“I don’t know why you care so much. Just let me get drunk and high and forget about me. I...
Wise Guy in Cocoa Beach FL
“If you haven’t gone through it, you can’t help me. How can you possibly understand?”
My personal experiences have granted me entry and immediate acceptability as someone who can help others. However, most of the mentors who have been vital to my growth didn’t come from or do any of the things I did before I made the decision to change. So I want to dig into the question above made by a wise guy in Cocoa Beach FL and challenge its validity and function.
First of all, if you are struggling with something difficult to comprehend it is very comforting to learn that others have recovered or are recovering from the same. It can be a substance use problem, loss, divorce, bankruptcy, disability, anxiety, mental illness, trauma, or anything else equally as disruptive to ones life. So finding those individuals are important. It proves that you are not alone in the way you think, act, feel, or cope. It also proves that overcoming is possible.
That’s only the beginning.
Since we don’t desire to stay in the same emotional state or patterns of behavior, it’s important to gather positive images of what we can become. Those individuals don’t have to have our same history, but they do have to present something we want. For instance, if you want to get off of drugs a sponsor within the Narcotics Anonymous program is a great mentor for that. That same sponsor however, should not be your marital counselor, financial advisor, or medication management professional. Even if they are such in their life outside of the rooms. This will only set your sponsor up to fail you and when and if he/she does, this can be very harmful to your recovery and trust in the 12-step programs. So seek multiple mentors each specifically for a certain purpose. This allows each mentor to be flawed in other areas without complicating their role as your mentor in that specific area. After all, we aren’t perfect, as much as we work to be, so why should they be. Also, people are often frozen in choosing a mentor or sponsor because of other flaws not relevant to their purpose. Thaw out, get focused on your specific needs and then choose those that meet them.
Finally, we don’t know what we don’t know. Re-read that if you didn’t get it the first time. We may not know what calm, true self confidence, or happiness feels like. While we are judging someone for not understanding our pain and discomfort, we aren’t remembering that it is us that do not understand their healthy position. This is important to note, because while we keep searching for others in pain we are ignoring those that can mentor us to peace. Plus, some of them might have already lived through their pain. Just because you are meeting them now the way they are today doesn’t mean they can’t relate. However, they don’t have to. You are the one suffering and wanting out of what you are feeling. So find those that have what you want, study them, consult with them, and learn how they acheived or maintain it.
Intelligence is knowledge learned but wisdom can be gained by the experiences of others. Our most life saving lessons are those achieved by watching others. Thanks to those that tested fate differently, we live to choose otherwise.
So the answer to the initial question is: “I don’t need to live your story to understand your pain as much as I need to know how to help you be successful in what I am successful in today. If that is… what you really want. You already know the alternative. Are you ready?”