THE FIRST LAYER
So, I wrote a book! It was printed by professional printers and is being sold. It feels as if I am adulting successfully! If people buy it and work through it, their lives may get better too. So, I might be helping people. That feels awesome!
The book I wrote is called “The First Layer”. It is a workbook, so it is low on words and high on space for the reader to write. Its purpose is to help people with addiction problems, as well as those with substance abuse and behavioural issues. What I mean with “substance abuse and behavioural issues” is this: I had contact from a few people who informed me that they do not see themselves as addicts, but at stages they do experience some form of obsessieve behavioural problem, like “overdoing” drugs, cigarettes, alcohol, food, watching series, masturbating, shopping or a number of things too varied to spell out here. Others admitted to indulging in certain actions or behaviours that they would like to stop, but do not know how to. These behaviours cause them discomfort or shame and keep them from living life to the full. They asked if I think “The First Layer” could work for them. I suggested that they try it. If it works, good for them. If not immediatelly aleviating these behaviours, there are numerous other benefits that could be derived from doing this work. The twelve steps are known for causing spiritual awakenings. Be warned, a better life may be waiting!
I think a common problem for most of us is that we are normally too afraid to try something. We rather live in fear and regret, than deal with failure. This was the choice I had to face when the idea of writing a condenced twelve step workbook was presented to me. My first reacion at that stage was that it sounded like a good idea, but I could not see myself doing it. I am not exactly a do-er. I tend to rather watch people do great things and then feel jealous about their success. But, the idea stuck in my head. I started praying about it and meditated on it. I know my higher power is not going to talk me directly. I believe that my god speaks to me through my gut feel and by listening to other peole who love me and care for me and want the best for me. I thus spoke to my closest confidantes and the feedback was a resounding “YES! DO IT.”
So, I faced my fear and started writing. I have learnt to ask myself this question when I feel fear: “What exactly are you afraid of, Freddie?” Invariably, and even embarrassingly so, my fear relates to what people are going to think of me. I was afraid that people will think: Who does he think he is to presume himself qualified to write a book like that? Or: What does he think he has to offer? The idea of criticism scared me. I was afraid that, in my effort to help people, I would end up feeling bad about me! Fear can be seen as an acronym for false evidence appearing real. When I was living in this fear, I kind of forgot that I am eight years clean from drugs and alcohol and a qualified Holistic Counsellor. And frankly, I forget that what you think of me is none of my business.
So, I sat down and wrote “The First Layer”. I chose “The First Layer” as the title, becuase it is a general analogy in recovery to look at our lives as an onion. Our lives consist of layer upon layer of experiences and events and emotions and characteristics. When we work on ourselves, we are peeling the top layer and are able to investigate what is underneath. But, what we are looking at is only the next layer. In order to know what is underneath that one, we need to do more work to peel that layer and so on an so on, in the hope of eventually reaching the core of our beings. This book is merely the process of peeling the first layer off. On page 3, I refer to it as ‘a “first glimpse”, “an introduction”, “a tongue-tip taste”, and “a toe in the water” on this amazing journey of recovery.’
The book was finished already and was being edited. But, I was still not sure if I was actually going to publish it. Then life happened. The company I was contracting to, due to financial reasons, ended my contract. Suddenly I found myself jobless and filled with fear about the future. It then dawned on me that, if I wanted to be okay in life, I shall have to stop basing all my important life decisions on fear. I looked back at my life and could clearly see a pattern of fear-based decisions carving my destiny. Fear ruled my life. I am 50 and it was time to stop fear from making my decisions for me. One of the ninth step Alcoholic Anonymous promises states that “fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us”. I always jokingly remarked that basically all the promises have come true for me, but that my fear of economic insecurity is still very much present.
The time has come for Freddie to put his big boy undies on and tackle life.
It was bloody scary. But, due to having been working the twelve steps for all my addictions for the past eight years, I had a set of tools that I could use to win in this battle of Freddie versus fear.
I felt ashamed that I have been clean in the twelve step program for so long and still living in fear. After all, in step seven I identified fear as one of my primary character defects and was taught in step eight that trust and faith were the opposite spiritual principles of fear. All I needed to do was ask for fear to be removed, let the fear go and start applying trust and faith in my life. I can honestly say that a vast amount of the fear I had in my life have been removed. But, this fear is in the layer of my life onion that I am peeling at the moment. The time has come for me to face the fear of economic insecurity and do what I WANT to in life and not necessarily what I felt I HAD to do.
Part of what I want to do in life is to help people. I was already doing that as a part-time Counsellor. I realised that “The First Layer” is another way of living my passion. Not publishing the book was not an option anymore. If I wanted to live my life in integrity and be true to me, then publishing “The First Layer” is what needed to happen. And it did!
What I found interesting was how easy it was to write the book. Ultimate y it was about sitting down and doing what needed to be done. But, the process from there was far more intricate than what I had imagined. I am not going to bore you with the details, but think of the editing process. It is something that took much longer than what I expected. It had to be done over and over again. I am not a writer and this is not a literary work. I can imagine what the process will be like for a 380 page novel! Then the pages needed to be layed out and the book had to be designed. I had to decide on a size for the book and the width ofevery margin. Even every header and footer were decisions to be made. A front page and back page had to be designed - even the back of the book needed that attention! Then the ISBN numbers had to be obtained and put in at the correct places. All this was only for the printed version! The electronic version brough about the same challenges, as Amazon needed the information in a different format, which was not compatible with what I had. Back to square one! Had it not been for my Computer Scientist husband, who did all the formatting and design for me, I would probably have given up.
The end-result though is worth it.
I am very proud of the look and feel of “The First Layer”.
I hope and trust that the content is as helpful as I indend it to be. The limited feedback that I have been receiving so far is excellent and that makes me happy.
It is not often that I feel proud of me. I am trying to enjoy this phase as much as I can.