With all due respect to Frank Sinatra, one of the biggest mistakes I have ever made has been my insistence of doing things "My Way". I find, as a recovering alcoholic, that my first thought is usually the wrong one. The first chosen course of action is usually the one that gets me in trouble. More importantly, the first time I rear back and tell someone I am not willing to have them tell me what to do, when that person has rarely (if ever) steered me in the wrong direction, will be the time I have deliberately and intentionally stepped off the path of sobriety and run screaming into the meadow marked Self Will Run Riot, waving my arms above my head and declaring for all to see that I know what is best so you better just back off and stop trying to make me be something I am not!
Of course, usually, that 'something' they are trying to make me be is a woman of grace and dignity...a woman who walks without fear, and can look at people in the eye. The people who have lead me in my recovery are always those men and women who are, essentially, kind and loving. They do not gather in groups and "mean girl" their fellow human beings, as though they were in 7th grade sitting at the 'cool table' in the cafeteria. They may not like someone but they treat that person with the dignity they deserve simply because they ARE a human being. They rely upon God in every aspect of their lives, wanting only to do what is right and not what is wrong. And when they do make a mistake - lose their temper, act in a less than kind manner, become mired in self pity - they turn to someone THEY rely upon and say, "Tell me where I have gone wrong and help me get back on track". More importantly, they do not assume they have the answer to how to correct their behavior. What they know is, if they were doing everything right? The lost temper, the mean behavior, the less than stellar actions would never have happened.
Because those are the types I hang with, I do not see that as remarkable - until it does become remarkable. In other words, I realize how amazing it is to practice the virtues of humility and obedience when I see them NOT practiced. When I see the opportunity to become a better person disdained it is astonishing to me. When I see one of us offered the chance to move from being childish, self-centered and fear-ridden to being able to walk with their head held high, look others in the eye without any shame and feel the Sunlight of the Spirit on their face and they say "no" I am flabbergasted.
Look, not everyone has to do sobriety my way. I'm not saying that at all. Lots of people think me and my type are really over-the-top when it comes to appearance and vocabulary and how we carry ourselves. Shoot, at one meeting, I overheard me and my sisters in sobriety referred to as "Revlon Row" because we all show up dressed business casual, our make up done and our hair in place.
I also get that for a lot of people who come from real sludge piles the best they are going to be is physically sober. I understand that, I wish them well and I love them. They are doing the best they can with what they have; however, I also know that many of us use that phrase 'I am doing the best I can with what I have' as an excuse instead of challenging ourselves and saying, out loud, "I am doing the best I can, and I want to kick it up a notch so tell me what to do and I will do it".
I honestly thought, when I first entered into the Sobriety World, that everyone was there to learn to be better. I found out the hard way, and continue to be reminded, that my initial idea is just not true. Many of us are here to just stop drinking and stop using drugs. We are here to make sure we are well enough to have a place to live and toilet paper. Ask us to stretch, to trust, to try harder and to do something that scares us and we get aggressive, mean and haughty. We leap onto the back of our high horse and we dare the rest of you tell us where to ride.
I am eternally grateful that, for whatever reason, I have done what I was told. I didn't always like it. In fact I often found the directions insulting. How dare they tell me how to dress or where to go or how to express myself? Today, what I know, is this: if I had insisted on doing things my way I would be one ugly drunk today - sober or not.
And I do not want to be that woman - the one with tons of years and an ugly, shriveled heart.
I do not want to do it My Way today.
I think I will do it His Way and see what happens.