I’ve mentioned before that I am and have been a very competitive person. If there is a sport or game that I take seriously at all then I compete fiercely to win. This has applied to anything from board games all the way to organized sports. Losing has always been tough to handle for me. Again, I don’t claim to be on the level of Michael Jordan or some other extreme case of competitiveness. I know there are millions of people all over the world who hate to lose. My competitive nature – though very strong (and intimidating to some) is not totally unique. However, I have thought on many occasions that there was a very good chance that I was the most competitive person in the room. And there really was no close second!
If you have ever played (or coached) a competitive sport you will be able to identify with this scenario. Its the 4th quarter. Your team is losing and you have just called your last timeout. A comeback does not look likely at all. Players look dejected, disappointed, ashamed. The coach is still barking out instructions but maybe even he (or she) has lost a little of the fire in their tone from earlier in the game. The realization of losing the game already begins to set in before the game is actually over.
There is always that teammate that absolutely REFUSES to admit defeat and fights to the bitter end. They are still yelling at teammates during the late 4th quarter huddle when the score all but reveals the inevitable outcome.
“This game is not over!” “Come on guys, we can win this!”
That was me. I would delay admitting defeat as long as possible. Admitting defeat was a personal knock on my identity. I felt that by losing a big game I was a loser at life. The bad part was that hardly anyone could convince me otherwise.
Some of you probably hated that player. You might have respected it in a way but deep down you were thinking, “Dude come on we are going to lose, get a grip!”
I am not here to tell you that I am no longer a competitive person. I think my competitive drive, when harnessed in a positive way is actually one of my best personality traits. It gives me passion, drives me to be successful and fuels my grit and determination. I am here to report that something is changing in me with this whole competitive nature thing. I feel like instead of devoting energy to competition with others, I need to compete with myself. Instead of having to one-up someone else, I need to one-up my recovery efforts. What was good enough last week cannot be good enough this week. I must build, improve and never get complacent.
I have recently started a “Step Study” with about 7 or 8 other recovering addicts. And when I say recently I mean that we have met twice! Over the next several months we will dissect all 12 steps and apply them all to our lives. We are as they often say in recovery programs “working the steps.”
Step 1 is all about addressing denial and powerlessness. It makes sense how clueless I was for so long regarding denial because….well I was in denial. Now its like when I got prescription glasses for the first time. I remember the drive home vividly. I was a freshman in college and I’m pretty sure I waited about 2 or 3 years later than probably I needed so when I could see clearly that first day – wow! I remember commenting on the fact I could actually see the details of the high tree leaves. Beauty made sense again, I could see as I was supposed to see.
Life is starting to make sense as I am coming out of denial. Its hard letting go of denial. It was like a close friend all those years. We went through a lot together. Made a pact long ago and kept secrets from everyone. We were a team and denial never broke my trust. But now I must leave that friendship behind because it was unhealthy and destructive. He was not a friend after all.
When a player is fighting to the end when their team is losing big its either one of two things. They are either just playing hard because they take pride in playing hard no matter what – or they are in denial. Its easier just to not admit defeat and keep playing as if there is hope of winning.
I am learning (and will continue to learn I’m sure) that there is no hope of beating this addiction. Not on my own. So when I was trying to stop on my own it truly was a hopeless venture. Since I kept losing battles I felt more and more like a failure. Since I felt like a failure, I isolated myself and lived in constant denial. The cycle was vicious and never ending and had me completely whipped.
It is such a relief to be able to admit that I am an addict. I have lost the ability to choose. I have been fighting a losing battle – because I have been fighting it alone and without the tools for success.
I also feel secure in the fact that as long as I am leaning on God that I will NEVER lose. Sure I may fall. Sure I will have bad days. Pain and disappointment will come but as long as I can say from my heart of hearts, “Thy will be done” then I will always be on the road to recovery. “Thy will be done” is admitting to God that I have lost. I am beaten. I’ve tapped out and I need God to come in and win the match for me. Saying those words everyday is surrendering to the first step.
I know its the first of many steps and the road is long. I also know that God is with me each step of the way.