Five years ago, almost to the minute when I’m writing this, I had a life-changing experience. It doesn’t matter what it was, but trust me, it was one of those moments that you never forget. Continue reading “Some Thoughts About Dealing With Crisis”
We unconsciously seek and evaluate information that supports our own ideas. This is called confirmation bias. For example, we tend to look for news from sources that lean in our direction politically. Thus, what we see and hear confirms our own belief system. We are (usually) either not exposed to opposing views that might give us a more balanced understanding of the issues, or we choose to discount them. It has been shown through dozens of studies that reason bows to belief in virtually all cases. This is most noticeably true in the cases of politics and religion, but confirmation biases exist in every area where a position and/or opinion needs support. This leads to a worldview that supports the idea of them and us. “They” are so messed up! “We,” on the other hand, are the souls of ethical behavior and correct thinking. Continue reading “Confirmation Bias”
We addicts and codependents play a lot of little mind tricks on ourselves to keep from owning our issues and feelings completely. We say things like:
My addict is down at the foot of the bed doing push ups, just waiting for me to get careless. [Reality: there’s no “my addict”; there’s just me. ]
My mind would kill me if it didn’t need the transportation. [Reality: this is getting a little closer, but it’s still personifying my issues as something outside the real me.]
I have some anger about that. [Reality: owning my anger, saying “I’m angry!” Either I am, or I’m not.]
My addict is/was telling me….
Ever said anything like that? If not, I bet you’ve heard it lots of times in meetings, and maybe even in group therapy. Those are examples of the mind games we play with ourselves. They sound cute, and we joke that we don’t really mean them literally. But words are important. Continue reading “Own It!”
“Abstinence is necessary for us not just because of our [physical addictions] but because only when we begin experiencing life without resorting to quick fixes are we able to grow psychologically and spiritually.”
~ Phillip Z., A Skeptic’s Guide To The 12 Steps
For sex, love and fantasy addicts, slips are often the rule for months–even years–before a person ends up with solid sobriety. People usually get to the “S” programs via one of two paths: a vague feeling that maybe they need to change their behavior, or a relatively catastrophic event that exposes them to extreme pressure from spouses, family, often friends, and that can affect their employment and even lead to severe legal issues.
How do you think your “defects of character” have affected your relationship choices? In what ways? Can you take a look at why?
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.