Updated: May 15, 2020
I was talking to one of my new close friends this morning, whom I found through sobriety, and I asked her what joys she found through her sobriety. She has been sober for eight years. Her response was this, "You learn to just be you. No more pretending. You do something wrong, you apologize. You see someone who needs help, you help them." When I read her response I immediately thought about interaction. Interaction with ourselves and with others. When I was drinking I know I spent a lot of time in my own head thinking about me; what I was doing, or trying to do; what I was saying, or trying to say; or what people thought of me, or what I thought they thought of me. I did not spend a lot of time actually acting in ways that would naturally void any concerns I had about those things in the first place.
Awareness carries with it an enormous amount of benefits. But, it is also something misunderstood by a lot of people. I guarantee the person who cut you off on the road, or the person who stopped walking at the top of the escalator, or even the friend who forgot your birthday all believe they are aware humans too and that the rest of us are oblivious. So, what does awareness really mean? Let's look at the definition.
Noun: A concern about and well-informed interest in a particular situation or development.
Awareness is not just seeing something happen and reacting accordingly. The two words in the definition that stick out to me are concern and interest. You have to buy into what is happening around you. You have to care that the person in the other car may have somewhere important to be. You have to know if you stop at the top of an escalator you may injure someone. You have to understand that your friend may really need to hear from you on their birthday. Awareness is caring about others as much as yourself and using that emotion to act in ways that may not always be the easiest or most beneficial for you. Sometimes, we have to behave in ways that benefit others more than ourselves because we understand they may need something more than we do in a particular moment.
When I asked L about awareness this morning, she said it was about being present. I don't think there is a better way to describe awareness, actually. I didn't fully understand it when she first said it but think about it; in order to behave in the ways I stated above, you have to be present in any given situation in order to act appropriately. Otherwise, you are simply reacting, and reacting is generally not beneficial to anyone involved. We both agreed that one of the areas of our lives that we have both witnessed the importance of being present is within relationships. People argue, it happens, but the ability to argue fair and well makes the difference between a misunderstanding and a full-on battle. L and I have both benefitted from the other's presence in our relationship over the past four months and we agree that we do not "fight" like we used to.
I appreciated the sentiment from my friend about helping others as well. I would not be writing my blog every day, or hosting online sobriety meetings, or trying to reach out to people in recovery to check on them every day if I did not have a desire to help others. I will be totally honest in saying that I am not really trying to do these things. Like my friend said, I see people who need help and I offer what help I can, it's just what I do now. This was definitely not always the case, and it is definitely one of the joys of sobriety I appreciate most.
Everyone needs someone to be aware of them.