“Hi, I’m David and I’m Hope-aholic.”
“Hi David!” roars a big crowd.
“I’ve been struggling with my addiction to hope for years, going in-and-out of the rooms of HA [Hope-aholics Anonymous]. I’ve spent countless years hoping that someone or something will make me whole. It started when I was a kid. I hoped that the approval of other kids would do it. When I was a teen, it was girls and popularity. Nowadays, it’s having a healthy relationships, a good professional life and material security that occupy my hopes. These things sound reasonable enough, but I know that deep down I am setting myself up. I know that as long as I hope things will be different than what they are, I can’t be okay with now. I know that if I’m looking for something external to make me whole, who I am, as I am, will forever be insufficient.
The other night I almost relapsed on hope. A friend had invited me to an introduction seminar for a yearlong course on how to grow my business. I knew it was a bad idea to go. I read on the website that there would be an open-bar of hope from 7-8.
I arrived at a medium-sized boardroom at the Time Square Hilton, where there were 20 or 30 other people waiting. Some looked normal and like they could handle their hope, but there were definitely some other addicts in the room. There was a masseur named Kyle, who looked like he was on a hope binge. He was talking about seeing Bryan (the guy leading the course) before and how inspiring he was. Then he mentioned Landmark and Tony Robbins and Byron Katie. He was clearly strung out, living only for hope of better things in the future.
Bryan started the seminar. He seemed clairvoyant, like he knew all the things that I hoped for. He knew all the reasons why I think I’m not good enough. He knew that I was having trouble growing my business and didn’t feel like I made enough money, that I felt like I lacked a support structure, that I often found myself up against my fears of success and failure. He had answers too. He gave me a little free sample of what he could deliver—some really good advice about maintaining relationships. I could feel my craving for hope getting stronger the more he talked.
My higher power must have intervened because I started to see what was happening. I was being triggered. I wanted Bryan to save me, to make me whole. I was getting high on second-hand hope. I was even thinking about forking over $5K to be a part of his course. It’s not that the course wouldn’t have yielded some valuable tools. The problem was that my mind had decided that this was the thing that was going to save me. It wasn’t just about learning some business skills—it was that Bryan was going to fix my fundamentally flawed nature.
I have been to that place so many times before: hoping that something— a pair of shoes, a relationship, a degree, whatever—would take away my problems, would take away my fears, would compel me to do the things I didn’t want to do, would make me whole. It’s not that these things were useless (I still have some of those shoes), but they couldn’t deliver what I wanted of them to. Eventually and invariably, I was disappointed, these things didn’t make me whole. Hopes were dashed.
What I’ve come to learn in HA is that nothing is going to fix me, because there’s nothing to fix. There’s no pair of shoes, girl, job, amount of money, electronic device, workshop, or spiritual attainment that’s going to make me whole. I’m beginning to see that it’s only the belief in my lack of wholeness that makes me un-whole. Okay, so I don’t make much money and my business skills are woefully insufficient to produce the kind of results I want right now, but I know that doesn’t mean I’m not whole. It just means I might want to acquire those skills.
It’s been a tough journey, but things are getting easier. One day at a time, through the steps of HA and the my higher power, I’m really learning to lose all hope.”