May 28

INTEGRITY MONTH: DAY 28: “Character is doing the right thing when nobody’s looking. There are too many people who think that the only thing that’s right is to get by, and the only thing that’s wrong is to get caught.” ― J.C. Watts Jr.

I always remember one man I heard take a cake when I was very new. He had 16 years (!), which was an incredible feat to me at that time.

And he reported that he knew he was getting better because he followed all the rules, even when no one was watching. I love that! I also resonate with the idea that we are not doing wrong when we get away with it.

I believed that for  a long time before I came here. Then I got it that I am paying psychic prices for everything that I do. That was a huge awareness awakening for me. Because I wanted to pay attention only to what others were doing wrong and point that out, rather than own my own shit.

So, I get it that I tried very hard for a great number of years to do only those things that I thought I could get away with, and then realized that they were stones carried in my heart all along. I knew. I always knew. That was the thing that kept me awake at night. Forever. Today I sleep very well, for the most part. My conscience is clear. I love that. I don’t know exactly when it happened, but at around 3 years into this thing, my anxiety was gone, and my fear was gone, and my sadness and heaviness lifted. I was clean! Through and through! It was such a big surprise.

Since that time, I have experimented with being dishonest or less than forthright, or manipulative, or what have you; and I have known, because that feeling of being clean was gone somehow. I felt icky. Like I had secrets again, and I am not comfortable with that. So, I have stopped doing those things, because they show up right away for me.

Sometimes I still have moral dilemmas, because I don’t know how to handle a situation that is puzzling for me. The truth is, I DO know. I always know. I just don’t like the answer I am getting. It usually means that it blocks the road to where I want to go, or I have to let go of something I want to keep. Hahaha…and I wrestle with it until it kicks my butt. Then I do what I know I must do, and I am okay. This happened for me recently. Ugh!

I remember the movie “Flatliners” when it came out in my early recovery. There is a line in there when the actors are coming back from facing bad events in their lives that had impact on others where one of them says “EVERYTHING you do matters.” It was very impactful for me. Because the individuals had not known or remembered some of the actions of their lives that had made a difference (good and bad) in the lives of others. And they got to relive those experiences and see the consequences and outcomes of their unmindful behavior at various times in their lives. Very powerful for me. It was a small part of the movie, but that was something I have held onto for all these years. Everything we do DOES matter…everything.

And I don’t know how some of it plays out, but I agree with the man who took that 16 year cake…recovery IS all about doing the right things, even when no one is watching. I don’t always follow all the rules (driving especially!), because that is not what integrity is about in my book. But I do know I will always shoot for doing the right things.

Published by: Kelly

I am a therapist and counselor with long-term recovery from addictions and personal trauma. My writing reflects these experiences and the road I have traveled in 12-Step recovery settings, along with the work I have done for over 30 years in the field. My love of dolphins includes the stories of them being healers in places all over the world. I long to offer every broken spirit and body the experience of a healing hug. May my words and stories inform, uplift and delight your spirit and soothe your weary heart.

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