I’m not selfish, although in my early addiction recovery the only person I wanted to help was myself. But no, I’m not selfish! I mean I guess I could be a little bit self-centered… but no, no not in a bad way!
I did things on purpose in early addiction recovery. This time everything had to be different. I used to resort back to old behavior, although I was clean. I was getting agitated with myself so I asked my sponsor, “What’s wrong with me? How do I change?”
My sponsor proceeded to walk into the meeting and we sat down at a table with everyone who had 20+ years in “recovery.” Yes, they weren’t just clean but they had earned some sense of how to change. My sponsor said to ask his sponsor that question (he was called my grand-sponsor, it was a family).
My grand-sponsors answer was looking at me and then said it, “What were you doing before?” I couldn’t think of one simple answer and he relieved the pressure as he said I don’t have to answer that but just think on it.
My grand-sponsor looks at me again and said, “If you’re uncomfortable with what you’re doing, then stop doing that. If you were in active addiction before, doing all of those things you’re thinking about, then in recovery you should be doing the COMPLETE opposite.”
This all seemed to make sense, right? I thought on it and came to one conclusion, I was selfish in my addiction. He concluded with this, though, “It’s 100% okay to be selfish in recovery.”
How was I supposed to make sense of this?
It was simple and started to make sense after a while. My sponsor explained what my grand-sponsor meant by this. He said before we were selfish to the point that we would do anything for that fix. He said that we were fixated on the fix and that was the selfish aspect on us then. He said we wouldn’t let anything get in the way of that fix, so what we did anything, hurt anyone, to get the fix.
He then went on to say that the concept of recovery is not being fixated on that fix but being fixated on doing the fixing of ourselves. This is where the selfish aspect comes into play.
If we would do anything in addiction to get the fix, we must go to any lengths to gain sobriety and not stop there. We must go to any lengths to gain recovery and a better peace within ourselves. This would require some selfish attitudes on our part still, although we would be changing for the better this time.
The selfish aspect comes into play here when we want to focus primarily on ourselves. But, if we don’t focus on fixing what had been driving us to drugs, alcohol, or sex (whatever your addiction is) then we would continue to hurt those around us. We must change everything we were doing into something we will do to become that better person, selfishly, but for being presently better for others, too.
I am not selfish. The point of this article is that I am not selfish, but at the same time I must be.
If I do not fix those actions that were driving me to use and abuse substances in my life, then I won’t be there for my mother, my brother, my father, my fiancé. If I don’t selfishly work on myself and fix those previous behaviors to something completely different than I won’t be able to be there for others.
Being selfish and focusing on ourselves in early recovery is something I want to say I am not, but I must be doing to be recovering for not just me, but my loved ones.
It’s okay to focus on yourself. It’s okay to do things that will benefit you positively in your lifestyle. The simple matter of the fact is that if you are not able to be present because an addiction is holding you back, that is more selfish than being selfish for a recovering reason.
There are different levels of selfish. If I need to take a night off because my body needs rest in recovery and I can’t go out bowling with the guys, then I will selfishly take the night off. That is one level of selfishness that is acceptable because you are now establishing what an addict never thought he or she would… boundaries.
Another selfish boundary that is acceptable is the word no. An addict is always the type of person that is going to try something once and say F-yes to doing it again after they’ve experimented. So, in recovery it’s not the just say no method, but it’s learning to selfishly say no in a way that benefits your recovery.
For example, if someone who is not an addict but is a friend of mine and says let’s go to the bar and watch Monday Night Football. You are selfishly saying no when they may be begging you to go, no is acceptable. The word no is okay when you know you will be uncomfortable in certain situations.
Now in addiction the roles are reversed. We would say no to a son for going to the baseball game because we know we wouldn’t make it the entire four hours without a fix or grabbing a beer from the aisle man. Do you see how the roles are reversed for being selfish? If we stay within our boundaries of recovery and say no to that negative lifestyle and stay on course with positivity in the “no” we can’t lose.
Take, for example, your little brother needs you to pick him up from “band camp” at 4:30 but you know that’s when you get a fix. You tell him yes, but you secretly know it is a no. What if that yes is secretly a no, you are ultimately holding onto your selfish boundaries that are within the addiction itself. There are varying levels of selfishness and some are healthy, and some are completely detrimental to you, your family and loved ones.
Take the selfish behavior on the right level, and change it
completely from what you would do in addiction to the 110% opposite.
Who is to say if you say no to your buddies for going out bowling and you stay in that your girlfriend (if you have one) won’t be extremely excited to watch a movie (hoping it’s action, not romance! Lol!).
These are the differences between the types of being selfish and how they will benefit you in recovery versus how they will make you be the opposite in addiction.
Now I’ll say it again… I’m not selfish! Well, maybe I am for the right reasons lol! But, I’m not selfishly feeding my addiction anymore, and I hope this will help keep things in perspective for you in early recovery. This is what was passed on to me by my sponsor and grand-sponsor and has worked for many other recovery families.
Take this with an ounce of truth and pound of love, my friends, this valuable advice could not only help your life but ease your mind when you’re feeling blue for simply just being you. It’s okay! I promise you that!
I AM NOT SELFISH!
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