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A Nice Guy

Anxiety, panic, and fear have been monkeys on my back for the better part of my life. “Why is this happening to me?” was a line I used all too frequently before I arrived at the doors of EHA.

I felt I had been a nice honest guy all my life and that I was a people person. But coming into the program and having to get honest about who I really am, I found out I am very selfish, self-centered and egotistical. I do not like people. Life wouldn’t be such a bad deal if it wasn’t for all these people who don’t seem to think doing things my way is all that important. As a result of this kind of thinking, I developed a “screw you, I’ll show you,” approach to life. If challenged about accomplishing something in my life, I would put my all into it regardless of the cost. Anger was a way to keep down the fear in these situations. Behind my nice guy image and my nice guy smile, I was a bomb looking for a place to go off. I felt very empty and very alone. People who were happy baffled me. I wanted to be happy and to be able to glide through life. Why did God give me all these bumps in my life? I tried everything to make myself feel good. The more I tried to feel good the worse I felt. I realize today that life is not that way. In order to learn and grow you have to make mistakes. I was always afraid of making mistakes, afraid of how I was going to look.

Having been raised in a “big Catholic” family I became the classic blamer. It was my religious upbringing, it was my brothers and sisters. It was my job, it was my family. The only person I ever took a good look at was myself. By the time I came into the program I could barely stand to look at myself in the mirror. My thinking was very warped. It was all their fault! I was unable to drive the freeways. I can’t stand to be in a grocery line. I’m running to the bathroom at work to try and regain my composure and praying in the stall, “Please God, make this go away.” I’m sitting in my car on the freeway giving my life to Christ like the radio preacher is telling me to. Other people’s lives are working, why won’t mine?

Getting up every morning to face the day became a real chore. I sometimes wonder what kept me going. I consider my entry into this program to be a miracle. My wife found a very simple ad in the paper for a meeting in my area and I attended the first opportunity I had. In these rooms I found people who could tell my story and who knew what it was like to live with the anxieties and fears. I did not hear, “Why are you doing this to yourself?” as I had so often heard from my wife. She could not understand because she is not sick like I am.

My life today has flowed from this program. I’m a husband, a father and a friend. These are things I thought I would never see. I was afraid I would never see my children grow up and that I would eventually have to be locked up. Today I can be with people both inside and outside this program and feel comfortable in my own skin. I am a participating parent in my children’s lives and I am doing all the things that being a parent is about. Am I perfect at it? Not by a long shot. I will always be learning. I thank God for the opportunities He has given me through this program, because without it there would have been no life for me.

In closing I’d like to quote a teacher I had many years ago who recognized my selfishness and confronted me with it but the words meant nothing to me until I wound up in EHA. He said, “Someday mister, someone is going to knock you off your high horse.” Truer words were never spoken to me. Wherever that teacher is today I know now that he was right and I now understand. Thank God as I fell off that high horse it was through the doors of EHA.

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