“Principles before personalities” is a 12-step concept. The idea being that you don’t have to like everyone, but you have to support everyone on their journey to stay sober, even the people who have really irritating personalities. I try to practice this in all areas of my life. For me, it’s not just about sobriety. It’s about humans getting through life surrounded by one another. We have to deal with each other every single day. My principles include being part of the solution, minding my own business, helping when I am asked and can provide help, and keeping my integrity in tact. I want to do this regardless of the person I am dealing with.
But now I am working in a grocery store, constantly surrounded by customers, and coworkers. And seriously, people make that shit hard!
No, no. I am exaggerating. I find that most people rank on the scale somewhere between awesome and harmless. But then there are the ones who fall on the spectrum between manipulative (that pathetic manipulation in order to save their own asses) and down right malicious. And that is hard for me.
Perhaps the hardest part is that I was once that kind of person. When I was actively in my sugar/food addiction, I often tried to manipulate people and situations to save myself. And when I got angry, I became cruel. I didn’t have a means of expressing my feelings. I didn’t know I even had feelings. I was numbing them with cake. And being angry felt like enough justification to harm others. I was in pain, so you were going to be in pain too.
Now that I have my eating disorders under control, I can deal with people who are hurt or angry or feel treated unfairly. I can apologize for a bad experience, even if it’s not specifically my fault. And even when it is. I can empathize with people in pain, and I can make it better.
But getting attacked is not easy for me. I am the same sensitive person I was at 5 years old, under the covers in the night, praying that life would get less painful, because I didn’t think I would be able to do it if it didn’t get easier. And people do attack. Sometimes with a smile, or a smirk, as if it were a joke. Sometimes with a snarl like a wild animal.
I want to say, You’re at a high end grocery store in a first world country where you can afford to buy meat for $25/lb. Or, You have a union job in a nice suburb. Why do you need to be so malicious, obnoxious, or cruel? Why do you need to hurt someone else?
But, like I said. I was like that too. Until I learned another principle when I got sober from sugar. Gratitude. I didn’t know how lucky I was when I was eating compulsively. I only looked for the ways I was disappointed. I only saw what I thought was wrong.
So I have to go into work today. I’m grateful that it’s a good job. I’m grateful I’m good at it. I’m grateful I’m appreciated there by my coworkers and management. And I am especially grateful the most people fall somewhere between awesome and harmless.
As for the rest, I am grateful that I practice the ideal of principles before personalities.