Lately I’ve been going to multiple alcoholic anonymous meetings in support of a family member. In just a few short weeks I’ve learned about a whole different world that a great number of people live in. Before I started attending these meetings I did not know much about alcoholism besides the fact it was described as a disease. The only material that I had come across that gave me a sense of just how severe of a problem alcoholism is was a section in my human resources textbook that discussed handling problems with an alcoholic employee. I thought to myself, “If this is so prevalent that my textbook has a section in it, then I am vastly undereducated about the severity of alcoholism in our society.” What I did understand was that alcoholism is labeled as a disease, and that there is a genetic risk to being predisposed to an addiction of alcohol. I’m twenty-six years old and have done my fair share of social drinking. Even with family members who are alcoholics drinking socially is as far as it’s ever gone for me. I’ve never felt the urge to turn to alcohol as a solution to my problems. I wouldn’t say I have an addictive personality, but I have battled my own addictions. The fact that alcoholism takes such a firm grasp on those addicted and requires true dedication to kick the habit is why I know it is labeled as a disease.
I’ve heard a variety of stories and emotions discussed in the AA meetings I have attended. Some funny, some somber, some that make my heart ache for that person, and almost everything else in between. Recently one of the topics of discussion was about ego, and how learning to handle your ego to be able to begin conquering alcoholism. I feel as this is true for any kind of addiction. The biggest enabler for my drug addiction was me. I would tell myself it didn’t matter that I was pushing people away because I was doing what I needed to do to feel better and deal with my problems. My head was so engulfed with this mentality that it never even occurred to me to ask for help from others. My ego also fed the lie that I alone could overcome any and all obstacles in life all by myself. An ego is a tricky thing to handle mostly because it’s your own conscious taking part in your everyday decision making, and even if you don’t trust anyone else in life it’s hard not to trust yourself.
The title of this post comes from a gentleman in that AA meeting about ego. When it was his turn to speak all he had to say was simply, “Your ego is not your amigo.” It resonated with me stronger than any other story or statement I heard at that meeting. When he said it, I thought about it and I realized that a person can’t simply live without an ego, but at the same time an overinflated ego can be just as harmful as having no ego at all. Egos are useful and are necessary for everyone, but to have a healthy ego it must be balanced. Attaining that balance can be very hard for addicts. Giving up someone’s drug of choice is almost impossible if their ego tells them they shouldn’t have to, and it can be just as difficult if that person doesn’t have enough of a sense of self-worth to want to get clean and sober for themselves.
Over the last ten months I’ve finally been able to balance my ego. I’ve learned to let others in to my life and my problems, I’ve learned to stay humble, and most importantly I’ve found a way to accept the reality of my life. With this balance I’ve been able to conquer an addiction, finish college, and just recently was hired for a job that I’m sincerely interested in and plan to make into a career. This was all made possible accepting my true self and balancing my ego to transform myself into the person I’ve deep down always really wanted to be.