First of all, I want to wish everyone the best possible new year,consistent with the effort that you’ve been willing to put into your recovery. I’d go with the overall “Happy New Year,” but that’s bogus: happiness, of whatever kind, is an inside job, and no magical incantation from me is going to make it anything else.
Now the kitchen.
Let’s imagine that we are cleaning the kitchen as part of our New Year’s Resolutions.
We do the dishes and put them away. We clean out the fridge and toss the containers with the green stuff growing on the top (along with the others that we don’t really dare to open). We sweep and mop the floor. We organize the cabinets and toss all the junk we’ve accumulated and will never use into the garbage with the rest of the detritus. We sterilize the cutting board, wipe down the counters, clean the stove and the oven, and store all the cleaning stuff beneath the sink.
We look at all we’ve done and pronounce it good.
Then we take the garbage, throw it in the broom closet, and slam the door. We lock it, because we don’t want anyone to see it.
Eventually we notice an unpleasant smell in the kitchen. It grows worse over time, and then we look over at the closet and we see all sorts of nasty stuff seeping out from under the door.
At that point, we either clean out the closet and remove the garbage to the dumpster, or we’ll have to abandon the kitchen and–pretty soon–the house as well.
All that work shot to shit, when all we had to do was finish the job as thoroughly as we began.
Addiction is all about secrets. By the same token, recovery is about letting sunshine and fresh air into the hidden corners of our souls. In addiction we build ourselves a little fantasy world, a totally imaginary place where we go to hide when we act out. Continue reading “As Sick As Our Secrets”
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?”