Selfish Bastard

by Bill Brenner on January 30, 2010

The author has found that service is an excellent tool for OCD management. Simply put, it forces him to stop being a selfish bastard.

In OA, those of us in recovery from our compulsive eating disorders rely on a set of tools that go hand in hand with the 12 Steps. There’s the plan of eating, writing, sponsorship, the telephone and literature. There’s anonymity. And there’s service to others.

The plan of eating is what’s most necessary for me, but I think my favorite tool is service.

I’ve been doing a lot of service of late. Last month and then this morning, I qualified at an OA meeting, which means I led the meeting and, as part of that, stood in front of people and shared the story of what I used to be like, what happened to make me seek help for my addiction, and what I’m like now.

Tonight, I’ll take the kids to a dinner in the basement of our church to celebrate the start of Catholic Schools Week, where I’ll help with the cleanup afterward.

I thrive on these things for one simple reason: It forces me to step out of that selfish little world where addicts live.

Here’s a fact about addicts: We are among the most selfish people on the planet. Or, as Nikki Sixx says in the final track on Sixx A.M.’s soundtrack for The Heroin Diaries: “You know addicts. It’s all about us, right?” That selfishness usually leads us to do stupid things that make us feel shame. In the midst of that shame, we lie.

That sort of behavior can overwhelm us, no matter how much we want to be better people. That’s why the tools of recovery are so important. They force us out of the hole. In the process, the people around us play an active role.

When I do service, the people I may be trying to help are helping me as well. If it’s through OA, everyone is supporting each other. It’s the same at church, be it through school activities or actively participating in Mass. That’s why I do lectoring. Actively participating in Mass helps me to pay attention to what’s going on instead of sitting there locked inside my head.

The battle with selfishness is an ongoing, brutal thing. But through service, I’m getting a little better each day — bit by bit.

I hope.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Erin Brenner February 2, 2010 at 4:46 am

I think service serves that purpose for everyone; it’s just that recovering addicts have figured it out while the rest of us stumble around in the dark.

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