Humility, Vulnerability and Safe People: Step 5
Humility. We may hear this word a lot when we are in recovery, but what does it actually mean? The Merriam-Webster definition is as follows: “the quality or state of not thinking you are better than other people.” I don’t know too many addicts that think they are better than others. In my experience, addicts usually feel that they are less than or below others. So, what does becoming humble mean for us?
When I think of becoming humble, I think of the first step in the 12-steps. “We admitted that we were powerless over our addiction - that our lives have become unmanageable.” If we can do that, then we are practicing humility. Sometimes humility means to simply shed some pride. I personally believe that pride is one of the many strongholds that can keep us from recovery. It can also keep us from being vulnerable with others, which is a key anecdote to living a life of recovery. For clarification’s sake, the Merriam Webster definition of vulnerability is as follows: “capable of being physically or emotionally wounded”. What?! Why would we want to be physically or emotionally wounded? Chances are, if we have struggled with the chains of addiction, we are already wounded physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. We need to heal and we can’t do it alone. One of my favorite quotes is “Sorrow shared is halved and joy is doubled” (Native American proverb). Being vulnerable with another person helps us get the garbage that we have suppressed and compacted into the deepest parts of us out of us. It can be the release we longed for when we were active in our addiction.
Being vulnerable with others was not especially difficult for me—once I found the right people to be vulnerable with. That last part is important. We don’t want to share all of our deepest darkest secrets with just anyone. We don’t want to “give dogs what is sacred…or throw our pearls to pigs” because if we do “they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear [us] to pieces” (Matthew 7:6 NIV). In other words, it is important to find “safe” people to share the intimate details of our lives, both past and present, the ugly truths and the most beautiful pieces of us. So, how do we know a safe person when we see them? Safe people might exemplify the following characteristics: compassionate, caring, unbiased, non-judgmental, loving, patient, kind, encouraging, open and honest, etc. There are many positive attributes that a “safe” person could have, but what is most important is that you feel safe with them in every way – physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.
Find your safe people, even if it’s just one or two people. More than likely, it won’t be many more than that and that’s OK. What is crucial is that you can share about the deepest parts of you and continue to be accountable in your recovery process.
5. Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.