“I’d rather be kicked than ignored.”

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 areignored - Edited 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.

Is My Ego Getting In My Way?

Are we in recovery, or just abstinent? Are we just hanging around the edges talking the talk, but not walking the walk?

[Believe me — I’ve done all this stuff at one time or another!]

Is our program not working for us? Are we in recovery, or just abstinent? Are we just hanging around the edges talking the talk, but not walking the walk?

Are we hiding behind our intellect, thinking that we know more about how to “fix” ourselves than all those “uneducated” people in the rooms? Continue reading “Is My Ego Getting In My Way?”

Holiday Feelings

Holidays can be rough on people in recovery, especially those of us who haven’t yet been able to develop normal relationships with our families of origin and/or old friends. If we don’t handle them carefully, they can be a real test of our sobriety. That’s especially true if we’re alone. Then self-care and attention to our well being become especially critical.
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Post-acute Withdrawal–Why The Quick Fixes Don’t Work

One of the biggest differences between addiction and sobriety is that truly sober people are able to accept pleasure’s natural ebb and flow.

As much as we might like to have it otherwise, healthy pleasure isn’t constant. Pleasure is the body’s way of rewarding us for doing things that benefit survival of our offspring and ourselves. When pleasure becomes the norm, rather than the reward, the system breaks down. We begin to pursue pleasure for its own sake, to the neglect of nature’s original intentions. Continue reading “Post-acute Withdrawal–Why The Quick Fixes Don’t Work”

It works, IF….

I just celebrated my 28th year sober from alcohol and drugs.  I write that only to indicate that I know something about this thing we call “recovery”, even if I haven’t done it perfectly.

Over the years I’ve heard and read many times that AA and the other 12-step programs don’t really work very well; that they are effective for only a relatively small percentage of people; that the statistics show — blah, blah, blah.  Putting aside the fact that since those programs don’t keep statistics (So from whence came that so-called data?), I’d have to say that I agree with them, but only with a major qualification. Continue reading “It works, IF….”

Addiction is a disease, and we should treat it like one

Ted Talk: Addiction is a disease and we should treat it like one.