Celebrating Success

Here’s a little tale for you…

Logging on to the computer today I glance at Facebook.  Several friends in a local on-line recovery group that I know saying things like “18months sober today.  woohoo!”,  “One whole year sober today. Thanks my terrific AA tribe”, “Nine years sober today I feel so  blessed and grateful? Thank you for keeping me sober a day at a time”.    I know each of these people personally and have seen them grow in the rooms of AA.  I pop in a little comment of my own along the lines of “Congratulations!”  “Well done!” “Great Achievement” … etc.    I have a sense of uplifting pride and happiness when I read these status’s.

Now… put the boot on the other foot.  Say somewhere I comment on something or someone asks how long I’ve been sober.  I believe in being honest as that is part of the programme and telling people I’ve strung together a bunch of days, months, years, decades is I hope inspiring for them that it can continue to work.  I’m about a month off my 4,000th day sober as I type this and less than two months from my 11th AA birthday (sober anniversary).    Then people say “That is awesome!”, “What a great achievement”… etc.  I then feel like a fraud and that my achievement is too small a thing not to be praised or acknowledged.

Daft isn’t it that on the one hand I’m happy, keen and wanting to praise others on their achievements thinking it a great testament to their desire to grow their recovery and to the programme they follow – AA or not.  On the other my own achievement is a fraud, another thing in life where I’ve “got away with it”, “bluffed my way through”, etc.  That is how I feel that my achievement isn’t as worthy as others as I clearly (in my mind) can’t have put in anywhere near the effort they have.  I don’t just think like this about sobriety but in other aspects of my life too.  I was talking about holidays with a colleague recently and mentioned that Mrs F and I are off for a long weekend over our wedding anniversary in the summer.  “How many years?” they asked “30” I replied.  “Crikey, that is some achievement.  Well done.”  Again instantly my thought was “they are easily impressed”…   but that was all about playing down my achievement rather than questioning their judgement.

I often hear people in AA talk about a feeling of inferiority, about feeling less-than the rest of the world, that they continually “pull the wool over people’s eyes”.   etc.  Maybe this trait is not limited to those in recovery but it is something I identify with enormously and one I know has a large dose of hypocrisy connected to it.  If I feel anyone’s sobriety is worthy of celebration and applause why then not my own?

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About furtheron

Music and guitar obsessive who is a recovering alcoholic to boot
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11 Responses to Celebrating Success

  1. ainsobriety says:

    I struggled with this at my one year anniversary. I was so happy and proud of my sober friends, but not for me… Why?

    I still felt shame. Shame that I had fallen into addiction. That I wasn’t stronger. That I had let things get out of hand.
    The truth is, I put expectations on myself that were not rational or achievable. I am not perfect. I don’t expect anyone else to be perfect. We are all human.

    I continue to work on self acceptable. I feel pretty comfortable with my life, my choices. I know addiction is not a weakness. I am living a life of joy and happiness. When I remind myself of that it is easier to find self forgiveness and celebrate my achievements.

    Anne

  2. Suburbia says:

    Funnily enough – after your comment on mine – I totally identify with this post. I feel I’ve never done enough to be worthy of praise – it’s difficult to accept but easy to give. Today on my course I spoke about wishing I could be kinder to my self and cut myself some slack – I can’t identify why it’s so hard when I want it so much but I have a feeling it’s all tied up with the same thing.

    Thanks for a thought provoking post

  3. Lily says:

    I think that most most of us have spent so may years criticizing ourselves and beating ourselves up, that it’s sometimes hard to, not only stop that way of thinking, but to see that our achievements are just as valid as everyone else’s. I can see the good that others have done, but deep down, I’m still that person berating herself for having messed up in the first place. Therefore, it’s always difficult for me to accept praise.

  4. Wow, almost 4000 days is a huge accomplishment! You really should be proud of yourself. Please don’t sell yourself short!

    I do understand that thought process, though. I have always been plagued by the idea that I am really not as [insert word here – smart, accomplished, together, whatever] as I appear to be on the outside. One of my college friends and I used to talk about that when we graduated and went out into the world with our new degrees and careers. We would say, “I feel like such a fraud, I’m really not as smart as they think I am, what if they find out? What if I am exposed? What if I get fired? I guess I’ll just have to work extra hard to make sure I live up to everyone’s expectations!”

    I wonder if that is a common thread for those of us with alcohol problems? Maybe carrying around that secret erodes our self confidence and self worth. I know I feel so much better now that I am not drinking. I finally feel like my inside is starting to line up with my outside. I am not carrying around that daily shame, the secret self loathing of the constant hangover.

    Congratulations to you on so many days, weeks and years strung together. It has to feel better than the alternative!

  5. rhodysober says:

    I am sorry to hear that you struggle with this. I see your sobriety as a REMARKABLE achievement! I hope you can begin to see it that way, too. You can’t bluff your way through through recovery and it seems to me that you have not only remained sober but have fully embraced your life. Please be kinder to yourself about this. You deserve as much praise as anyone else for this and I, for one, am quite inspired by you.

  6. What a bunch of rubbish you talk. As though your accomplishments weren’t really accomplishments at all and don’t deserve any respect. If you were here I’d stomp on your toe. Knock it off. With friends like you mucking around inside your head, who needs enemies?

    OH, and by the way. You’re a bloody good guitarist, too. I suppose that doesn’t count as praiseworthy either, does it? I mean…why should it? You hardly worked at all to get there.

    Good that you posted about this. The first step is admitting there’s a problem (I hear). Rise up.

  7. untipsyteacher says:

    11 YEARS?
    WOW!! That is awesome!!!
    Married for 30 years?
    More awesomeness!
    Hugs,
    Wendy
    (I am very happy I am 195 days sober, and married for 38 years!)

  8. Sherry says:

    Of course why not yours?! In my book, you’re a superstar! You deserve all the applause and accolades that are tossed your way.

    And don’t you ever forget it.

    Sherry

  9. I totally get this.

    Also, 4,000 days! That sounds like quite something! Keep it up 😉

  10. liz says:

    First of all, well done! You’re an inspiration.

    Secondly, I understand completely. I have no problem believing God looks kindly onto the old foul-mouthed drunk, forgiving and loving him; but how can He love me when I’m so rotten?

  11. daisyfae says:

    i understand this – the ‘Impostor Syndrome’ in another guise perhaps? i find tremendous joy in unleashing honest, earned praise on others who have achieved such milestones. Although not a recovered alcoholic, i also have a very difficult time accepting praise from others – to the point that i refused to be nominated for awards several times in my career because i couldn’t let myself believe i deserved it… Congratulations – on being a good friend and enthusiastic supporter of those around you!

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