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Character Traits

by | Nov 15, 2023 | ComLine, Voices of Recovery

I will give you a brief summary of what led me to ACA.  I was exposed to a lot of trauma and abuse most of my life.  I have had 9 qualifiers.  I was married to a problem drinker for 36 years.  He would binge drink to blackout.  He was a textbook adult child who said all the time I’m fine.  I have got it.  He was not fine and committed suicide.

Then I got involved with a guy who was an alcoholic and an adult child.  My relationships can be considered a parasitic relationship, like a tick on an untreated dog.  I joined Al-anon and ACA as well as attending therapy when my daughter was 3-years-old.  Somewhere on my healing journey I found my humor again.

Character is how I act when nobody is watching.  Character traits are like seeds and weeds which are always there waiting to sprout.  Traits are not stagnant, they fluctuate, and the ultimate goal is “progress not perfection”. I learned to “put down the microscope and pick up the mirror” knowing that “reality can be as painful to accept as it was to escape”.   “I find my mind is like a parachute.  It will not work unless I pull the ripcord and the parachute opens”.

It takes an open mind and an in-depth look at one’s character traits with full honesty.  I was my worst critic and could beat myself up looking at my least favorable traits.  I told myself, “Do not believe everything I think”.  I realize when examining my traits “some days I’m going to be the bug and some days I’m going to be the windshield”.  There are days “I can be doubtful I will achieve serenity”. Then I remember “one day at a time “, “the mighty oak was once a little nut that held its ground”.

Looking at “attitudes which result from dysfunction”.  It is said, “Attitudes are contagious and I question if my attitude is worth catching”.  The flip side is, “If someone’s attitude has triggered me, do I tell them I do not need their attitude because I have one of my own to contend with”?  Then I think, “They are all pushing my buttons.  Where is the mute button when I need it”.  Then I tell myself, “Stay out of your head there is no adult supervision up there”.  I tell myself, “If I can’t be a good example, be a horrible warning instead”.  Then humility hits and I realize “humility is the soil in which all virtues grow”.  

I find, every once in a while, “reality intrudes on my fantasies”.  For example, “I am drowning yet someone else’s life flashes before my eyes”. “I get nervous and I find my nervousness is God’s way of shaking the truth out of me”.  Then the reminder comes, “My sanity is inversely proportional to my expectations”. I am now thinking, “I can’t have expectations. I will people-please instead.”  I find out the “formula to failure is people-pleasing”.

My Voice in my head is now saying, “You just can’t win”. I realize, “If I am eating a shit sandwich, I must have ordered It”.  So, “I pray for God’s help to keep my words sweet and tender for tomorrow I may have to eat them”.  Then I tell myself, “A closed mouth gathers no foot”, and, “Be flexible so you do not get bent out of shape”.  

Of course, I always know the right thing to say after the right moment has passed.  When disagreeing with someone it “triggers my trait of self-righteousness and I see two points of view; one that is wrong and one that is mine”.  “I walk on eggshells with some. I guess that can be called fowl play”.  I’m blamed for everything so I get to the point where I think to myself, “If I take ME from BlaME all that’s left is bla, bla, bla”.  

I hear my sponsor’s voice in my head, “Silence can often be misinterpreted but never misquoted”. She used to tell me, “Anyone can get along with perfect people but it’s our task to get along with imperfect people”.

“I work hard at walking the talk, but there are those days I might not walk the talk, but thank God, I don’t walk like I think”. “I have two active brain cells, and today they are not talking to each other.”  My brain is screaming to me now, “Anger is one letter short of danger”. The more I try to contain myself I escape into character-trait HELL. “I become a scream in search of a mouth”.  

Now I’m calming myself and my brain is telling me, “You are responsible for the affect, not the outcome”.  My brain says, “Be a harmony freak instead of a control freak”. “If it weren’t for a small defect in my humility, I’d be perfect”.  Maybe that’s why, “I get the monkey off my back only for the circus to stay in town”.  I say,  “I got this. I am fine.”  

I hear someone say, “Get a sponsor.  You can’t improve if you only have yourself as a model”.  Of course, my brain is saying, “I don’t need a sponsor.  I am perfectly fine and I have it under control, working the program by myself”.  Emphasis is on control, of course. I am told, “A self-sponsored person is a good example of unskilled labor”.  So, I get a sponsor and she tells me, “Al-Anon and ACA are like a socket wrench that fits any nut”.  

And meetings are important because “seven days without a meeting makes one weak”.  “Find your faith and doubt will starve to death”.  “My main business should be to mind my own business”.  She goes on to tell me, “The first step will add years to my life and the other steps will add life to my years”.  “The steps become your daily bread, not your cake to eat on a special occasion”.  “The steps will keep me from suicide the traditions from homicide”.

Lori N

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