Progress Check: Addressing my fears from earlier this year

I am finding that the holidays are a time for reflection, a time to look back at the year, to check in on myself and the progress that I’ve made, not only with sobriety, but with life.  This holiday season is especially hard because I am not at home in Worthington at the house that I grew up in.  What makes it even harder is that this Christmas will be the last year that part of my roots will be in Worthington as my mom has made the decision to join me out west in Oregon. I will no longer be able to call 22 Harvey Road my home.

Earlier this year I felt compelled to write out my fears.  Here is that list, as written in February 2015:

Today here are the things that I fear:

– I fear being alone
– I fear that I’ve lost friends because of how open I have been during the last year about my struggles with sobriety
– I fear that because of the societal stigma of alcoholism/addiction that I will never find a partner in life
– I fear that I am unlikable as a person
– I fear that life-balance is not within my reach
– I fear that my past transgressions in life will haunt me forever
– I fear that I will never amount to anything
– I fear that I will miss out on the last ever Motley Crue tour
– I fear that I will never get to travel to parts of the world that I have never seen like Italy, Australia, the Caribbean, hell, Alabama for that matter
– I fear that my introversion will prevent me from sustaining any meaningful future relationships

Here is a brief look at how my fears from earlier this year sit today:

– I fear being alone – I still have this fear; however, as I grow more comfortable in sobriety and in my own skin, this fear is beginning to pass.  I am surrounded by an amazing team of people at the moment.

– I fear that I’ve lost friends because of how open I have been during the last year about my struggles with sobriety – I no longer have this fear.  I may have lost touch with friends from the past for whatever reason, maybe it was because of sobriety, maybe not.  However, the people who have come in to my life over the last year have been some of the most caring, kind, and supportive people.  I feel very lucky with the company that I keep today.

– I fear that because of the societal stigma of alcoholism/addiction that I will never find a partner in life – I no longer have this fear.  I believe that if I am true to my heart and to myself that I will, and may just have, found that person who will stand by me for who I am today.

– I fear that I am unlikable as a person – I’m beginning to let go of this fear.  As time goes on and I become more and more comfortable with myself I realize that I may just be likable.  This is a work in progress.

– I fear that life-balance is not within my reach – This is still a struggle.  With the work/life transition that I undertook this past summer I am still trying to find the right balance between work, athletics, sobriety, and life.  The more time that goes by I am finding that they may just all blend together.  In large part I do still feel that I am unwinding from the corporate mindset that I was in for the better part of a decade.  Taking things day by day helps me to work through this challenge.

– I fear that my past transgressions in life will haunt me forever – I no longer have this fear.  I am comfortable knowing that my past is, in fact, my past.  What’s done is done.  I live for the day, not yesterday, not tomorrow, TODAY.

– I fear that I will never amount to anything – This fear is slowing beginning to pass with time.  I understand that I have taken a risk in making the leap to start my own business.  In all honesty, I don’t have the time or the energy to worry about never amounting to anything.

– I fear that I will miss out on the last ever Motley Crue tour – I kicked the living shit out of this fear.  I got to see the Crue twice on their last tour, both with #10.  Once in Eugene, once in Portland.  #RIPmotleycrue.

– I fear that I will never get to travel to parts of the world that I have never seen like Italy, Australia, the Caribbean, hell, Alabama for that matter – This fear doesn’t exist as strongly as it did earlier this year.  I am finding that if I keep up with networking and building my new business then I may have the opportunity to travel the world.

– I fear that my introversion will prevent me from sustaining any meaningful future relationships – I no longer have this fear.  Even as an introvert I have met some amazing people this past year.  I feel lucky to be an introvert because I am being true to myself and true to my heart.  I am finding that as this continues to happen I meet more and more people who mean the world to me.

My hope in sharing this progress is that someone, somewhere, can know that they are not alone when it comes to living with fear.  I am finding that fear is common, it’s just a matter of what we do with that fear.  Do we let it stifle us?  Or, do we let it go?  I do not have the answer, just my experience.

Merry Christmas Eve!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Endless Loop of Feedback

Earlier this week I was given some unsolicited professional advice about how I am running and building my new business. It was an interesting exchange, not in the content of what was said necessarily, but how I reacted.  In this case the source of the feedback knew very little of what they were talking about, their comments were made under the assumption that they knew the whole story.  Certainly, they did not.  I was left wondering what their agenda was in giving me such feedback.  My hunch was that it wasn’t because they had my best interests in mind.

In the past, even as early as 6 months ago, I would have taken any unsolicited feedback, regardless of the source, and shoved it back in your face.  I didn’t want to hear it, especially from anyone who did not know the full story of what they were talking about.  I remember early in sobriety I had one friend tell me that I wasn’t an alcoholic, that I just needed a break from drinking.  Again, this comment was made by someone who had not cared to ask for, and understand, the full spectrum of what I was going through.  Contempt prior to investigation. They were adamant, based on the little they knew of me, that I, in fact, was not an alcoholic.

Early in sobriety any sort of feedback from friends and family was hard to swallow.  Everyone in my life seemed to have an opinion.  I had a lot of internal anger and resentment that was clouding my intake of any such information, positive or negative.  I had no way of processing praise, criticism, and everything in between.  Now, almost two years into the process of sobriety I am beginning to understand that my defensiveness was indeed my ego firmly at work.  Perhaps that was it’s way of staying in control without the liquid courage of alcohol to back it up, by telling everyone that I was smarter than, greater than, etc.  It was a vicious cycle.

Today, even as the unsolicited feedback loop continues to flow, I am much more conscious of how to react, what to say, and most importantly, what not to say.  For this, I credit my own personal Board of Advisers.

Over the last half-year I have aligned myself with certain people in my life that I can trust, who know my full story, to lean on when I have a question or need advice. If I had listened and took in every piece of advice that was thrown my way I would have never got anything done, Betsy and I would have not had been able to launch our business the way we have, and I’d be stuck spinning in circles.

My Board of Advisers includes people who can offer law advice, training advice, business advice, relationship advice, spiritual advice, advice on sobriety, and advice on friendships, among many other things.  I chose these people because I have the relationship and trust with them that they will not bring their personal agendas into my business, be it personal or professional.  They truly have my best interests at heart.  If it weren’t for these key relationships I might just be back in the dive bars or my car with my trusty old bottle of Crown Royal.  That isn’t interesting to me any longer.

Lately I’ve talked to many folks who have gone through their own personal transitions in life.  One of the common threads that I hear is that when this occurs they have to limit their exposure to negative people in their life.  I am coming to find that everyone has their own baggage, it’s not just me.  The two biggest differences that I see now in those that are successful in life change  is: 1). They take an honest inventory of their own baggage;  2). They do NOT project that baggage onto others.  I know that in the past, when I was feeling desperate, lonely, and vulnerable, I would drink and take in other people’s baggage.  Today, I feel lucky that I don’t need to internalize this baggage and energy and that I can protect myself from the ambient noise that surrounds us everywhere.

Respect the Process Spence, you’re only getting started.

 

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