Written on Day 31 of Sobriety
One of my close friends is constantly lamenting “the snowflake generation.” For a couple years I’ve just let her vent and not really thought about it. But recently, while sitting in a meeting, I was hit full-force with the realization that being alone is a selfish choice that enables us to wallow in hyperbolic dispair.
In our hyper-connected world, authentic connection is a rare gift, but it doesn’t have to be. I have no idea how many nights I sat at home with a bottle of wine, the TV and my dogs thinking nobody understood me, I was unloveable and had no purpose. Meanwhile, somewhere nearby people were connecting and saying, “come over here, there’s light and laughter and we want to share it.”
“Those people” were sitting in an AA meeting. They had “real” problems. I cataloged all the differences between them and myself. They were batshit crazy, drinking kool-aid, and living in denial of the “real world.” I didn’t belong because my problems were special. I was special. I am special.
Who hasn’t watched Jerry Springer or some other show to feel “normal?” Every episode of Intervention reminded me I wasn’t a real alcoholic because I didn’t do A, B and C like the person on the show. I was a very selfish, unique, and dazzling snowflake with an outstanding talent for finding differences instead of commonality with others. I was too good for admitting I had a problem (in my own mind). I’m ashamed to say it, but if I don’t name it I cannot move forward, so there it is in all its ugly honesty, PRIDE.
Then a funny thing happened, I became vulnerable and authentic. I went to a meeting and listened with an open mind. Then another and then another. And this amazing yet very basic recognition hit me — we are all fighting the same demons. The very same bastards that were stealing my joy were crippling others. All the people in the room with me in one way or another had felt like they weren’t enough, they were in pain, and they needed to silence the voice in their head. For a period of time, alcohol was an effective numbing agent. (of course, until it wasn’t and became a life-threatening problem).
So I stopped focusing on the fact that I’m a snowflake and started focusing on the fact that I’m in a world made of snow, instead of my uniqueness I’m focused on finding commonalities and looking at ways to connect. This allows me to take what someone has to offer (in terms of advice, wisdom, and compassion) and use it to better myslef and feel joy. I’m taking off my mask of perfection and admitting that I have some big flaws and that’s OK as long as I work on them. And the more I admit that, the better connections I’m forming with people I never would have met otherwise.
My goal is to build a life so rich that I don’t want to miss a second of it by drinking.