Category Archives: family

Sometimes I do this…

Some of you will remember George Carlin. For those who don’t, he was a stand-up comedian (one of the best) back in the days when we still hitched our chariots to dinosaurs. In one of my favorite Carlin gags, he would walk onstage, stand in front of his stool and do a funny little wiggle and jerk, saying,

Sometimes I do this…(pause)

…and then I wonder why!”

When I was still acting out in my various addictions, I just thought that was funny. Carlin, who passed away in 2008, had his experiences with some of the issues I struggled with. He was no stranger to the world of doing strange things and then wondering why. Now that I’m a bit more introspective, I can see how George’s shtick totally applied to me then – and how it still does now, from time to time.

I suspect all alcoholics and other addicts can relate. Often we do impulsive things and then wonder why – especially in early recovery, but (in my case) pretty often even “a few 24 hours” in. I tend toward verbal gaffes myself, being now of an age when free-fall parachuting and extreme banjo-picking aren’t really practical, but there have been times when the credit card was smoking a bit for what later proved to be questionable reasons. The phrase “It seemed like a good idea at the time” still applies more often than I’d like.

As for early sobriety, I clearly recall an endeavor when I blew a lot of money on a pyramid scheme that I never came close to recouping. I think there are still a couple of water filters around here someplace.

When we’re active in our addictions, especially the chemical variety, the parts of our brains that control our decision-making are suppressed. When we start getting sober, it takes them quite a while to come back to normal (if they ever were normal to begin with). Some of us never completely develop those internal controls, and continue to experience impulsive behavior. Let’s not even talk about substitute addictions and continued suppression of our control functions.

I need to remember that. I was “in recovery” for a long time, and then I dropped my hidden addiction and started getting truly sober about 23 years later on. My thinking was that of an addict for probably more than 60 years, because my dysfunction began early. I still get those “wonder why” moments occasionally, and they rarely enhance the quality of my life.

Maybe you can relate. Maybe we aren’t checking out our bright ideas with supports. Perhaps we’re (still) not pausing to think for a moment before we speak, especially when we’re angry or frightened. I’m not suggesting any cures for that except mindfulness, working our programs, and generally checking in with our sponsors, therapists, and other supports – maybe even our partners – to talk about our issues and get some other folks’ perspective.

I realized some years ago that I was nowhere near as sober as I thought I was, and sometimes the unskillful ways slip back in. I still need to be careful. Do you?

A Possible Topic For Meditation Or A Meeting

I was at a meeting on Saturday (online, of course). We had a discussion of the good things that have come from the pandemic. I’m not going to mention specific things that were brought up, because I don’t want to do your thinking for you. However, I challenge you — and perhaps your group — to consider the matter in some detail.

It’s easy to bitch, moan, and complain. “It’s not fair!”, “Someone should…”, “Why me?”, and similar laments are the default setting for us addicts and codependents, and stresses like we’re suffering these days — so alien to so-called normal behavior for most of us — can bring them out in abundance. One of our default behaviors is to automatically look for the worst scenario and then fixate on it. The pressures of confinement, especially close confinement with family and partners, money worries and the other things that plague most of us these days are guaranteed to challenge our sobriety and strain our sanity (in the sense spoken of in Step Two).

So let’s pull our minds out of the mud for a few minutes and really consider carefully the possible things we’ve gained or have the potential to gain from our current circumstances. I’ll bet if we actually stop and think about it mindfully, we’ll discover that things could certainly be worse and that some things may even be better.

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. Continue reading

Re-post, with some editing: Don’t Wait ‘Til No Fat Ladies Sing!

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Close to thirty years ago I checked into treatment for my alcoholism and addiction to other drugs. It was a terrific relief.

I’d known for a long time that I was an alcoholic. I was essentially unaware of AA and its purpose, or that there were effective treatments for addictive disease. I wasn’t entirely unaware, because I’d been dealing with drunks and addicts for years as a police officer. It had simply managed to escape me that AA and other programs were anything other than a place to dump problems that turned up back on the street later.

By the time my boss more-or-less forced me into treatment, I’d had most of the jackpots: divorce, foreclosures, evictions, loss of other people’s money as well as tons of my own, estrangement from relatives — all the fun things that we addicts collect along the way to perdition. My denial about my surface problems was pretty weak, and it didn’t take much for me to become accepting about treatment, then hopeful, and then enthusiastic. I ended up damned grateful to the Chief of Police and whoever advised him about how he should deal with his relatively high-ranking and increasingly visible problem.

So I got sober and became a credit to my mother, my school, my family, my country and all that good stuff. I worked in the recovery field. I talked recovery. I even became a bit of a recovery guru, writing about addiction on my own and for treatment facilities that needed a down-to-earth approach to some of their material. But to a great degree I was a fraud, and I didn’t even know it.

Continue reading