It’s Those Little Things That Make The Biggest Difference…

I’ve always said that it’s the little things we do or don’t do in this world that end up making the biggest difference, especially when it comes to the health and longevity of relationships, both intimate and platonic.

For every single relationship, or friendship, I’ve ever been in that’s ended, it’s consistently come down to those little things that were regularly overlooked as the cause. In the past few years, this is precisely what’s been one of my biggest frustrations with my partner.

A good example of what I’m talking about here happened just this past Christmas Day. At the end of that holiday night, I had a stack of holiday cards that had been given to me and were now lying on our kitchen counter, waiting to be hung with the rest already adorning our walls in the living room. Typically, this was a duty my partner does quite diligently as soon as any new card comes in the mail or was given to us, so I asked if he’d hang mine before going to bed that night. His first response was that the holiday season was just about over and that soon everything would be taken down anyway, so why bother. I told him it was important to me and he said ok he’d do it. But it actually wasn’t until two and a half days later and several repeated requests from me, that he eventually got around to doing it.

All in all, hanging those few Christmas cards really wasn’t what mattered to me. What mattered to me more was feeling like I mattered to him. So, when the little things I ask for get forgotten about, neglected, or only done after repeated requests, it tends to make me feel like I don’t matter.

Growing up, this was the very same pattern I dealt with day in and day out. The things I cared about, the things I wanted my parents to listen to, the things that were most dear to my heart, were often forgotten about, neglected, or only done through much pleading and begging. That’s because my parents were caught up in themselves much of the time with their arguing, their addictions, and their selfishness. After I left home and went out on my own as a young adult, I continued falling into the very same pattern with me getting into one relationship after another, and many friendships as well, where the little things that mattered to me the most, never really mattered much to any of those I loved.

Thankfully, through therapy, the ManKind Project, and my 12 Step recovery, I learned that all of those people were simply a mirror for me. I too had often neglected those little things when it came to others and was more selfish than not throughout much of my earlier adulthood. Once I discovered this, I began to work on changing it, which included forgiving my parents for how they were and accepting they did the best they could. I then started making a far greater effort to do those little things for others to show they mattered to me, like I regularly try to do with my partner nowadays, by leaving him special little notes in secret places for him to find, or making it a point to come right away whenever he’s calling me for help, or by doing a chore he asks of me right away, rather than putting it off till I feel like doing it.

Nevertheless, the bottom line is that I ultimately believe it’s those little things that tend to make the biggest difference in all of our relationships with others. Why? Because deep down, I think every one of us wants to feel like we matter in this world, and sometimes it’s those little things that really show we do.

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

The More Important Side Of “Willing To Go To Any Lengths”…

“Willing to go to any lengths” is often a topic in the rooms of recovery from addiction, as it was in my own home group just recently. During the entire hour, I listened intently to each individual share what they were willing to do to remain clean and sober. There was talk of making sure sponsors were regularly called, step work getting done, meetings being attended, etc., all of which are the standard things I’ve heard over the years any time this topic surfaces at a meeting. Unfortunately, there’s one thing that people tend to forget about whenever this topic arises, and for me, it’s the very reason why I’m still active in my recovery 24 years in.

What is it?

It’s a willingness to go to any lengths solely to be there for others.

The whole point of a 12 Step program, no matter what the addiction, is to eventually get out of oneself to help another. I’m willing to go to any lengths today, not necessarily for myself to remain clean and sober, but more so for others who may need my help. In my humble opinion, that is the true foundation of 12 Step recovery work. It’s why I feel I’m in recovery in the first place, because someone else with much greater time than I did that very thing for me when I couldn’t do it for myself a long time ago.

People seem to overlook the whole point of recovery is getting to a life of selflessness, where the drive is to be of service to others and not to themselves, which is precisely why I get frustrated when I hear people saying they are skipping a meeting they normally attend because they’re tired, or there’s bad weather, or some other more important event to go to.

