Over the years of sobriety and recovery one of the things I have come to know is that I am not a broken person. I am not f*ed up beyond repair, or defective, or crazy, or any of the other things I thought about myself. The truth is, I spent a lot of years practicing really bad habits and I got really good at it.
I was a masterful liar and manipulator. I was a great actor when I needed to be. I was a very dedicated drunk with great commitment to perfecting my drinking skills. I was a great big baby who would throw a fit the very second I did not get my way and I was stubborn to a degree that I could be unbearable. These are the skills I practiced from the time I was a teenager, all the way through my twenties, and into my thirties. That is a lot of dedication and a lot of practice.
What I think is funny, is that when we get sober it’s like we have these expectations of ourselves to be all fixed. Like when I stopped guzzling tequila all of a sudden all of my bad habits, behaviors, and character defects would magically vanish. It simply is not realistic.
As a sober person, I have to learn new skills. First, I have to allow some space to be teachable. I have to be willing to learn new skills. Then, I need people with experience to teach me these new skills and new ways of doing things. Then, I have to practice.
If I look back over my years of drinking I can clearly see that how I drank at the end was very different from how I drank at the beginning. In the beginning a few drinks went a long way, by the end I drank 3 at a time. All of those years in between I was practicing.
It has taken me years of practice to get good at my new skills. I have practiced autonomy rather than co-dependence; honesty rather than lying; sober instead of drunk; acceptance rather than judgmental. But that doesn’t mean that I am always good at all my new skills. It means that I am practicing and sometimes I will make mistakes. The important thing is that I continue to practice and become better at being the person I want to be.
Practice makes perfect.