“We have two lives, and the second begins when we realise we only have one.”
To get straight to the point I am becoming a better person with each passing day in recovery and I can see and feel myself growing during this journey. As I have talked about before, when I entered recovery I hated the person who I was inside, I didn’t really know who that person was, who I was or who I was supposed to be. Recovery has given me an opportunity to create the person I want to become but it has taken a lot of hard work and a lot of digging.
I will kick off with one of my old favourites “HOW” which as you know stands for Honesty, Open Mindedness and Willingness. Those three traits now flow through me at all times which when I consider who I was less than a year ago is quite frightening. I used to lie everyday about something, at least one thing and now I struggle to keep things to myself, in fact I probably find it impossible. Luckily I have such an amazing support network around me that I don’t have to keep things to myself anymore. Open Mindedness again is new to me and it was hard at the start because I had to check my ego at the door when I entered recovery. I was never open to anything else because if it wasn’t my opinion or my idea then it sucked. If I was forced to go along with it I would do my best to ruin it because that’s just who I was, an asshole. In recovery I love being presented with new ideas or opinions and even if I don’t like them or agree with them I am getting better at appreciating other points of view. Finally we have willingness and again, outside of gambling, I wasn’t willing to do anything or try anything new. I had no interest and I also believe I had a fear of trying something new because I was scared it would expose me as the fraud I was. Whereas now I am willing to try different things and put myself out there. The biggest example is this blog, I have never in my life put myself out there as much as I do on this blog and I love doing it. It helps me so much and the feedback I get from other people is that it helps them which is great encouragement to keep going.
Another huge trait I have gained is empathy which is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. (I never used to look up the meaning of words until I entered recovery...thank you Dan for that habit!) When I was in active addiction I couldn’t even understand and share my own feelings nevermind giving a shit about someone else's. This journey has given me empathy and it has been so important for me as I feel like it allows me to have connections with people I quite honestly have rarely made in my life. I feel so close to people I have met in recovery, the bond we share is unbelievable and the support we give each other is like nothing I have seen.
I was a selfish bastard when I was gambling and as far as I was concerned the world revolved around me. Turns out that was incorrect. I have started to become someone who actually cares about other people but not only that I want to help other people...without looking for anything in return! It’s a crazy concept I know but I find myself helping people for the right reasons. My favourite step is Step 12, “Having made an effort to practice these principles in all our affairs, we tried to carry this message to other compulsive gamblers.” I love nothing more than doing that and you know what, I am good at it. I have been told I have an ability for recovery and I have so much to give others and I have a desire to do that as well. I sponsor two people now and a few months ago I was like there’s no chance I’m sponsoring anyone but now I am so glad I am because it not only gives me an opportunity to help people but also the relationships that are growing out of that are extremely important to me and rewarding.
I touched on it slightly above but I have become more self confident as this journey has progressed and it’s not in a negative way, it’s not becoming cocky, I am simply starting to believe in myself and what I have to offer not only those closest to me but to others as well. I still find it hard writing or saying good things about myself as for years I have always assumed people who did that were full of themselves but I am working on trying to overcome that. I am realising it is a good thing to realise what I am good at and express it as well. My self esteem was non existent for a long time and honestly it’s only over the last few months I am making strides in trying to improve it.
I want to finish with this because it’s the most important thing in my life and it’s how I will be remembered when I am gone. I am becoming a better father to my kids. They are my Higher Power and they are a huge part of the reason I want to continually improve myself. Am I the perfect Dad? Absolutely not, I’m still grumpy and miserable at times because as anyone who has kids knows...they can be fucking hard work a lot of the time. The difference is that I am present now not just in body but in mind as well when I am with them. I feel closer to them over the past year than I ever have and recovery has given my kids a Dad they can be proud of.