I don’t really attend meetings anymore for myself, I do it because I believe that God can use me there as a vessel to help others find what I was given and taught. So, me not showing up for anything short of sickness or emergency, often feels like I’m just being selfish, for my very presence in any meeting at any point, could change the life of another, just by me listening to them before the meeting, by giving them a hug, by sharing my own experience, strength and hope during the meeting, or by connecting with them after the meeting ends.

12 Step recovery programs were founded on the principle of “we, us, and our”, and not “I” and “me”. We are not here just to keep ourselves clean and sober. We are here to support each other, to lift others up when they are down and we are up and to be lifted up, when we are down, and others are not.

The bottom line is that I am willing to go to any lengths today in the world of recovery for others. I am willing to go to any lengths to show up for others, because I never know where God may use me to be of service to Him. Maybe I’ll be used to save the life of another suffering addict and do the very thing for another that was so graciously done for me all those years ago, when my life was saved from certain doom, when addiction had its icy grips on me, when one person named Lorraine said I’m there for you…because she had the willingness to go to any lengths for me, and I’m forever grateful for that. And now it’s my turn, to return the favor, by going to any lengths for another…

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

Are you a Giver or a Taker?

Are you a giver or a taker? It’s a question I never gave much thought to in my life until I finally made my way into the rooms of recovery from addiction back in September of 2007 when I began to see for the first time that I was clearly a taker and always had been up to that point.

Active serious addicts of any kind are usually takers more than not. They constantly look for the angle in everything they do for anyone else. I.E. There are typically strings attached and hidden agendas to any of their actions for another. And oh, how I know that pattern so well.

I once would help a person with a favor they asked of me, but at the same time I’d store it away in the back of my mind until I really needed something from them, and when I did, I’d quickly remind the individual of my “generous” help to them from however long ago.

Then there’s that other form of takers who hijack conversations during social times such as in group gatherings or at meals dined out. They constantly like to be the center of attention instead of being a good listener and allowing for others to be the main focus of conversation. That was me as well, consistently trying to steal the spotlight and thunder from all in attendance in social settings, solely to feel more important in my life.

I mustn’t forget to mention another type of taker as well, that being one who frequently asks for handouts and favors, yet claim their busy or broke or have some other when something is asked of them. Sadly, here too, as an active addict I was definitely this, placing my needs always first and disappearing when a friend or loved one needed anything.

Essentially, a taker is no more than a user. A user of everyone’s energy, time, money, etc. I.E. A drain on everyone’s spirit. Something I just couldn’t see that I had become until I worked on the 12 Steps to become more selfless than selfish.

Over the past 12 years since I first walked in the doors of recovery and got myself a sponsor, a full 12 years after living as a dry addict, I’ve slowly done my best to chip away at that taker part of me, doing my best to become more of a giver.

Today, I rather enjoy sitting in conversations with loved ones, letting them become the focus, all while showing them how much I care about what they need to talk about. I also regularly like to help others when they ask for favors and do my best to never ask for anything in return, save the exception of possibly asking for something to eat if the favor happens to occur during a mealtime. And I absolutely am no longer that person who places my needs first above everyone else’s, as I have found a much greater appreciation making myself second.

While there are some areas I’m still chipping away it that I deem I’m still being a taker of sorts, like in my frequent need for human touch and hearing positive feedback, I think I can safely say I’ve become more of a giver, enjoying my desire to help others, enjoying volunteering in the world of recovery and outside the rooms as well, and enjoying being there more for others than myself.

The bottom line I learned along the way on my journey from addiction to recovery is that as an untreated addict I was always going to remain a taker in this world, draining it of whatever I could to survive, regardless of how it affected another. To become a giver, I had to turn my will and my life over to the care of a Higher Power, as in doing so, I discovered a genuine willingness to give back to the world I took so freely from for far too long, and the longer I’ve remained in the rooms, turning my will over to God, the more that willingness to be a giver has grown greater…

So, what are you? A giver or a taker?

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson