Before I found recovery, I was an incredibly cynical person.
- I disdained participation in every meeting I was forced to attend, what could I possibly learn from someone else that wasn’t a waste of my time?
- I hated “planned” group activities and the “childish” things that always came with them.
- I distrusted all displays of emotion and all calls to faith
The idea of going to a meeting, holding hands, and looking other people in the eye would have been exactly the kind of “kumbaya” moment that would have made me break out in hives.
So, what was really happening here?
My Core Narcissism
At the heart of my problem (and resulting addictive behaviors) was a refusal to see the world through any eyes but my own.
I believed that no problem could be solved without me and that all solutions were likely to come from me.
The only thing I had faith in was myself. And when things went wrong, it was always someone else’s fault (or something I could fix or manage myself).
I was building a personal world where working with other people was barely necessary. Where other people were only pawns to be moved on my board. Where I never really “needed” anyone else (and certainly not meetings or support).Where I had put myself at the center and everyone else at the periphery.
Where I needed nobody and was never truly open to intimacy or vulnerable to being hurt.
Faith Works 2 Ways
After years of using my narcissism to protect myself from being open to other people, I was faced, after my arrest, with the hard truth that I could not save myself.
I started to attend meetings, and open myself to people and faith in ways I would never have allowed before.
I am now a person of faith and I have found, since finding recovery, that my faith works two ways:
- I have faith that a power greater than myself can solve my problems
- I have faith that I, often, cannot solve my own problems
In other words, I came to believe that God can and would solve my problems and also that I was “Not God” (there is a great book by Ernest Kurtz with that title about this same subject).
Last night at one of my meetings, we discussed the second step of the 12-steps, and the discussion reminded me that the second step is a call to exactly this kind of faith. The second step is a call to confront our protective narcissism and to open ourselves to real connection and intimacy with other people.
Now, whenever I feel myself starting to “roll my eyes” or cynically withdraw from any suggested group activity, I try to put in the context of my faith and join in!