Some readers may find this helpful.
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
Today is being celebrated as the 83rd anniversary of the last drink by a drunken proctologist from Akron, Ohio. His sobriety eventually led to the founding of the first Twelve-Step fellowship.
“Cover tunes are popular because nothing succeeds like past success. The Twelve Steps aren’t hit songs, great literature or particularly original, but as a guide for living, they have a track record. Change doesn’t come from reading and understanding the steps. They are a successful formula that can be loosely or strictly adhered to. But the recovery is in the action -- the doing.” [emphasis mine] ~ Joe C., Beyond Belief, May 27
We take courses in first aid so that we will know what to do when the feces hit the impeller. As part of it, we practice bandaging, applying splints, stopping blood loss. Experience and common sense have shown that we need hands-on practice — albeit without the blood and guts — in order to have a clear picture of what to do in an emergency.
Even so, the first time we have to deal with a spurting artery, we wish with all our hearts that we had our instructor, or maybe a trauma surgeon, there to lend a hand. Nonetheless, we use our training and what little experience we have to get the job done to the best of our ability. We don’t have to have an MD degree to do first aid. Surgery to repair the ruptured artery? That’s another matter.
All of the above is just good sense, but for some reason, many of us seem to believe that we can recover from the life-threatening illness of addiction just by reading the book (probably lots of books) instead of actually doing the work. Are we doctors? Nooooo… Are we psychologists? Well, some of us, but it doesn’t seem to help… Are we philosophers? Maybe we think so…
Perhaps we are all of the above, but unless we buckle down and do the work, we’re not going to do ourselves much good. All the books, all the theory, all the armchair expertise in the world doesn’t mean crap when it comes to our own recovery. Trust me on this; I learned the hard way.
Millions of people have worked the steps, some got sober and stayed that way. We don’t know why the others didn’t and that’s not our problem. Our problem is that we’re addicts, and we’re powerless over our compulsion to act out. The experience of the millions who did stay sober has been that the program works, but only if we work it.
How many self-help books have we got on our bedside bookshelf? How many have we read? How many did we understand? How hard did we work to put the theories into practice? How’s our recovery doing–happy, joyous and free yet?
Maybe it’s time to settle on one book, accept some help, and do the work.
One of our biggest problems as addicts is that we pursue solutions that we like, rather than those we need.
Many times the best solutions to problems do not produce the outcomes that we want. Members who have been around the fellowships for awhile have seen it again and again: newcomers (and sometimes those not so new) who flail around and exhaust themselves trying to fight what more experienced folks see as inevitable: the need to make changes that we don’t like.
Usually, no one is saying that they need to be made all at once or right away. In fact, program wisdom indicates quite the opposite. In most cases not involving situations dire and immediate, we recommend that any changes be made slowly, with careful consideration of all factors. Since we’re all addicts and codependents, however, we tend to want to sweep things under the rug and ignore them indefinitely, or take the broom and beat them into submission. In either case, we want what we want and we want it now, and we want it the way we want it.* Continue reading
Do I treat my mistakes as failures, or as opportunities to learn and become more skillful?
How many times in our addiction, and perhaps in recovery as well, have we failed to give those close to us the attention they need in order for the relationship to thrive and grow?
As a young man I had a friend whose husband, a philanderer and sexual predator, took her totally for granted. He would have women (usually much younger women) in for the evening in his “study,” attached to the house. Sometimes he would invite them for dinner in the house. I’m ashamed to say that, at the time, I saw nothing wrong with that. In addition to his infidelity, he was often much less than polite to his wife. In fairness, she was known to throw a fit or two herself — with good reason.
One evening, having had a couple of drinks, I asked her why she put up with it. She said to me, “I’d rather be kicked than ignored.” Although I was guilty of my own transgressions for many years thereafter, I never forgot those words. It wasn’t until after a lot of years in recovery that I really got it. I realize now that she acted out in various ways just to get his attention. As far as she was concerned, that was better than putting up with the indifference.
Being ignored by people whose attention we need destroys self-worth, whether they are partners, parents, teachers, schoolmates, or even superiors at work. Some of us react with rage, some tell ourselves it doesn’t matter, and some of us “act in,” retreating into a shell where we try to ignore our own needs. Some of us try to “belong” by becoming essential to other twisted souls. Some of us, especially children, manage to become essentially invisible. Others of us will do almost anything to get attention, even if it means punishment.
We are social animals, and we desperately need social contact, approval and affection from the important people in our lives. It is impossible to have a healthy emotional life without it. Those of us who imagine that we can do so are in deep denial, and almost certainly addicted to chemicals, “feel good” behavior or some other form of escapism — anything to try to fill the emptiness.
It never works.
We owe our loved ones (and they owe us) attention, good regard, and the knowledge that they are cherished for themselves — not their beauty, their accomplishments, their grades, their brains, but simply because they are who they are. When we deprive them of unconditional love, they wither and die. Sometimes that death can take a very long time, as in the case of my friend. Sometimes it doesn’t take very long at all.
R.I.P., Birdie. You deserved better than you got.
Indifference, not hate, is the opposite of love.