I’ve been contemplating the word “proud” lately. To say I’m proud of myself feels strange and uncomfortable. Talking with a friend yesterday the word “humility” came up. The first time I felt true humility was when I flew out of Yellowknife, NWT for the first time on one engine. Away from civilization and into the vast wilderness that is the north. Facing the most frightening weather conditions, with clouds only about 50 feet off the ground, navigating the seemingly impossible. Flying a half mile at a time, praying I was on the right track to my destination. Map reading inch by inch, thinking to myself, what the hell am I doing out here, alone, afraid and flying an airplane in these conditions!
Somehow feeling a connection to the early pioneers that must have felt the same on their voyages such as mine. Returning safely from my mission, humility would soon fade to a drunken state. False pride appeared and I’d forget how lucky I was just to have come out of such a harrowing experience. That went on for some time; fear and humility went hand in hand.
Humility would come again much later in life, when I found myself in 5 south, a psychiatric ward. The days I spent in there were a constant reminder of how I took so much for granted. Now living this new life I’ve been given, humility and gratitude are inseparable. In the past, I believed all my accomplishments and achievements were of my own doing, rarely considering something greater than myself was at play. How things have changed since then.
Now I’m living on the opposite side of the spectrum. I fully believe without God (a power greater than myself) I wouldn’t have been able to remain sober. I wouldn’t have been able to make the changes I have thus far, nor accomplish all I have up to now.
Humility has taught me how to put my pride and ego aside — most importantly, it has taught me how to ask for help… how to learn to listen, and listen to learn. All pride can’t be eradicated, some must remain, but humility keeps pride in check. To say I’m not proud of myself would be a lie, although having too much scares me. It takes someone else to remind me of how hard I’ve worked to change everything in my life. This business of staying living sober is by far the most difficult and challenging thing I’ve ever done, along with managing my depression and anxiety at the same time.
The work is humbling, yet greatly rewarding. You only get out what you put in and the more you put in the more you receive. Humility is also a form of trust for me. I never really trusted others, especially myself. So learning to trust again is a scary experience; especially when you’ve been let down so many times. Yet in order to trust you have to start somewhere. Trusting in the not yet seen. Trusting that not everyone is out to get you, putting paranoia aside, judgement and doubt.
Over this whole experience I’m learning, slowly, how to trust myself. How to trust people again, and that’s only possible by practicing humility and honesty. I never believed people ever really wanted to hear the truth. I was even in denial about it. If “they” knew the truth about all the agony and pain inside, my internal dialogue, how I wanted to die, how awful I felt…. People don’t want to hear about that shit, because they usually have enough of their own.
The bullshit came to an abrupt and sudden end in 5 south, when I could no longer pretend. I laid it on thick, playing the victim, acting the martyr. The professionals I was dealing with were experts on my kind of bullshit, and could see right through me. The gig was up and that whole experience humbled me to the core. All that was left was to be honest and trust in strangers that held my fate in their hands and pray for the best.
You’ve got to have a certain amount of humility to be truly honest. The more honest with yourself you are, the greater humility you feel and then you can finally stop being the victim and start taking responsibility. Humility is a form of responsibility, and being accountable for your actions. If you have no humility, you’re just full of yourself, as I was. There was no room for anything or anyone but me, and now I see that was my main problem.
Humility is a huge part of my life now, a true gift from God. I’ve managed to make room for good things now, like honesty, accountability, responsibility, love, forgiveness and truth. Humility keep my pride and ego in check. Being connected to something greater than myself keeps me humble. Humility is a gift I hope to never take for granted again.