I Knew It All, Yet I Knew Nothing – Humility

An important part of sobriety is the practice of humility. The other day this came to my mind (and I’m no poet):

My ego and pride kept me in the skies
Blind to the world around me
Humility brought me back down to earth
With my feet firmly planted on the ground
Where I’m no different than anyone else.

I can’t tell you how many times in my lifetime I have said, “I know…I know…I know.” My egocentric pride wanted everyone to know how smart I was compared to them. In the end, I was just lying to myself and others – really badly. I didn’t know anything at all, especially living life.

I did know one thing – who, where, when and how to get my next drink. I would be thinking about it no matter where I was or what I was doing. All day at work, while drinking my next beer, driving somewhere, talking to someone on the phone – I was always preoccupied with the thought of drinking.

Things changed after my experiences in Alcoholics Anonymous. One of my first meetings a gentleman got up and said, “Hey all you new people. Stop whining. Get the cotton out of your ears and put it in your mouth. You don’t know nothing.” That man saved my life!

My first act of humility was accepting I was an alcoholic and couldn’t drink again – ever. While the first Step says, “…admitted…”, I have come to learn admitting something is something anyone can do while most of us lie to ourselves while we do it. Technically “accept” means to “receive a thing offered”. In this case, I was being offered my life, though I didn’t know it. But just putting down the drink wasn’t enough.

“You never have to drink again” or “I haven’t had the desire to drink in a very long time” were things I heard from people who had long term sobriety. How? That’s just impossible from where I was standing at the time. Eventually I came to a conclusion – I wanted sobriety, no question about it. I was in such a desperate, hopeless, insane state of mind I knew there only other choice was death. I wanted to live.

Another humbling experience was accepting I was not alone in my problem with alcoholism. Again, I knew everything so I didn’t need anyone else. Fail. There were talking about a “Higher Power” or “God”. Oh hell no, not for me. People were willing to help me despite they didn’t know one thing about me – are you kidding? It took a long while to come to terms people genuinely wanted to help me because I had lost trust in anyone a long time ago. Once I honestly put all those thoughts aside and starting asking for help, my whole world changed.

This list can go on and on . . . Today I still practice humility.

I have a new job. New people, new boss, new responsibilities. I don’t have all the answers. When I don’t, I ask someone. Even if I feel like I’m pestering them. Yes, I get sideways looks over stupid questions but I don’t care. I rather ask, otherwise pride and ego get inflated and we start to have problems.

Practicing humility was NOT something I wanted to do – it just came gradually over time. I had a whole set of belief and practices branded in my mind most of my life. I had no intention of parting with them at first. But I had to do something different without question. So I did what I was told, asked questions and tried things other people before me did.

The hardest part of my sobriety is dismissing those old thoughts and behaviors. How do I change something I’ve done over my lifetime. The answer – slowly, each and every day. The point is, one can’t just stand around. You have to do some work. Practicing humility by saying to one’s Self, “I don’t know” and asking for help was a good start for me. Why don’t you try it?

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