Becoming The Man I Want To Be: A Lifestyle Choices Series
Are you the person you want to be? How’s that for an opening question? Seriously, have you reached that point in life where you can say with no hesitation at all that you are content with the person in the mirror? Okay, I’ll start off this game: I am not yet satisfied with who I am but I am getting closer each and every day.
Do you remember who you wanted to be when you were a child? I’m not asking what you wanted to be, as in a teacher of fireman, but rather what kind of person you wanted to be? I remember a conversation with my mother when I was about ten or so; we had been out shopping and some customer near us said a cuss word and as she and I were driving home the topic of cussing was discussed. I made it very clear that I would never cuss because it showed low character to do so and my mother was quite pleased by my declaration.
Boy, did I ever mess up on that promise!
I’m not sure when we are children that we even have that conversation with ourselves. I’m pretty certain that I never had an in-depth soul-searching session detailing the type of human being I planned on being. I don’t know when I began to question my own personal ethics and morality. Maybe there were fleeting moments when I was in my late teens and early twenties when I would briefly think “I’m a pretty good person,” but I can promise that by the time I was forty I was convinced that I was a piece of human excrement and would never be a good person.
There finally came a time, however, when this question had great importance to me and I can narrow that time down to a year: 1992. My son had just come to live with me and I had just completed in-patient treatment for alcoholism; it was time for me to take a long look at myself and I decided my son was not going to live with a sick, twisted alcoholic.
So I began my journey towards sobriety and my efforts began to be the best father I could be. Please note that my intentions were to be the best father and not person. I did not see the distinction between the two at that point of my journey.
I set about being the father my son deserved. I was supportive of his efforts, good to his friends and tried to teach valuable lessons to him about right and wrong and making your own way in life. I concentrated on my sobriety, worked hard at a teaching job I loved and made a life for him and me. Still there was something missing and although I could not put a name to it I knew that I was not whole, that a key ingredient to happiness had escaped me despite my efforts.
Married in 2000, a disaster from the beginning and when divorce was imminent I began drinking again in November, 2002. I lost my job, worked odd jobs for a time, started a business and lost my mother and for the next four years I would relapse for a week or so then quit for six months, over and over, struggling with the demons that I could not seem to conquer. It was tiring and demoralizing because I knew what I had to do to open the door of freedom and yet could not slip the key in the keyhole.
During this time my son was still with me on and off; by then he had graduated from high school and was starting a life on his own. We stayed in close contact for we both loved each other, but it was time for him to be out in the world and it was time for me to finally answer that question….what kind of man did I want to be?
2006 THE BEGINNING OF A NEW LIFE
By 2006 I had attained a little over a year of sobriety and was feeling confident enough to take a teaching job in a remote village in Alaska. It was, to say the least, a disaster and yet it turned out to be the most important step in my journey. I relapsed badly, almost died and finally came back home with the resolve and willingness I needed to finally sort it all out.
Back into treatment for a month, out of treatment once again but something was different and I knew it immediately. There was a calmness and peace within me that was palpable and it was every bit as intoxicating as liquor had once been. I knew what I had to do and it was so clear to me. I realized coming out of treatment what kind of man I wanted to be!
The funny thing is that the blueprint for this new character had always been right in front of me and I didn’t see it. I had always wanted to be a combination of my father and my mother and it was those very traits that I had instilled in my son.
A ROAD SUDDENLY PAVED AND ILLUMINATED
I vowed to become a compassionate human being, not in just words but in action.
I vowed to be an empathetic human being, not in just words but in action.
I vowed to be a loving human being, not in just words but in action.
I learned from some good men that I needed to do away with my ego and concentrate on humility. No longer could I view myself as the key player in this thing called life. The world had functioned quite nicely before I was born and it would carry on quite nicely once I was gone. The selfishness that had manifested itself in alcoholism (and there is not a more selfish disease in this world) needed to be discarded and replaced with a new feeling of cooperation with others.
I could no longer look at a situation and scheme what I was going to get out of it; instead I had to look at what was important for the common good and how could I be a facilitator in that process. I could no longer judge the merits of another person by what they could do for me; instead I had to ask what I could do for them. In short I had to become a team player in life rather than the one on the sidelines screaming to get into the game but not knowing how to do so.
A WORK IN PROGRESS
So yes, I am a work in progress. For the past five-and-a-half years I have been moving steadily in the right direction. I am proud of who I am today and yet the pride is not self-defeating but rather a pat on the back for a job well done to this point. Today, rather than wishing I could be compassionate I am in fact compassionate. Today, rather than acting like I have empathy I truly do feel empathy for others. Today, rather than attempting to love, without a clue how to do so, I can love myself and others with equal measure.
Will I ever reach the end of this self-journey? I hope not! The day I feel I am all that I can be is the day I am ready to take the deep fall again. The biggest difference today is that I am smiling each step of the way and I absolutely love life.
And so I ask you again: are you the person you want to be?
2012 Bill Holland (aka billybuc)
To order my Lifestyle Choices on Kindle go to:
- Childhood Dreams: Do You Remember?
Do we live lives of quiet desperation today? Would Thoreau look at today's society and say that we do indeed?
- Lifestyle Choices: What Will Your Legacy Be?
The choice is ours what kind of legacy we will leave after our deaths.
- 9 Characteristics of a Real Man
Perception is a crazy thing and it applies to every area of life we know, including our idea of a real man. Everyone has an opinion of what a real man is or should look like. Here are a few thoughts on the subject. "Just sayin!"