“We rise by lifting others.” Robert Ingersoll
I grew up in an alcoholic family. There was a lot of dysfunction around me and, to make a long story short, I was severely depressed. That led to a number of other problems, of course, and so my mother got me into volunteer work when I was thirteen, hoping it would relieve my anxiety and sadness. It wasn’t the immediate panacea that we’d hoped it would be, but it was a step in the right direction. And it brought me out of my isolation.
Life unfolded for me in a dizzyingly assortment of ways: there were three children including my addict Angie and all the heartache that goes with her illness; a lot of travel in the Foreign Service; and a fulfilling teaching career. I’ve had a great life and I am very grateful. But through it all, thanks to my mother, I’ve been a volunteer in various different organizations. The work has kept my perspective healthy and made me feel better about myself, something I sorely needed. And it’s taken me most of my life and much 12-Step recovery work to truly celebrate myself fully. Helping others always helps me more.
Happy New Year!