EGO is a Four Letter Word
You hear lots of reasons why people relapse in recovery. Which one is the worst offender? Sometimes you hear it’s resentments or dishonesty. Other times it’s a relationship or not going to meetings. Sometimes you can get a little closer to the truth when you hear it’s selfishness. I’ve heard them all and I’ve used them all too. So which one is the worst? None, because they all steam from one evil, ugly thing. The ego. That little three letter word causes so much destruction and we aren’t even aware it’s calling the shots. But how can all those reasons for relapse above be caused by the ego? Let’s look at some examples:
My Ego Tells Me I’m ALL THAT!
Resentments- Why do we get resentments. Lots of reasons but let’s focus on just 3:
- Judgement: I think I’m better than you (ego) or worse than you (ego in reverse).
- Hypocrisy: I hold you to a higher standard than I do myself. Ie: “You lied to ME!!!” Umm… You never lied to anyone? “You stole from ME!!” Umm… You’ve never stole from anyone? My ego tells me I’m ALL THAT!
- Fear: I’M not going to get something I want. I’M going to lose something I have. Umm.. Isn’t everything on earth God’s and He’s just letting you use it anyway? My ego tells me that I have to run the world (which is pretty scary). You can’t manage your own life and expect your Higher Power to do it too.
Dishonesty: Why Do People Lie?
Dishonesty comes in many forms. Each one of them can be stripped down until you see that ego is the root cause. There’s lying, cheating, stealing, omitting the truth, 1/2 truths, denial… Those are just the one’s that come to the top of my head. Why do people lie? The core reason- I want my needs met. ie: You call me up and ask me if I cut the grass. I say yes (even though I didn’t). Why did I lie? I don’t want to cut the grass. I want to watch TV, I don’t want you to preach at me, I want you to think I’m responsible (even though I’m not). Ok, that wasn’t a very imaginative example. Here’s another. I cheat on my husband. Why? I want to feel the excitement that my marriage maybe lacking and I’m not even thinking about how hurt my husband would be if he found out (Those examples also cross into selfishness too). My ego tells me I deserve to chill on the couch or need some excitement in my life. Forget those vows I made.
Bringing Sick Behaviors Into New Relationships
I haven’t worked the 12 steps yet but I don’t want to feel the discomfort of being newly sober so I need a distraction. Umm… What do I have to offer another human-being but my sickness until I’ve worked the steps? I will bring the same dysfunctional behaviors into the next relationship as I had in the last relationship. My ego tells I’m well even when I’m sick.
No More Meetings, Thank You
I’ve gotten what I needed out of recovery. Thank you very much buh-bye! That’s like me carrying two loaves of bread under my arms and I’m not going to give a morsel of it to a starving person?!? It’s my responsibility to carry a message of recovery to the newcomer but my ego tells me I deserve to relax. Haven’t I had a hard enough life? Haven’t I put in my time helping others? Let someone else do it. I’m going to live my own life now.
My Wants are More Important Then Your Needs
I want, I deserve, I’m entitled to… Me, Me, Meeee! My ego looooves when I focus on myself. The more selfish I am, the more the ego gets fed. The more the ego gets fed, the more selfish I am.
I’ve heard that the ISM in alcoholISM stands For: I, Self, Me.
The Ego Screams and Hides
The ego lives in the mind and not the spirit. When we practice honesty, purity, unselfishness and love (the 4 absolutes) the ego screams and hides. The more spiritual fit we are, the more filled with the spirit we are, the less ego we have. The spirit lives in our heart and the ego lives in our head. Let’s be honest. No one really wants to clean vomit off a puking drunk but we do it out of love because we were once that puking drunk ourselves. Do I want to drive out to Ypsilanti to pick up a newcomer when the meeting is two minutes from my house in Ann Arbor? My ego surely doesn’t want me to, but there’s a Higher Force driving my vehicle today (and I’m not talking about my car). There’s that old over-used cliché which is so simple, yet so true: E.G.O.= Edging God Out. But the opposite rings true too. God will edge your ego out also and when there’s a battle between the ego and your Higher Power, who do you think will win? (See story about the two wolves)
The Purpose of the 12 Steps
The whole purpose of the 12 steps is to deflate the ego so God can get in. Actually God is already there but you are too blocked by ego to notice Him. Here’s an analogy (I love analogies)… You are standing in a room with another person, you see them, they are there. Then someone fills the room with fog from one of those special effects smoke machines. You can’t see the person anymore? Does that mean the person isn’t there just because you can’t see them? The ego is the fog. It blocks you from “seeing” your Higher Power. Now bring in a BIG fan and blow that fog out of the room. You see the person again. The 12 steps are the proverbial fan.
The bottom line is if you stay egotistical (and we all are when we come into recovery even though we don’t know it. Do a 4th and a 5th step to see it) you will drink/drug again. Let’s say you manage not to drink or drug. You are going to be MISERABLE sober if your ego is calling the shots. Either way. Ego = Death and Destruction, so to me, ego is the dirtiest word in recovery.
Has your ego gotten in the way of your recovery? How do you stay humble?
Peace, Love & Sobriety