Category Archives: denial

The Way Things Ought To Be

Every addict I’ve ever met has, in one way or another, had the same answer to his or her own happiness: If (he) (she) (they) (it) (the world) would just do things our way, that’s what would save the world and make us happy.

Those of us with fake self-esteem (the noisy ones) let everyone else know our solutions. If we’re the doormats — the ones who always seem to get hooked up with the noisy ones — we may not explain it to the world, but we still have our own ideas about what would “fix” our problems. All of these visions of The Way Things Ought To Be (TWTOTB) have one thing in common: they all depend on things outside ourselves, “the things we cannot change”.

The big problem is that things outside ourselves are often under the control of someone else, and some things, at least in theory, are under no one’s control — certainly not ours. Just as there can only be one boss in the workplace, whose ideas of TWTOTB most likely differ from ours and who may not want to listen to our counsel, so can there only be one, or at most a few, winners of the lottery. If we pray to win the lottery we are, in effect, praying for millions of othe people to lose. Many of those may need to win more than we do. Disregarding the likely failure of a millions-to-one gamble to provide a solid financial future, most folks of our kind who have won have failed to prosper regardless of the millions of $$, ¥¥, €€ or whatever, and such windfalls have been the downfall of many an addict.

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Trust Your Gut

There is nothing mystical about hunches, intuition, and trusting your gut. We are all the sum total of millions–billions–of experiences, and we remember most of them on some level. We are well-equipped to let our subconscious minds help us out with problems, armed as they are with that wealth of experience.

But we often–if not usually–force ourselves to ignore those gut feelings, the feeling that something is just sort of “icky.” We want to do something, say something, buy something, to fill that empty place inside, and we think up all sorts of ways to justify our wants to ourselves and ignore the message that our subconscious mind is sending loud and clear, if we choose to hear it. Then we go on with the self-deception and make up ways to justify whatever it is to others–our partner, our business associates, our sponsors, our friends but, ultimately, to ourselves.

Good, healthy ideas seldom need justification. Feeling a need to explain, to justify, should tell us that something’s wrong somewhere. It may simply be a neurotic need on our part to assure ourselves and everyone else that we’re really OK, but there’s also an excellent possibility that we’re about to venture where we ought to fear to tread, guided by the child inside who is telling us it’s OK because I Want, I Want, I Want. In either case, there are two possible clues: the urge to hide whatever it is, or the urge to justify it. Both should set off our alarms.

An oldie, but a goody: Concerning a “higher power”

I heard another newcomer at a meeting complaining about how she’d had God shoved down her throat by her parents, and she wasn’t having any part of this Higher Power stuff, blah, blah, blah.  I find this sort of thing tedious, to put it lightly, having listened to and read about it frequently over the years.  Even when I was claiming to be an atheist I thought it was shallow and ill-considered.  So, since it’s my blog, I thought I’d write about my take on the issue.

It seems to me that if there is a Higher Power, in the sense of someone or something unknowable that affects the physical world, then it must be right here, right now.  I have to admit that I have yet to develop that faith.  Frankly, I find the concept of some metaphysical being busy watching over the entire universe a bit difficult to fathom, while still entertaining the idea that I can appeal to that entity for help with my little problems.  

On the other hand, I find the idea of a god within me, you, and perhaps every other living thing or even the Earth itself not only (remotely) possible in a physical sense  — or at least not impossible — but rather pleasant.  The idea of something that permeates my world and provides a gentle push occasionally to keep things running smoothly for those who wish to have things run smoothly is comforting and engenders hope.  I hope that I may come to believe in that sense, someday.

That said, I most emphatically do believe in a higher power in recovery.  The fellowships, their members and my other supports are my higher power at present, and for now they seem to be enough.  Their collective wisdom provides guidance, and their attempts  and successes in sobriety and recovery give me hope.  They’re there when I call on them — not always individually, but invariably in the collective — to provide the sympathetic ear and moral support that I need to further my own recovery.  And I am here for them, which makes me part of someone else’s higher power, I suppose.

That being the case, I want to register my strong opinion that using the “God Issue” as an excuse for turning away from the 12-step fellowships is simply an excuse for not pursuing recovery.  In my 1/3-century-plus of hanging around AA, NA and some of the other A’s, I have never been told by anyone whose opinion I thought worthwhile that I was required to believe in someone’s God-with-a-capital-G in order to stay sober or work a program of recovery.  That is borne out in the basic texts of every fellowship that I have encountered, if a person cares to read beyond the “G-word.”

We don’t have to believe in God to work a good program of recovery.  Period.  But we DO have to believe in some power beyond ourselves, because the humility to accept new ideas is absolutely essential in order to drag ourselves out of the morass of our own twisted thinking and into a place where we can begin to change. As an old sponsor of mine used to say, “There may or may not be a God, but if there is, you ain’t it!”

So spare me the stories of the Gawd of your childhood and the atrocities committed in His name, then or now.  Spare me the sophomoric, angst-filled testimony of how you can’t “get into” AA or whatever because you have to believe in god.  One more time: You can work a perfectly good program without believing in God, regardless of what the Bible-thumpers in the rooms might say.  As is announced at meetings, the opinions there are those of the individual members, not the fellowship as a whole.

The only higher power you MUST have is the people who will help you drag your sorry butt out of the hole of addiction and into sobriety.  If you get careless and start believing in something else — well, I envy you.

Remembering Bill C.

I wrote this some years ago. I’m re-posting it, with some minor editing, because “There, but for the grace…”

I don’t spend much time regretting the past. There are a lot of things I’ve done that—given the opportunity—I’d probably do differently (or not at all) but you have to be careful what you wish for. The Law of Unintended Consequences is nothing to mess with.

Today I’ve been thinking about my friend Bill. I met him during a period in my early twenties when I was driving airplanes for a living. We were drawn to each other by a mutual love of airplanes, flight attendants, and the bars of the Fort Lauderdale area.

This was not too long after the Bay of Pigs, and there was a lot of stuff happening in Africa around then as well. The company we both worked for had, at one time, some clandestine connections with interests in the Caribbean, and shady characters of some repute still wandered around the small airports of South Florida and the islands to the south. I found this moderately interesting. Bill found it fascinating.  Continue reading