Hey Ebenezer … I Needed the Message Too!
When asked about the point at which I knew I needed help for an overuse of alcohol and understated use of food, my answer has always been a blood chilling account of harsh reality.
The candid detail serves a purpose no matter who poses the question. For those who don’t have first-hand experience with addiction, there seems some voyeuristic satisfaction from the shock factor. For those who do struggle with an obsessive, compulsive way of life, there are two camps; those silently searching for any justification they’re “not that bad” and those who find comfort in knowing they aren’t alone.
Yet after recently hearing a rather simple explanation for what hitting a proverbial “bottom” means, I may rethink how I respond when I’m asked about mine.
What I heard was, reaching bottom is the moment when one becomes humble enough to seek change.
Just like that I heard the clicking sound of pieces connecting. Humility, getting honest, surrendering to the truth … yes, folks, that was the bottom I had to reach.
The account of my turning point has always been centered around how bad things were, not about the exhale, the acceptance and a need for something different. Even though I still very much wanted to have a drink every so often or maintain control over my body weight, shape and size, I never realized how desperately I desired change.
For years I masked, manipulated, and deceived myself and people around me to believe the life I’d crafted suited me just fine. I never considered the fact I didn’t look fine or behave fine or think fine or react fine. I had no conception of humility or what life might be like without a shield made of self-centeredness.
This new insight about hitting bottom was fresh in my mind as I watched of my beloved holiday movie; “A Christmas Carol” published this month by Charles Dickens 170 years ago.
Each December I’ve taken in countless versions of this classic story. I cherish the black and whites of 1935 with Seymour Hicks, 1938 with Reginald Owen and 1951 with Alastair Sim.
I’ve enjoyed a few musical renditions and even my beloved story set in animation. Regardless of the stars or the background symphony of music, I never tire of the way I feel when Ebenezer experiences his remarkable awakening and how those who truly care about him respond at the end.
This year I found myself with pen in hand, reflecting with great intention to the words Charles Dickens felt compelled to share with his own. He and seemingly a great many others at the time, were aware of the dangers associated with misplaced ego and pride, the seven deadly sins, and the sharp-pointed, rough edges associated with isolation.
As Ebenezer’s friend and business partner found his way to bear witness to the catastrophic consequences of a life gone without internal inspection, I thought of how many have done the same for me.
Each time I hear someone share an experience with relapse, what happens when actions go unattended and right living becomes less important, I’m reminded of what I need to do today to assure I don’t find myself sharing a similar tale.
The ghosts of Christmas past, present and future who visited Ebenezer perhaps only existed in his mind. Those who have offered me similar insight arrived very much in human form.
I definitely could not have become humble enough to look at my life backwards with unedited eyes. I needed help from others to see more deeply into the hearts and minds of those I had hurt, avoided or dismissed. Although I didn’t want to acknowledge what I saw, I had no other choice than to accept how my actions and words pained many and how ultimately I paid the highest price; living in emotional isolation and unending fear.
Just like Ebenezer finally found his way with just a morsel of humility, I too was given the chance to course correct my ways and avoid what could have been my future.
When the final scene fades to black for old Mr. Scrooge, I’m left to believe he goes on to live a long prosperous life not of money but of good will. On the other hand, I am only guaranteed today.
However if I continue to do what I hadn’t done before which is to remain humble in action and word, I may just get to experience tomorrow the same as I have today.
A Moment to Breathe …
Sit quietly and think about what you may have missed yesterday, last December or many years ago. Are you able to see the past with unedited eyes? Take some time to share those memories with those who were there. Ask what they remember from that same experience. Bet you’ll be surprised by the alternative perspectives. If you feel compelled, I’d love to have you post about what that was like. You can do so below or as a comment when sharing this blog on one of your favorite social media sites.