I’m winding down to the end of this “love” month. Next month’s theme is going to dive in to the darker side of things. So, I thought I would take this fine Saturday to write about the tangential side, opposite side, or complete absence of love between people.

I heard a saying early on in sobriety that I still remind myself of almost daily in regards to what other people think of me. “What other people think of me is none of my damn business.” To me, it’s not saying that I should disregard the perception I am giving to others. I think it could very easily be misconstrued as an excuse to be a complete asshole. But, I don’t think that’s the meaning behind it.

To me, it’s a permission to not be paranoid about what people think or how they feel about me all day long, every day. I may have said many times in my life to those close to me that I didn’t care what other people think. That was a load of shit. I cared a lot. I still do care a lot. I think back then though, and still occasionally, I cared about the wrong things and the wrong people.

Nowadays, I concern myself much more with making sure that I am respectful, loving, and tolerant toward the people who matter to me. But, there is that ever lurking little self-conscious voice that wants me to be paranoid about everyone. I’ve started telling that voice that no matter what people might think, feel, or perceive about me I will still show them love and tolerance. This way, I’ve cut out one of the reasons for being paranoid in the first place.

Side Note: I have referenced voices that talk to me in the past in a few posts (I might link some here later, but maybe not). I wanted to clarify that I do not actually “hear voices”, it’s just an easier way to reference the different things that go on in my brain. If you are actually hearing voices that are telling you to do things, then you need to immediately call someone close to you and tell them that you need some professional assistance. Seriously, don’t mess around with that.

I watched Jim: The James Foley Story the other night. If you haven’t seen it, go watch this movie. This man, who was brutally murdered at the hands of middle eastern radical militants, embodied the spirit of love and tolerance throughout his life. Everyone he came in contact with seemed to say the same thing. According to the released prisoners, this attitude and energy stayed true even when he had been imprisoned for years. He showed love and tolerance toward his fellow inmates and his captors. It is mind-boggling how someone can hold such strength in their resolve in a situation that is the epitome of dehumanization.

In conclusion, the greater part of my sobriety has been an effort to focus more and more on my actions, and how they are affecting the people around me. I do this with the goal that eventually there will be a vast majority of positive effects. To me, this is the greatest thing I could aspire to. Spreading love and tolerance, and being able to share that with whomever I come in contact with, friend, stranger, or foe.