Uncover to Discover
When I walked into the world of recovery just over eleven years ago, my understanding of sobriety meant that we just do not drink or use no matter what. I did know anything about doing the steps or how my life could change. But what I was seeing was a lot of people who were not drinking or using, yet their lives were still in shambles. I would hear things like – Hey I’m not drinking or using, what else do you want out of me. Or – My life is far worse off today than it was when I was drinking, therefor I might as well go ahead and drink. I became very confused with this, as I wanted a better life for myself.
Then I got my sponsor and he explained to me that there was a difference between sobriety and recovery. Let me clarify at this point that there are several definitions of both sobriety and recovery. What is in this writing is what I have come to understand the two to mean. He explained to me that a lot of people are “sober” but not recovered. Recovery involves uncovering and discovering. On Pg. 64 of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous it says this – Our liquor was but a symptom. So we had to get down to causes and conditions. This is the “uncover and discover” portion of recovery. I asked my sponsors and mentors what exactly it was that I was going to discover. Their answer was two things – the underlying root issues that had caused me to start drinking and continue to drink as well as discovering my authentic self. The self God had created me to be.
For the first time in my life, someone had allowed me to talk about my feelings and fears without judgment or being shut down. I was listened to with empathy and understanding. Because my sponsors and mentors did not tell me to get over it or to forgive, forget and move on, I became willing to do the deep work to discover who I really was. For thirty-eight years I lived as a victim of emotional, physical, spiritual and sexual abuse. I would pull my victim card every chance I had, telling people – If what happened to me happened to you, you’d be drinking and acting this way as well. Simply put, I was drinking because I was a victim. I had a lot of work to do.
For thirty-eight years I let what happened to me define me. I was full of self-doubt, low-self esteem and low-self worth. Yet on the outside looking in I appeared to have it all together. I was successful in business, had a nice home, beautiful wife and children, drove nice cars and traveled all over the states and world. Yet inside I was dying. In fact, my friends would look at me and ask me what was wrong with me, why was I so miserable and angry?
As my journey in recovery progressed and more of the onion was being peeled back, I realized that I had no idea who I was. In Don Miguel Ruiz’s book – The Four Agreements – he talks about the “domestication of self,” how before we are born our parents have decided how our life will turn out for us. What our name will be, what church we will go to, what religion we will follow, what schools we go to and what career path we will take. For many of us we had absolutely no say in any of it. I was one of those boys.
I had an idea who I was in life as a man. My parents immediately blocked every path I started to walk down that did not align with their plan for me. All I could identify with was my abuse. As life went on I started looking around at the people I associated with, of which most were successful entrepreneurs, so I began imitating their lives. I wanted what many of them had, so I did what they did. I worked hard like they did, spent money like they did, drank and did drugs like they did and had and affair like they did. I even became successful like they did. All I wanted was to fit in and be accepted. But I was loosing myself.
In my recovery process and with the help of my sponsors/mentors, I began to see where I had sacrificed my true self at any cost just to fit in, and my transformation began. I was feeling real good about who I was becoming as a man. My self-confidence and self-esteem/worth was coming back. I was discovering who Randy really was. Then in 2006, because of the economical down turn, I had to close the doors of the business that I spent twenty years building. What I did not realize was how much my identity was tied to that business. There I was, left torn wide open with the one thing I had that made me feel important taken away from me. Now who am I thought?
Since 2006 more of the onion has been peeled and I have discovered a lot about myself, the true authentic Randy. What happened to me is only something I had experienced and it does not define me. What I do is just what I do and in no way defines who I am. It was only when I lost all of those “things” that I discovered who I really was. I am a man of God, a loving husband, father, friend, mentor, athlete, teacher, student, and so much more. I recently rode my bicycle across America for the Courageous Healers Foundation to bring awareness, and a message of hope and healing to the boys and men that have been sexually abused. On that forty day and forty-night trip, so much more was revealed to me about who I really am. But that’s a story for another time.