Category Archives: alcoholism

Rationality Can Equal Control Issues

Addicts are attracted to chaos. Although we crave stability, many of us find it extremely uncomfortable. Despite what we believe to be the case, we find chaos and lack of control normal, because it reflects the conditions in which we grew up: lack of autonomy, capricious decisions and behavior by others, and no stable foundations for our lives.

Who’s running the show?

Whether we came from dysfunctional families where complete chaos was the norm or equally dysfunctional roots where all the reins were held by others, the effects are the same. As kids and in adulthood we continually tried/try to gain control of our lives by controlling others or by acting out. By attempting to control others we unconsciously create the familiar conditions of our childhood in an adult setting. By acting out, we stifle our lack of control beneath drugs, eating, sex, shopping or what have you. In either case — usually, both — we are attempting to control feelings and/or situations that we find uncomfortable or intolerable.

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My Cup Runneth Over (It’s not what you think)

“The minute I stopped arguing, I could begin to see and feel.”
Twelve Steps And Twelve Traditions, AA World Services

A student went to visit a Zen master. As the student talked on about all the things he knew about Zen, the master served the tea. Naturally he served the guest first, as is the custom. He poured until the cup was full, and then continued pouring. The student watched the cup begin to overflow and  blurted, “It’s full! It’s overflowing!”

“This is you,” the master replied. “How can I teach you unless you first empty your cup?”

Many of us are afraid to admit that we don’t know. To us, it’s like a little piece of death, as if someone were taking away a bit of who we are. For those of us whose self-image is based on our intellect, rather than a steady belief that we have an innate value that can’t be taken from us, to admit that we are wrong is to admit that we are of no value.

It’s a terrible way to live, constantly having to argue, to show others how we really are on top of our game, that we’ve got it together, that we know it all. It’s like being in a constant battle for intellectual — and, often, moral — superiority, and it prevents us from learning things that can eventually lead to truly clear, unfettered thinking and the ability to appreciate ourselves and others for who we really are.

Another pertinent aphorism reads, “You can’t teach a man what he thinks he already knows.” How true, in all but a very few cases.

I used to teach remedial driving to police officers who had exceeded their department’s quota of auto crashes. Most police departments accept that officers will occasionally have a “bit of a shunt” as the British say. It’s the nature of a profession that involves a lot of unavoidable distracted driving, often augmented by adrenaline and a certain amount of fear (and maybe a teensy bit of testosterone, but let’s not go there).

Almost to a man — and I use “man” intentionally, because women are, generally speaking, far easier to teach — they’d sit in the classroom session on the first day and look totally bored, ask smartass questions, and generally act like a bunch of macho guys in a place that they find embarrassing. “Me? Need driving school! Hell, I write tickets for people who don’t know how to drive right!”

We’d tell them specifically what the driving exercises were going to be and the technical details of what it would take to complete them. In the afternoon session, we’d take them out on the track and put them in situations that required pretty sophisticated driving skills. Invariably, they’d quickly become teachable as they discovered that the instructors actually knew stuff that they didn’t, and that they were willing to impart it to those who would listen. By the end of the 3-day course, some of them were asking if they could come back and repeat it.

That’s sort of like hitting a bottom. We find we can’t do it, whatever it is, and we then become teachable. But we still have to overcome the automatic defenses that we’ve built up over our lives: the inability to admit that there’s something we don’t know. We have to empty our cup in order to accept more tea. And then keep our mouths shut until it’s our time to serve the tea.

Any of that sound at all familiar?

Narcissism and Addiction

The following is a quote from the July 29th entry in “Beyond Belief…” by Joe C.

Narcissism and addiction are often synonymous with each other. Seeing others as individuals separate from our needs and our agendas is essential for contentment. When we are in a healthy mental state [other people] are separate individuals. A healthy understanding of their roles in our lives and our role in theirs guides our interdependent relationships. We see the boundaries. Some lines we created and we are mindful of what those lines symbolize. Other lines are boundaries drawn by others, which we respect. Either way, we don’t look at people as things to control or avoid being controlled by, to use or be used by, etc.”

Thanks Joe. I needed that.

A Secular Form Of The Twelve Steps

Some readers may find this helpful.

https://whatmesober.com/a-secular-form-of-the-twelve-steps/

What About The Way I Drink (Take 2)

This is a reprint of an earlier post. It still works.

People sometimes have questions concerning their drinking patterns and whether they might constitute signs of alcoholism. Typical among them are the issues of drinking alone, to relax, to “kill the pain,” and so forth. Many of these could apply to the non-medical or recreational use of drugs, as well as most process addictions.

First of all, lest drinkers object to being lumped together with drug users, let me point out that alcohol (ethanol) is a drug, and that drinking beverage alcohol is recreational drug use. Ethanol is not only a drug, it is one of the most lethal ones when used to excess. Simply withdrawing from alcohol, once addicted, can be fatal without medical supervision. So drinkers who like to tell themselves that they’re better than people who use drugs need to think again. The only differences are that their drug is cheaper, more easily acquired, and legal.

There is a quote attributed to one B. Franklin: “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” Certainly, there is nothing wrong with a couple of beers at the end of a hard day, and for 80 to 90% of the population, that’s all that drinking amounts to (if they bother to drink at all). But pointed questions need asking if we become uncomfortable when denied the beers. Continue reading

Thought for the day — 7/15/2018

Rigidity is not sobriety. Rigidity is expecting the world to conform to our wishful thinking. Sobriety is about learning to safely navigate life’s inevitable twists, turns and challenges.