I’ve mentioned this before in previous posts, a sense of ‘not being enough’. It was something I had heard in the rooms when I first started out in AA, but was never sure of what it meant exactly. At this point in my recovery I have a better understanding, or at least my own understanding of what this means and wanted to share my experience.

As alcoholics our thinking has been warped, we’ve been driven by fear, we feel insecure in ourselves, unable to connect with our emotions, people around us, the world around us. We drank to disconnect ourselves from this, the more we drank our spiritual condition worsened, our downward spiral continued.

In my case that sense of ‘not being enough’ comes down to self worth and self-esteem. When I was drinking I would build a false sense of self-esteem by chasing material things, spending money to make myself feel better or impress people, or rise through the ranks at work to have a sense of importance and power over others. I felt I had to win, that this would make me feel better about myself, about who I was. A quote from the 12&12 has struck a cord with me whilst writing this:

As to our gradiose behaviour, we insisted that we had been possessed of nothing but a high and legitimate ambition to win the battle of life.

Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions (p127)

As I’ve learned in the programme, I was chasing the wrong solution to this lack of self worth, to my low self-esteem, I was driven by fear, by insecurity and used these things to try and fill the hole I felt inside, the ‘hole in the soul’ as we call it in the programme.

True self esteem I’ve learned comes from helping others, through humility, through building your spiritual condition and doing esteemable acts. Over time, by working the programme I’ve begun to practice these things. I try to be more helpful and useful in my working and personal life and in the programme through service. I try to give to world where I can, rather than take from it. Gratitude has played an important part, helping me recognise how fortunate I am, I’ve also gained perspective through being able to read the gratitude of other fellows

Working the steps themselves has also helped build my sense of worth. Steps Four and Five helped me to recognise my past behaviours and gave me the gift of forgiveness. Becoming willing to make amends for my past to those I had hurt through Step 9 allowed me to clear some of the past resentment and wreckage that I’ve been carrying, and most importantly helped me to accept my past, move on an embrace a new way of living. Now I try to act from love rather than from my fear-driven defects, which as I saw in my Step Five, I had been doing my entire life.

So has anything changed? Do I feel enough today? It’s something that changes over time, my underlying fears and defects will always be there. Some days I still have a sense of fear, things come into my mind that make me doubt myself, but by working the programme I’m finding day by day, I am slowly beginning to feel more confident in myself, I can feel myself becoming a more helpful, useful person who is able and willing help others. There are days when I look at my life and can say honestly, that today I am enough. It’s a great feeling and so far from what I used to feel before, and I have this programme to thank for it.

/ Jay