The Courage to Surrender, Part 17 in a Series, by john w

Happiness can Breed Happiness – 1981 

Although alcohol and drugs made me feel higher than life when I celebrated, the subsequent crash left me alone to flounder in a pool of self-pity.  Success or failure didn’t make any difference I couldn’t cope with either, so drinking and using followed the challenges in my life. I was constantly searching for peace and a secure feeling that I was safe and help would be there when life’s troubles came my way.  Any feelings of well-being were an illusion and help never arrived.

During recovery, I found that real peace and serenity were only achieved when my mind was free from mind-altering substances and I had a spiritual connection. Once I believed in a power greater than myself, both life-long disappointments vanished, as that power was always with me and life’s problems were often solved in ways I never imagined.  Often his solutions weren’t my ideas and his timing was not mine.  But with patience, I came to believe I would be OK and my problems would be solved. What was fear at the beginning became faith and that became spirituality that grew into my soul.

I was a functional drinker holding down a high pressure technology position and being an integral part of my family in spite of my secret life.  As hard as I tried, I couldn’t make everyone in my family feel happy and as a consequence I didn’t feel happy. It was just another attempt to control others to my way of thinking.  Over time, I learned that happiness comes from within so I focused on those things within my control that made me happy.

While it’s true that laughing can be contagious, I found that happy positive people can sometimes break down emotional walls in a way that others can accept feeling good about themselves and their lives.  Happiness can breed happiness.  It turned out that I was happiest when the people I loved were happy. Once again, I learned that whatever I tried to control actually controlled me.

After a couple years on my bottom, the expectations of me at home and at work felt overwhelming. I had too many responsibilities so I cut corners and used short-term solutions to keep pace with my changing roles.  I was taking on new issues before I could complete old ones.  I wrote lists for everything I had to do including my career schedule, house remodeling, ball games, kids’ events and bill paying. People laughed at the dog-eared crumpled pieces of paper with cryptic notes scribbled in all directions with the arrows pointing to my future.

The lists served as my short-term memory. Life continued to get more complex with every item I squeezed into one of my many to-do lists. I cross-referenced lists and tracked items to maintain control, but sometimes I got lost micro-managing tasks for large scale projects.  At times, I thought of my family as people doing work-type projects with tasks and expected results.  It was decades before I understood God’s plans were the only ones that mattered.

I worked on several top priority projects simultaneously, until my ambition and sense of urgency took over my ability to complete anything.  I was organized to a fault as I drilled-down on every task compiling detail lists I created when I was drinking, using and obsessing.  I was able to rid myself of guilt for times when I was high by jotting down the things I wasn’t doing. My bottom line was to live in the present, plan for the future and try to enjoy the paths in between.

My life was unmanageable.

Next:    How people look and act means very little about thier child inside. I was an egomaniac with low self-esteem. I had another presentation, another chance at advancement and another opportunity to screw it up.

The articles published here by babyboomers.com are small excerpts of a 268 page manuscript titled “The Courage to Surrender” that I would like published. Call 678.361.4709 for information on the manuscript.

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