Human beings are social by nature; one true barometer of health is whether or not we build and maintain nourishing relationships predicated on dignity and respect. Those of us who have spent time in Cookoopantsatopolis understand what it means to be truly isolated from our kind, imprisoned in an irrational, unsafe world of our own. Indeed, there is no loneliness to match the loneliness of the mentally ill. Alcoholism too is an illness of isolation, a lonely avenue of broken glass.
The very earliest phases of recovery involve emerging from a hideous prison of lies and misperceptions, joining with the world of other people at last. At this point it is imperative to trust, for some of us it is the first time we have ever done so. Sadly, we must acknowledge that our judgment is virtually useless, and the opinions of others are almost certainly superior to those of our own. Gradually we learn how to gauge our own behavior by reading the eyes of others, in this way we become the masters of our own well being. The opinions of others become important raw material in the process of self-regulation.
Having learned how it feels to be connected to others, to trust them, even depend on them – it can be hard to know when the moment has come to fly, however, if you are lucky, it will. As a child is ready to leave home, so are you ready at some point to become serenely indifferent to the opinion of others. Everything in this twisted culture of ours will try to persuade you that you are winning only if you are professionally successful, popular and rich – but one very important measure of your actual health will be how successfully you avoid this idiotic bear trap.
If you can look at yourself in the mirror without blinking and honestly say that you are in good faith, making the most of the gifts you’ve been given, and savoring this sweet short life – you’re cool. As a recovered, clear-eyed individual, the moment you are influenced by how your efforts are perceived by others is the moment you begin your fall from grace. If they like what you do, that’s great, if they don’t, that’s great too. By now you can tell if you’re for real or selling soap – if you’re okay – let the others float.
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