After eighty years of life, and almost 19 years of continuous serene sobriety, I have a few observations about my ego.
I don’t claim a unique path of any growth or fall-backs. Here are some random thoughts:
First, let me tell you what my ego is and how it reveals itself. Sometimes it comes when I am stressed out, under a lot of pressure, over-scheduled, tied up in the old “should-ought-musts,” or just plain worn-out. I think it is accompanied in my case by the “poor me’s.” That is, “I’m so burdened, I have to think of JIM to the exclusion of others and I deserve [ …something …]. And, in the old days that “something” was always that old addictive substance.
Second, it also seems to come about when I have not been able to complete some personal tasks that have been postponed, partly by over-scheduling. For example, when I have made a commitment to write an article, or attend a meeting, or just plain trying to take an hour or two so I can quietly read a new library book.
Third, I believe that when we took the first 3 Steps we were essentially our old worn ego, the old “me-first” attitude. That feeling that we could control everything, that we were so important and others got in our way to stop us from doing important stuff. Like our addiction, that seemingly sudden re-emergence of our ego as our guiding light reflects our ego’s own essence – it’s “cunning, baffling, powerful.”
Fourth, when I sense my ego’s call I have to stop and ask the question, “Is this a result of a return of the old ‘me-first” attitude?”
Fifth, I think the curtailing or abandonment of our ego is life’s guiding light. Essentially, it is surrendering to the Will of God. It’s quite simple, actually: “my will or God’s Will for us.” Have we prayed about our over-scheduled lives and asked for His Will for us in that regard? Are we the only ones that can do a particular assignment we have assumed responsibility for? Are we really in charge of life’s activities or do we ask for divine guidance? Are we just looking for lots of praise?
Sixth, this last point is for some the center of the problem, for many of us trace our own personalities back to the teen years of inferiority complexes, lack of self-esteem, always seeking the praise of others, using an over-schedule to achieve a degree of prominence based on our excessive work for the group.
Seventh, we need to be aware that the stresses of this attitude, of “I can do it all,” leads sometimes to frustrations, stress, self-pity, anger, resentments. And then, at some point may turn into a relapse--an escape from the chaos we have created.
So, check that old “ego-meter” periodically. If it’s somewhat out-of-balance, get to a meeting, call your sponsor. Refresh yourself again about your abandonment of that “me-first” command and stick with all you have learned and worked through in the Program. Ask what God’s Will is for you and the power to carry it out. That will keep you centered and in the right direction.
BUT, there’s always a” but” in life, and I’ve run out of space. So watch for future sections of “EGO.” The teaser is that we will discuss in Part 2 “the good ego” in all of us.
Jim A. Covington, Kentucky