horrible about that. Another thing I’ve felt vulnerable about is talking about my family. I feel so bad for the wrongs I’ve done to them and these things make me want to cry and open up to people which is exactly opposite of what I tried so hard not to do when I was using and drinking. To me vulnerability is opening yourself up to people and letting them in and letting your emotions out. It is very uncomfortable to do so but when I’ve allowed myself to be vulnerable I can be real and honest with myself and others which will lead to growth and getting better. I’ve also struggled with being vulnerable and accepting help from people who care about me out of fear that they won’t accept me for who I am. So now that I’m sober and getting help from SOCD and Salina, I am slowly learning to get vulnerable and open up so that I can get help and maintain long term sobriety and be apart of my son’s life and be a good son to my parents.
Allowing myself to be vulnerable around others can be difficult. Unwanted feelings and emotions that have been stuffed away, come to the surface. This is often very uncomfortable and hard at times to endure. I used to think being vulnerable was a weakness but have realized it is a strength. After becoming vulnerable, I find relief and become more in tuned with myself. When I think of vulnerability, I think of being attacked or harmed emotionally or physically. Either way, exposing this state to others is a courageous act. Being vulnerable with others allows us to appreciate intimacy and closeness in our relationships. The more open we are, the less likely we will be hurt.
Something many of us yearn for in our relationship is a sense of security. We want to feel like no matter what, we will not be hurt in this love. Where there is doubt or insecurity, we view it as a sign something is wrong- that something needs to be fixed. If we can eradicate insecurity and vulnerability, then we think we will be “safe” and happy. But I’ve recently realized my attempts to feel invulnerable and secure make me more insecure through the loss of connection. Connection is what gives purpose and meaning to our lives. Humans are wired for connection and we need it to survive. There’s really only one variable separating the people who have a strong sense of belonging from those of us who struggle and long for it. Those who have a sense of belonging believe they’re worthy and embrace vulnerability. To me, vulnerability is the willingness to say “I love you” first, to put yourself out there even though you might get rejected. The willingness to open up and invest in a relationship even though it might not work out. It’s fundamental to true connection and love, but it’s scary and uncomfortable. My goal has always been to be in control, stay guarded, and avoid vulnerability like the plague. That’s why I’ve numbed uncomfortable feelings with drugs for so long. Unfortunately, you can’t selectively numb emotions. I can’t numb vulnerability or insecurity without numbing joy, gratitude, love and happiness. Accepting vulnerability is letting go of the idea of who I think I should be so I can be authentic, which is necessary for love, belonging and connection. Vulnerability isn’t comfortable for anyone but it’s what makes people beautiful. My life becomes very unsatisfying when I spend all my energy trying to be secure. True security means welcoming complexity, comfortability and the unknown. It means becoming vulnerable because that’s how we connect to one another- rather than being secure, in control and alone.
Showing humility is a big part of recovery. It is important to show it on a daily basis and to let go of all pride and ego. Humility is keeping an open mind and remaining willing to listen to and follow direction. It is definitely easier said than done but if you can master this, you will be successful in your journey of recovery. If you are unable to remain humble in the process of learning new things, you will eventually lose all peace and serenity. The act of obtaining a sponsor can be humbling as it can be difficult to put faith in one person to direct you down the path of recovery. Being a sponsor to somebody is also a humbling experience as being of service is important to maintaining sobriety. There is always somebody who needs help and there is always something new to learn.