“Don’t compromise yourself. You are all you’ve got.” – Janis Joplin, American singer, songwriter, painter, dancer, and music arranger, died from an overdose of heroin, possibly combined with the effects of alcohol (1943-1970) It is almost impossible to be able to really see ourselves in an honest light if we are unable or unwilling to remove our blinders. In reality, many of us in recovery are only just beginning to understand our weaknesses, let alone recognize our strengths. We have, in fact, a long road ahead of us and much learning to embark upon. Key to our being able to make substantial progress toward any and all of our recovery goals is this intrinsic desire to better know ourselves. And, truth be told, we have to be willing to do whatever it takes to get to the bottom of understanding who we are, even though it may be painful to discover and we’d like the truth to be other than what it is. We’re all familiar with compromises. The world seems to demand compromises in so many areas that we may be tempted to believe that we can get away with compromising on who we are. That is a shortsighted view and one that will likely land us in trouble. For one thing, we should have a high level of integrity. While this may seem alien to us at this point, given that we may be fresh out of rehab and are just starting on our recovery journey, but integrity of self is one of the critical components of knowing who we are and not compromising that. But finding our integrity or, more to the point, developing our sense of integrity, will take some work. As with anything else that we deem worthwhile in recovery, it may not be an easy process. We do need to believe in something, ardently and with our whole heart. This bedrock or foundation will serve us well as we shore up or add to our integrity. In a way, we can look at integrity as our sense of value and morality, of our world-view and how we treat others. Do we behave toward others in a kindly and supportive manner, treating them as we ourselves wish to be treated? If we do, that’s integrity. Do our words match our thoughts and deeds at all times? If so, that’s integrity. Do we always try to think of the consequences of our actions before we engage in them and modify any that will have a negative effect on others? If so, that’s integrity. What else is required for an uncompromising self? We also need to have ideals. These are often closely aligned with our integrity, as in we believe so strongly about a universal truth that all our thoughts, words and actions perfectly dovetail with that. Man should be above base emotions and petty behavior. All men are created equal, but if we truly believe this, then our actions need to be a reflection of that so that there is no disconnect between what we say we believe and how we actually behave. In our new life of sobriety, it may seem like every day is a new day. That’s because it is, or, at least, it should seem so. We have cast off the shackles of the addiction that held us chained for so long, blind to how our actions hurt others, clouded by our dependence on substance and unable to see life as it is. Now that we are in recovery, we have endless chances to discover who we are and to remake ourselves into the kind of person that we want to be.
It won’t necessarily be easy, but it is necessary if we are to be true to our self.
Of course, we won’t be in recovery alone. There are numerous other individuals that we should count as part of our support network. If we don’t believe we have any such individuals, due to lack of family or anyone we consider close, we still can avail ourselves of the support that’s always available to us in the 12-step rooms of recovery. Naturally, this takes some getting used to. If we’ve never before participated in self-help groups, we may feel like this is something that’s beneath us or not worth our time and energy. That would be a costly mistake. We need to be in the company of others who have been down this road already, those who have gone through rehab like we have and are now in effective recovery. We can, in fact, learn a great deal from them, if only by example. But what we will also find out rather quickly is that they have a lot to tell us about their own recovery experiences, much of which may be applicable to our own recovery journey. It’s at least a place to start. And when we’re fresh into recovery, we need all the help we can get. Sometimes, however, despite our best intentions and actions, things just don’t go as we had planned. Of course, life is always full of surprises. We need to become more resilient and able to bend with the strong winds, to not become blown over by any sudden changes that we find ourselves unprepared for. Having a multitude of contingency plans and alternative strategies to put to use is a good idea. This helps not only encourage us because we have something to fall back on but also it bolsters our determination to keep going when things get tough.
And they will get tough, if not now, at some later time.
It is during times of crisis and stress that we tend to compromise our self. We know that we shouldn’t, but we feel like we must. Galvanize our integrity. Bolster our sense of self-esteem by acknowledging our strengths and giving ourselves credit for the accomplishments we have achieved. This will help us forego the tendency to give up on our beliefs and ideals, to shove aside our goals and dismiss our dreams. We need to hold onto our beliefs and ideals, strive to achieve our goals and always, always believe in our dreams. These are what get us through, what sustain and motivate us, and what help make our lives much more enjoyable, productive and filled with peace and joy and love. The next time we’re tempted to compromise any part of our self, think long and hard before doing so. Is the immediate reward worth such a compromise? Will we not be better off holding on to our integrity and doing whatever it takes to remain true to ourselves? We think the answer should be that we will never compromise ourselves if we know who we are and remain true to ourselves.