“Lookin’ for a home – gotta have a home…”
The Boll Weevil Song
“Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to let you in.”
Robert Frost, The Death of the Hired Man
Most of us have heard that line from the famous poem in one form or another. It sounds great when you say it, but many of us addicts have discovered that it’s a cruel joke. Some of us were never let in, even when we lived there physically. Others of us were rejected – perhaps as a result of our addictions, or perhaps for other reasons. Some of us were ashamed, and rejected home and family because we imagined that we saw ourselves reflected in their eyes. Not a few of us left as soon as we could for other reasons. The last thing we want – and the thing we want most – is to go back, and we have no idea what might happen if we did.
It’s well-known that stress is a major precursor to relapse. This health bulletin from the University of Alabama is practically required reading for folks in recovery, especially from alcohol.
“The body doesn’t distinguish between ‘bad’ stress from life or work and ‘good’ stress caused by game-day excitement,” Gilchrist said. “It impacts your health either way.”
“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
~ Eleanor Roosevelt
Some don’t realize it consciously, but all of us addicts have one thing in common, a feeling, deep down inside, that we want to be different people from who we are. Regardless of the reasons for that, the desire to change what we perceive as our reality, to overcome the feelings of worthlessness, to feel worthy of love, to feel safe in loving – to be whole human beings – is common to all addicts.
I changed who I was in a lot of ways. Continue reading
An overpowering need to be right is born of perfectionism, pride and fear. Some people would risk a relationship, rather than admitting they were wrong, or that someone else’s point of view might be valid – at least for that person. Those of us who carry around that character defect – and the writer is most assuredly in recovery from know-it-all-ism – are often (or often have been) so unable to admit that there are two sides to most things that we have been willing even to alienate loved ones: We’d rather be right than loved.
Without getting into the pathology of overbearing parents who expected too much and all the other developmental nightmares, let’s just say that always having to impress our opinions and facts on others is pathological. It is self-righteousness in disguise, and stems from a deep-seated feeling of inadequacy that causes us to want to prove to ourselves that we’re one up on everyone else. (No one else cares!) “Standing up for our principles” is, in reality, simple mental and emotional inflexibility. There are always two points of view to any discussion, and I suspect that people who are unwilling to listen to others’ positions really don’t understand the issue well enough to have strong opinions about the accuracy of their beliefs. Because this shortcoming bears so directly on our low self-esteem, it’s hard to admit and harder to let go.
And that’s a shame, because it’s such a relief to let go…to learn where others are coming from and why, and to appreciate the ideas that we share, rather than emphasizing the differences. Keeping an open mind, hearing the “other side’s” rationale, accepting their right to hold opinions and the fact – OMG! – that whether we like it or not, there’s a good chance that many if not all of them are valid, to not insist on being right, brings us closer to others and expands the human spirits that we are reclaiming in our recovery.