Our brains evolved (or were designed, if you must) to be judgmental, to assess situations at a glance and classify them as good or bad, dangerous or advantageous — just as you are doing with regard to the first part of this sentence. The ability to do this quickly and form opinions rapidly helped keep our ancestors alive in an uncertain world and assisted them in evaluating the relatively simple issues of their lives and the lives of those around them. They passed these abilities on to us. These inherent skills serve us well in many instances, but we have to be careful. Life is more complicated now.
There’s an old saying something like, “Just because you’re paranoid, it doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you.” That’s certainly inarguable logic, but most of the time it fails to lead to a valid conclusion. Most people don’t care about us one way or the other. Those who do care usually wish us well, as long as we’re not standing in the way of their comfort somehow. The fact is, we’re not powerful enough — most of us, anyway — to make ripples in the lives of those who aren’t pretty close around us.
Assuming that we’re not annoying other folks enough to make them want to take time to mess us up, things continually going wrong in our lives usually mean that we aren’t properly interpreting the lessons that life is trying to teach us. There are a lot of reasons for that, but most often they boil down to our not wanting to hear what the teacher is saying. After all, it’s not only easier but far more comforting to attribute our misfortunes to bad luck or to someone’s ill-will or mistakes, rather than to look honestly at the part we had in them.
Everything that happens in our lives is a lesson. Good, bad, or indifferent, there is always something to be learned. The big question is not “Why Me?” but rather, “How can I honestly interpret this lesson and learn from it?”
I can’t count the times I’ve heard shares in various fellowships like this: “I just had one beer, but I figured since I’d slipped anyway I might as well have another.” (Substitute pertinent acting out for “beer”.)
All too often, these sorts of remarks are heard from folks who were “out there” for much longer than just an evening or a couple of days, most often for months or years, and they all say it got worse than before. Because the next morning Continue reading
I got married the first time because it was expected that I would when I reached a certain age. It was a lousy match, and ended in divorce — for good reasons. (I got two wonderful kids from that marriage and I don’t regret it at all, but it wasn’t exactly my choice — more a matter of the path of least resistance.) Continue reading
[I’ve been more-or-less absent from the blog for several months due to surgery in the family, among other things. All’s well there, and with any luck I’ll be back to my regular lackadaisical posting. Thanks for your patience.]
When we begin to “get on with our lives,” or “make up for lost time,” or study to become an addiction guru — whatever — we can easily drift away from our program. We feel good, our finances are becoming something like organized, and we’re generally busy and entertained by the stuff of our lives. We begin to think that we can handle it all.
The idea that we can somehow cure a chronic disease can be problematic and sometimes tragic. People feel better so they stop taking the medications that got them that way. We addicts stop taking care of ourselves in the ways that got us moving forward. We get stressed, lose focus on what’s really important, and begin the slide toward relapse.
When that happens (assuming that we survive) many of us are ashamed to go to a meeting and admit that we messed up — the worst possible decision we can make. We need to hit the brakes and return to the basics that brought our success to begin with, getting back on the path to sobriety with meetings, phone calls, fellowship, sponsor, Steps, meditation, daily inventory and so forth. Relapse is part of addiction, and everyone at the meeting has been there or come terrifyingly close. All we’re really doing is admitting to ourselves and other people that we’re no better than any other “bozo on the bus.”
Why did we forget where we came from? It’s because we are wired to forget pain. We automatically push such memories aside, and that’s why we are able to get back on the horse, or deliver a second child, or drag ourselves up and dive back into the scrum on the field of life. But those of us who made a habit of addictively suppressing pain in whatever way possible are even more likely to do it, and that’s why our “built-in forgetter” makes us so prone to backsliding.
Our programs are there to help us stay sane by keeping us in good spiritual, physical and emotional health. We put them on the back burner at our peril.
Happy birthday, 12 Steps, and thank you for giving me back my life!
First of all, I’d like to apologize for the two-week hiatus from What…Me Sober?. Moving from a big 2/2 apartment where you’ve lived for 25 years to a much smaller 1/1 is a complicated project, fraught with turmoil. But that’s a story for another day, perhaps.
The beauty and joy of life dwell within differences.
~ Answers in the Heart, April 1
Who wants to watch the same sunset every evening? Who wants to converse only with people who parrot our own thoughts and opinions?
Why do I imagine that I need opinions to begin with, or that they bear more validity than other people’s? Is it because I am afraid? Of what? Does being “wrong” threaten who I am?
And where did I get those opinions, anyway? Are they mine, or did I inherit them from others through lazy thinking — or due to rebellion?
What makes me so sure that I’m right?