The poet tells us to “know thyself”; yet how many addicts really want to? Especially if we grew up in dysfunctional circumstances, many of us believe other people’s definitions of who we are, and have trouble accepting that we exist without their regard.
Who and what we are is not fixed. We are not meant to be defined by others, but others are always there, willing and available to tell us who we “should” be.
I had an EKG stress test yesterday, and it was good news and bad news. The good news: I got the test done. The bad news: I have some complications that will require more testing, and likely some pretty notable changes in my life.
It got me to thinking about an old Confucian story. In brief, a farmer’s horse runs away. His neighbor consoles him, “Too bad!” The farmer says, “Who knows what’s good; who knows what’s bad?”
The next day, the horse returns with six more horses following him. The neighbor congratulates the farmer on his good fortune, and the farmer says, “Who knows what’s good; who knows what’s bad?” Continue reading
The Second Step reads “Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.” It gets a lot of attention because of that “power greater than ourselves” part, but not so much about the “believe” part.
Just what does it mean to believe? We throw the term around a lot, and it means different things at different times. Take “I believe for every drop of rain that falls, a flower grows,” for example. Hundreds of billions of raindrops fall from one big thunderstorm. If the statement were true we’d be inundated with flowers, even if they were tiny ones, and no one who’s given the idea much thought really believes that. (Nice poetry, though.)
Then there’s the fact that I believe that the Earth is a globe, similar in shape to the one in my office. I don’t know that, but I’ve seen enough information leading to that conclusion that I believe it anyway. Many others do, as well. They, and I, have faith in all that information. We believe the people who tell us that the Earth is not flat.
Now, let’s say that I show you my fist and tell you there’s a jewel in my hand.
The study…has important implications for the problem of relapse in alcoholism, which often occurs in times of stress, and can reduce working memory capacity even further. Average people generally make riskier and more impulsive decisions when their working memory is compromised as a result of stress, information overload, high or low emotional states, or other factors, Finn said.
How judgmental am I? Plenty. It’s a character defect that I’ve worked hard to change, with only limited success, ever since I’ve been sober.
It runs in the family. My granny was one of those women who could never give a compliment without modifying it with a matching put down. “She’s pretty, but look at that dress!” My mom was the same way. She’d drive down the road commenting on every fool that came across her path. An otherwise quiet, gentle soul, she never missed a chance to point out a shortcoming. Thankfully, that didn’t carry over to her kids, but any relative beyond her own siblings, or other passerby, was fair game.
So I came by it honestly, and I reveled in it. There’s nothing like the ability to look at others and see their faults to perk up the spirits of a kid with chronically low self-esteem. We won’t go into detail. Suffice it to say that by the time I was a full-blown alcoholic, I was also skilled in letting you know that I knew — as Rush Limbaugh titled his book — “The Way Things Ought To Be.”
We all bring secrets into recovery, but we can’t throw our garbage into the proverbial closet and leave it there indefinitely. After a while it starts to seep under the door and stink up the whole house. That’s why we have the 4th and 5th of our twelve steps:
Those steps, shared with a sponsor or other trusted person, help us come to terms with our past. Getting our secrets out in the open gives us the willingness and ability to move beyond that part of our lives. MORE…