Sometimes I wonder if the most bitter pill in life to swallow is a deep disappointment. It’s like that moment when you realize your dad isn’t a superhero. Or when someone you thought was a genius makes a truly moronic comment. It seems so strange; we walk through molestation, poverty, death, and more. Yet there’s nothing quite like that feeling when you realize someone or something isn’t perfect--and that someone can be ourselves.When that moment happens, there’s an innocence that dies. A hope gets dashed. Where we once held a belief in something as ironclad, we now see it in a colder, more realistic light. Our disenchantment can be mild, or it can be bitter as bile.A lot of addicts I know (myself included) hold ourselves to impossible standards. We expect ourselves to be perfect. We expect others to be perfect, too. We expect situations, even life itself, to be perfect. And when it isn’t, oh are we ever bitter about it. In the rooms of Recovery, we say this: expectations are pre-meditated resentments.I was thinking today about a situation I was involved in. A member at my home group was having some behavior problems (not unfamiliar for 12-step rooms). This member regularly talked far longer than the allotted time and had a very bad habit of interrupting other members during their shares. The member was talked to outside of meetings, asked multiple times to shape up and show respect to others in the meeting. The behavior didn’t improve, and the member ended up leaving the group after being told that their bullshit would no longer be tolerated.Now, certainly anyone who’s been in 12-step rooms for any length of time knows that we can’t expect them to be perfect sanctuaries of peace and tranquility; they aren’t. They won’t ever be. Learning that they aren’t, seeing our fellows, our sponsor ‘fall from grace’ is difficult to walk through and a rough patch on the path to long-term Recovery.But I wonder, too, about that member who walked out. They weren’t told to leave, but I wonder if there wasn’t an expectation there that the room was supposed to be perfect for them, the perfect place where they could say whatever they wanted and just talk and talk and talk. The fact that it was an unreasonable expectation doesn’t really matter. I imagine the bitterness that member felt had a very bad taste. Having reality intrude, get in our face, it seems to do it in the rudest way sometimes. I try to remember that I’m not perfect. One of the best gifts Recovery has given me is the knowledge that not only do I not have to be perfect, but that I couldn’t be if I tried. Perfection isn’t possible. We are human. We are flawed. We make mistakes. It happens. In my better moments, I even find a way to laugh at myself and take joy in merely being human. In my worse moments, I am my own worst critic.There is no such thing as perfect. Beating up on ourselves for not being perfect is a waste of time. Or worse, a form of denial because if we’re blaming ourselves for not being perfect, then we’ve forgotten a basic truth of our existence--that we are human. The same could be said of blaming life, situations, or circumstances for not being perfect. They aren’t; they won’t ever be. And that’s okay!And of course, if it’s unjust to blame ourselves for not being perfect, it is truly unjust for us to blame others for not being perfect themselves.
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