Claire F. / 224 Days
There has been a lot of talk regarding character flaws
in the meetings I attend. The topic seems to be following me as I make my rounds, popping up here and there. The Spirit of the Universe is trying to get my attention, and I am listening.
Early in sobriety, character flaws were merely items on my personal development check list. I completed each to-do item as I became more sober. I prayed for my flaws to be removed, and I behaved as if they had been removed. Easy, right?
Back then, the only character flaws that I could correctly identify were simple bad habits. As a twenty-three year old child with no life skills, bad habit reduction was a good place to start. I stopped being late all the time. I started being more honest. I started doing the dishes, mostly because I ran out of spoons. A friend of mine calls it, “sobriety by right living.” Right living did a good job of keeping me sober. Pretending to be an adult felt like a spiritual experience sufficient to recover from alcoholism—and for a time, it was.
In mid-sobriety, new flaws were revealed. They were not simple bad habits. As huge chunks of my character, the new flaws were parts of my core identity. Some the flaws were the traits I liked best about myself. The new flaws were strengths in one setting and weaknesses in another. I was totally baffled by which situations might warrant change and which of those did not. Woefully unprepared for this new knowledge, I was utterly unable to do anything about it.
Character flaws morphed from simple bad habits, into behaviors that seriously damaged my ability to seek the Spirit. They were obstructions to spiritual and personal progress. I couldn’t act my way out of them. Instead, I found myself acting out, through, and because of those difficult behaviors. My flaws kept me up at night in fits of shame and of pride. This was the beginning of a new spiritual experience and I was uncomfortable.
Recently, a quiet and persistent thought started to form in my consciousness. Character flaws may not be barriers to spiritual progress, as I once thought. In reality, flaws tend to tether me to the Spirit. When I am doing well, when I feel competent and in control, I neither need nor seek God. When I am struggling, when I feel baffled and lost, I reach out to God. Without discord in my life, establishing a personal relationship with the Spirit is not on my daily agenda.
The thought, quiet as it was, grew into a new belief about my God. The Spirit of the Universe has this odd need to be needed. My flaws are opportunities that force me into Its grace. I don’t have to change my flaws on my own. I don’t have to pray my flaws away. I don’t even have “turn them over.” Now, I see my flaws as personal invitations from the Spirit for connection. The Spirit wants to be needed. My willingness to let It be needed, opens the door of intimacy with God.
Over the past few days, I have been acting in accordance with the Spirit’s need to be needed. Each time I feel a flaw surfacing, I silently thank the Spirit for wanting to spend time with me. I experience gratitude, instead of panic. I feel comfort, instead of the need to plot and scheme my way out of the feelings.
Getting closer to the Spirit of the Universe, doesn’t magic my flaws away. I still struggle, but I am getting more intimate with the Spirit of the Universe. Flaw-by-flaw and feeling-by-feeling, I am moving the right direction. A spiritual experience sufficient to recover from alcoholism is, at last, within my reach.
Claire F. has been “in or around” sobriety for nearly 11 years. Her current sobriety date is July 14, 2016. In 11 years, she has learned that the party truly starts when sobriety begins. Sobriety is a “bridge back to life,” and she works hard at bridging the gap between newly sober and functioning adult. As a former marketing director, political hack, and mental health volunteer, Claire can’t really decide what she wants to be when she grows up. She now splits her time between recovery from alcoholism, recovery from schizoaffective disorder, and all the other rich beautiful life stuff. For more information and vlogs about her recovery from her mental health woes, visit her YouTube channel, Mental Health Mondays.