Alcoholics always seem to know exactly how much time has passed since their last drink. If the number is large they are proud and are congratulated and received medals. If the number is small they are struggling. If the number is zero they are ashamed. How sad that a number defines who they are.
Am I defined by numbers such as the number in my bank account, or number of days I have been on this earth, or number of hot fudge sundaes I have had, or my golf score? I don’t think so even though, they are all factors.
Am I defined by my race and gender? Certainly they are factors in who I am but I prefer to define myself by my values and accomplishments on the positive side. And by hurts that I have caused or bad decisions I have made on the negative side.
I would venture that Denzel Washington wants to be defined by his acting abilities, his generosity and other parts of his life that I have no knowledge of – vs that he is an African American actor and donor. When we are able to see people as who (not what) they are, that is real insight. When I forget that a friend is a different race; that is true friendship.
I have a good friend who is from Great Britain and has a definite accent. Last year we met some people new to both of us and one of them made a comment that she must be from somewhere east of here. I didn’t know what they were talking about until she reminded me of her accent. I no longer heard the accent, just as people who live near railroad tracks no longer hear the trains. I have lost track of when I had my last cigarette – I don’t even know how many years – I do remember WHY and HOW I stopped. I like that I don’t know the WHEN.
This is how I feel about alcoholics. Yes, the amount of time of sobriety is important – but to me, it is not WHO they are. They are defined by how they feel, what they do, and how they treat others. When those in recovery lose sight of how long it has been since the last drink, THEN they are truly in recovery. It no longer defines who they are and they have moved past that phase of their lives.
Numbers, counting the days, are really just for the individual, not for others. Numbers are helpful signposts, marking the way forward, one day at a time, providing inner strength…