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Category: Worthy of Respect

The Company You Keep

January 27, 2024

Some years ago, I found myself in a room full of people I never would have willingly interacted with before that point. As an attempt to support a loved one, I started attending 12-step addiction recovery meetings. My first few meetings I quietly judged those in the room. I was only there for someone else, not for myself, and those people were somehow weaker than me because they had those issues I did not have.

So naive.

Finally, I started to actually work the steps myself–again, to be an “example” for my loved one–and as I began working the steps with an eye finally focused on myself instead of trying to fix others, I had a powerful realization: I was the same as them. They were the same as me. We were all in pain, we were all struggling, we were all working to find a way out of the darkness, and we all had addictions, because what is an addiction if not a self-destructive behavior that causes us to avoid dealing with the actual problems? I was master and queen of avoidance and denial. In fact, I belonged there even more than any of the rest because my denial and avoidance ran much deeper than theirs. They were my examples. They were the ones who showed up at that meeting with their own eyes open and a deeper humility because they knew they needed help. They needed help and I needed them because I needed help, too. 

Once I broke down that barrier of denial and owned my darkness, true healing began for me. I will be forever grateful for those vulnerable, authentic, powerful souls who showed me how it’s okay to be human. 

In my current career, I have opportunities to learn from world-famous business people and multi-millionaires. They encourage me to surround myself with the kind of people I want to be and remind me that I become the company I keep. I seek out successful entrepreneurs in my area and go to chamber of commerce luncheons. I network with movers and shakers in my industry and in my community. I absorb the energy and enthusiasm of those who have achieved great things and who live a life of abundance because that is what I want for myself and my family. These interactions are excellent and they teach me so much.

And the most powerful and memorable connections are the ones I now create as I volunteer with domestic abuse survivors and teach them the empowerment of managing their own finances. The most rewarding times are those when I tell them I used to be in the exact same darkness and we are connected by empathy and compassion. The moments that build my soul are those where someone now sees light and feels like they can make it where darkness and hopelessness once existed. The strongest, most courageous souls I’ve ever met have come from these darkest of places.  

You are the company you keep, so I shall continue to rub shoulders with some of the most extraordinary people on the planet: those who have conquered darkness and are seeking light. Some of them might be dressed for the fundraising gala in shiny and sparkling black and white and others might be wearing the latest from the thrift store clearance rack. They are all the same as me.

Lead photo credit: Karl Magnuson via Unsplash