Ever look at someone else and think, “Wow, now they have problems. Just look at… how much he drinks, how fat he is, how lazy he is, how many tattoos he has, how many piercings he has, whatever…” Yet the person we’re looking at might be looking at us and thinking the exact same thing that we are. It’s normal human nature to see the faults of others while being completely oblivious to our own. This isn’t a lecture or meant to infer that you’re completely blind to reality. This is meant to be little reminders to look closer at the mirror and to not be so judgmental of others.
The inability (or unwillingness), to see our own behaviors is a condition which has plagued human beings for all of history. It’s only natural to not want to see our own problems or misbehaviors. Looking for, seeing, and then acknowledging your own weaknesses or a dependency is a very difficult and humbling exercise. Even when we see the true reflection we may not want to believe it or do anything about it.
When you’re mired ass deep in your own dependency problems it’s not easy to see yourself in the mirror and it seems like everyone is ragging at you, busting your balls and trying to get you to change. You might think that all some people do is go out of their way to criticize you, but it happens less than you think. People rarely walk up to you and say, “Hi Sandra. Wow you look great in that dress but you sure are a drunken slut. So, have you fucked up anything new in your life lately?” But then again I could be wrong. Maybe a lot of people do say that to Sandra?
So, about this mirror. The mirror of life is deceptive. It can distort what we see. We might either see good or see bad. The mirror can play cruel tricks. For some people the mirror doesn’t reflect true beauty, or at least the person looking sees distorted beauty. The skinny woman (or young girl) who feels she must lose even more weight to be accepted. The salesperson that sees an inept, bumbling businessperson in the mirror. The individual who sees only a failure standing before them. For those who struggle with low self-esteem and low self-worth they see nothing of value, nothing attractive. The beauty is there right in front of them, but they see a distorted view. They can have a friend stand right next to them and the friend can see an honest, hardworking, intelligent, thoughtful, valuable person, but the one looking sees a lazy, ugly, water bloated mess.
Life’s mirror plays another trick—it doesn’t reflect the lack of problems. It doesn’t show us that we’ve avoided a catastrophe, problem or a dependency. We see healthy skin tones but we may not appreciate what we see. If only that mirror could show us what we would have looked like if we had continued drinking. The mirror only reflects what exists, not what is missing or can’t be seen. (I expand on the problem of not seeing the lack of things in the next blog article.)
A mirror is actually a very useful tool. Why do we use a mirror? We use the mirror to preen ourselves, to make sure that we look proper, to make sure that our tie is straight or lipstick isn’t smudged. We look into the mirror to make sure we appear attractive to others and maybe even to admire ourselves a bit. You can use life’s mirror in the same way. To preen your behaviors, to make sure that your actions are proper and to admire the good and the beauty that is YOU.
This topic isn’t just about looking in the mirror to find alcohol or drug dependency issues; it has so much to do with all areas of life. There is a fantastic line in a song by the Butthole Surfers. “You never know just how you look through someone else’s eyes.” It so important that I’ll repeat it: “You never know just how you look through someone else’s eyes.”
I can only imagine what people see in me that I can’t or don’t want to see myself. For instance at this point in my life I have 4 dogs, but at one time I did have 8 dogs at my house. I personally owned 6 dogs and traveled the country in an RV with all 6 dogs. People must have looked at me and said, “Hey look, it’s that crazy dog guy again,” but I didn’t see myself as a crazy dog guy. To me they were just my family.
Have you ever heard someone say something like, “Oh my God look at her; she has 5 cats… what a nut bag!” But the person saying this has 3 gigantic dogs themselves and they think they’re ok. Or someone might say, “That guy can’t keep a job for more than a week,” while the accuser is continually getting released from jobs every 3 months them self. Here’s another one of my favorites: “People think I drink a lot, but Jim, now that guy is a drunk—he has a problem.”
When you hear yourself saying, “Now that guy has problems, just look at what he does,” remember that you don’t know everything about him or why he does what he does. Consider whether you’re saying something to tear someone else down or to self-justify your own behavior and build yourself up.
“You never know just how you look through someone else’s eyes.”
I was blind to my own dependency on drinking and I certainly couldn’t see my own behaviors. I still have problems seeing my own behaviors, so I have to ask others what they see through their eyes. So once or twice a year I will call or visit with a close friend and ask them to critique me. I let them know that I’m not going to argue or interrupt with a defense. I’m not going to hold their critique of me against them. To get this started I’ll come right out and ask, “What do you see that I don’t see. What personal characteristics or behaviors could I stand to improve on?”
I might have to seed them a little by saying, “For instance, I think I can be a bit emotionless and come across as callous. I should work on being more pleasant with my words and facial expressions. What do you think?” This helps the other person feel more comfortable to critique and will usually help them open up. At that point they might respond, “Well, you can be brutally direct. So ya, maybe you might want to temper your words a little but you can still be honest.” I don’t always like the feedback I get (especially when I know they’re right) but how else will I ever see myself through someone else’s eyes if I don’t ask?
If you’re serious about your sobriety and you’re serious about improving yourself and your life, don’t be afraid to ask the people who you love and trust what they see in your mirror. You might be surprised at what you hear. “You never know just how you look through someone else’s eyes.”
Don’t let the mirror of life fool you. Somewhere in that mirror resides the true reflection. If you look closely I’m sure you will see a kind, charitable and valuable person. You may also be able to see a few warts and zits that could use a little attention. So have some pride and go ahead and treat those warts and zits. But also see the vibrant good and beauty that is there, right in front of you. When you see the good image of you, you’ll want to live up to that image. So look for the good, I know it’s there.
That’s it. Thank you for spending your time to read or listen to my podcast. If you enjoy this stuff or get something out of it please tell your friends about my website. It’s LivingSoberSucks.com. I offer my site, blog and podcasts for free and without the control of annoying advertisers. If you like what I do and what I write about, you can help me pay for all this by making a donation to my site securely through PayPal: http://www.livingsobersucks.com/donate_to_this_site Donations are NOT tax deductible; I proudly pay taxes on every penny I earn.
Thanks again for spending some of your very valuable time with me. My name is Mark Tuschel.