The other day, a friend of mine told me he read our Dogs and Other Unsolicited Advice introductory post and thought, “Wow, she really put it all out there.” I kind of chuckled and said, “Yeah, it’s therapeutic for me. When I put everything out there, no one can hold anything against me.” Secrets die in the light of exposure. Because, the reality of it is that if I put it out there, I don’t have to live with the paranoia of who’s going to find out what and then expose me for who I really am? I don’t have to worry about which friends I’ve told certain things to and which I haven’t and wonder if they’re going to keep it to themselves. I can show you who I am and you can choose to participate or not. But more importantly than anything else, when I put it all out there, it gives someone hope. Hope that they can change or someone they love can change. I’m a firm believer that no matter how far gone you think someone is, as long as there’s life, as long as there’s breath, there’s hope.
When I had about a year clean, I was complaining to an old-timer about not wanting to share during meetings. And he told me something I’ll never forget. He said, “Once you get clean and stay clean, it’s not about you anymore, it’s about the newcomer. And if you don’t share your experience, strength and hope with the newcomer, you’re robbing them of the opportunity to get better, to learn how to live without using dope.” In NA, we have this saying, “You can only keep what you have by giving it away.” And in that moment, it all made perfect sense. When I stopped making it about me, I learned that it is not a job, or a burden, but an absolute privilege, to share my experiences with others.
That didn’t mean I immediately started sharing without fear. At the end of the day, my defects are driven by my fears and my fears are driven by my self-centered nature: fear of rejection, fear of not enough (whatever it may be – love, sex, money, food). It wasn’t until I worked some more steps with my sponsor and started looking at those defects and fears that I was able to do anything about them. I started to apply the same principle to my defects as I did to the dope – I have to surrender to them. The more I fight them, the more they show up in my life and the more unmanageable and out of control they make me feel. Rather than try to suppress my defects, I just try to insert another spiritual principle in there with that self-centered fear. So I start with courage; I share even though its uncomfortable. Then I add trust; I trust that no one will judge me. Then I add faith; I have faith that even if people judge me, it’s okay anyway. The more “good” principles I add into any given scenario, the less room my defects have. My fear, my ego, my lack of humility all take a backseat when I invite spiritual principles into my life.
So, as I was finishing the 7th step, I had an awakening of sorts. Only when I surrender to who I am, do I have complete freedom to be me. When I stop looking outside and focusing on any and everything except me, when I stop comparing myself with everyone else, I learned about self-love and true self-acceptance. It took a lot of work, looking at me, sitting still with self, living with transparency and with integrity. Personal responsibility: what is mine to own and what’s not? Often times people confuse integrity with doing the right thing when no one is looking, but when defined, it literally means “to be whole and undivided” which in turn means I must live wholly. When I am showing the world ALL of me – good, bad, indifferent – I am living with integrity. When I am living by MY morals and values, no matter what others think, I am living with integrity. When I am carrying the message, I am living with integrity.
My sponsor explained to me that it’s like everyone is on a certain wavelength and they hear things in a certain frequency and my job is to find people that are on my frequency. My story and method of delivery isn’t for everyone. And that’s okay. But I must continue to share for those people that are “my people” and hear things in the frequency in which I speak. You may read that a few times and it may not seem to make much sense, but one day it will. Every single day that I continue to invite people into my life, and give them access to the real me, out in the world and via a dog and drugs related Facebook page, the more I’m becoming the woman God always intended for me to be. And that woman can change the world. What’s my point? My Unsolicited Advice: start being who you’re supposed to be and your world will change.
Dogs and Other Unsolicited Advice pups approve this message. Except Kilo. 🤷🏼♀️