I first heard the phrase "Skills and Ills" at an NA meeting in my first three months of being clean. It comes from the book "Living Clean" in a passage talking about work. It lit up my synapses right away.
"One member talked about finding a job that suited his “skills and ills”; when we find the right environment, we see that we can be distinguished by some of the things that used to make us most uncomfortable about ourselves. Some of us are naturally industrious, and others are really good at sitting still and being present in the moment. Either one can be an asset or a defect, depending on how we use it. The guilt of being unproductive and stealing time at work feeds on itself. On the other hand, the drive to stay in constant motion can be a consequence of fear. When we don’t take time to reflect on what we’re doing and how we’re doing it, small mistakes can add up quickly. As with everything else we do, we seek a healthy balance."
Narcotics Anonymous Fellowship. Living Clean: The Journey Continues . Narcotics Anonymous World Services, Inc.. Kindle Edition.
Now the rest of the chapter goes on to talk about how work and structure are important, but I never got past "Skills and Ills". In all honesty, it was really "Skillz and Illz" in my head. For me, it was an embracing of all parts of me. My yin and yang, my manias and depressions, my hyperfocus, and zero-focus. By embracing all aspects of myself, and "Owning" (for me owning something means knowing how it works down to the smallest details) them, I give myself permission to reflect on each aspect, to become mindful of when it's working and when it's not.
Over a year later I still ponder my Skillz and Illz. Lately, I've been thinking about sharing Rollercoaster.Dev under my name. The reason I started it, and I know it hasn't been that long, was to have a safe space to write about my struggles. But the last few weeks have made me rethink that approach.
Over the last two weeks, we've seen massive protests for Black Lives Matter after a Black man named George Floyd was murdered in broad daylight by a police officer over an alleged forged bill or check. I was hit really hard when I first saw the video and I was amazed at the turnout at the protests. The protests showed to the world that the American police are excessively violent, racist, and over militarized. It showed the world what Black People and Non-Black People of Color are dealing with daily.
The movement showed me that I need to do more than simply "not be racist", I need to be Antiracist. I started reading, and following Black People and learning about the horrid history of oppression in the U.S. and in the world and I slowly started realizing how privileged I am to be able to hide my handicaps, my mental health problems, my addiction, my ADHD, my bipolar. I can hide them most of the time. I've gotten pretty good at it. You can't hide the color of your skin.
There it is. I feel like if I don't put my name on this if I don't truly own my Skillz and Illz, I'm being a coward and taking advantage of my privilege. So here we go...
My name is Joe Czarnecki.
I am a recovering cocaine addict and alchoholic. As of this post I have been clean for 483 days.
I have Bipolar Disorder Type 1.
I have severe ADHD.
I can teach myself things very quickly.
I'm not afraid of being uncomfortable.
When I make a decision, I stick to it.
I dream big.
If you speak German, I just did an episode on Bullshit Bingo der Podcast. (I made the website as well)