A guilty pleasure of mine is watching the Wendy Williams Show. Mindless, comedic television is what I need after a long day at work. A few weeks ago Wendy chatted about the brouhaha that ensued at the Target stores as they launched the new colorful, zig-zag patterned clothing line by the Italian luxury designer Missoni. Customers crashed Target’s website with orders and madly cleared the shelves in the stores. The line was completely sold out in a matter of hours.
It wasn’t Wendy’s reference to the frenzy that caught my attention. It was a humorous comment she made that piqued my interest: Bright, horizontal colors do nothing for my figure. I didn’t want any of the clothes, I just wanted to be a part of the crowd.
My thoughts exactly—I want to be included. I’ve spent a lot of time and energy attempting to gain entry into everyone’s world but my own. My life’s resume includes suburban socialite, Betty Crocker, tennis star, scrapbooker, bible teacher, runner, decorator, room mom, etc. Each skill necessary for proper assimilation into someone else’s world but does absolutely nothing for my admission into my own.
More than most people, the alcoholic leads a double life. She is very much the actor. To the outer world she presents her stage character. This is the one she likes her fellows to see. She wants to enjoy a certain reputation, but knows in her heart she doesn’t deserve it.
Instead of appreciating who I was internally, I was too focused on perfecting who I wasn’t externally—all in a futile attempt at fitting in.
One of the greatest gifts the twelve steps gave me was the discovery of who I was not. I distinctly remember the gut-wrenching feeling as I sat across from a dear friend and finished my fifth step. As she stripped away all my stage characters and revealed my character defects, fear had a choke hold around my neck. I recall looking intently into her eyes and with earnestness implored her to tell me who I was. I said, “Katie, if this is who I am not, then who am I?”
As I searched for my “true” identity, it was pointed out that “deep down in every man, woman, and child, is the fundamental idea of God.” Idea not character. Deep down in me is love, tolerance, patience, forgiveness, compassion, and so on. With these communicable attributes from God, I can easily integrate into your world and mine—no stage character necessary.
Vickie Bing is the Alumni Coordinator for BRC Recovery. She received her B.A. in English from the University of Texas at Arlington. Vickie is a former high school teacher and an Air Force veteran. You can read other posts on her blog at The BRC Recovery Blog.