Tag Archives: Stress

Human Being, or Human Doing?

by Bill

In addiction we were always busy.   We were acting out,  recovering from acting out,  waiting for the next chance to use,  preparing to act out,  using,  etc.


Life was hectic as we tried to keep all the balls in the air.   Then we’d drop them and things got even worse as we tried to salvage the situation while at the same time protecting our addictions.    Some of us became so accustomed to this stressful cycle that we became chaos junkies,  unable to relax and even notice the roses – –  let alone smell them.  If we were codependents, the pressure was just as great or greater,  since our addicts were our drugs,  and they weren’t even fun! .

For people with backgrounds like that,  recovery can be boring.   Our lives slow down,  and unaccustomed to having time on our hands,  we become uneasy.   We get into the “making up for lost time”  mode,  trying to get our lives back to “normal”  when we haven’t yet even begun to learn the skills we need in order to do so.  We’re living the same life,  just without our drug.  We’re like the codependent cowboy,  who jumped on his horse and rode off in all directions.

This is not getting over the madness!   It’s not what recovery is about.   We need to learn to slow down; to consciously embrace our down time and use it to learn how to relax.   The Serenity Prayer is a big help,  as are readings,  Journaling and meditation.  Perhaps the biggest factor is giving ourselves permission to take things a little bit slow,  a little bit easy.

Connecting with people in the program and having fun with them is an invaluable tool,  as well.  If we get phone numbers (and use them),  go for coffee after meetings, and get to know our fellows in recovery,  it won’t take long before we’re invited to take part in their lives.   These are people who have already learned how to slow down and have fun.   We can let them be our guides on this new journey.

And we can become humans being,  not just humans doing.

IU study of new cognitive treatments for alcoholism receives $2.3 million NIH grant: IUB Newsroom: Indiana University

The study…has important implications for the problem of relapse in alcoholism, which often occurs in times of stress, and can reduce working memory capacity even further. Average people generally make riskier and more impulsive decisions when their working memory is compromised as a result of stress, information overload, high or low emotional states, or other factors, Finn said.


Speed — A Rumination

Back in the days before affordable air travel, Interstate highways and cheap long-distance communication, life moved at a more leisurely pace. Business was conducted locally. Even businessmen didn’t take a long-distance phone call lightly when service cost a couple of dollars a minute (and gold was pegged at $35.00 an ounce). Quick communication was by telegraph or cable — same thing, but trans-oceanic — that allowed you to send a few words, relatively quickly, for a good deal less money than a call.

You went down to the telegraph office, often at the local train depot because the telegraph lines tended to follow railroad tracks. You wrote out your message and gave it to the “operator,” who sent it via a dot-and-dash code system in a series of clicks and silences. At the other end, an operator copied the message, put it in an envelope, and gave it to a messenger boy who rushed it to the recipient. He would wait there for an answer, if any. You tipped him a dime made of real silver.

Travel was less common, because most of the important people in one’s life lived in the neighborhood, or the next town.Families had roots, and tended to remain in the same homes for generations — often with three or four generations living together under the same roof or in the same apartment building. A vacation was an excursion “out of town” to a local attraction, the shore, the lake, etc., where families again tended to gather together and stay in the same place, year after year. Relationships flourished, face to face. People had a sense of place, and knew their place in it.

Life was predictable, save the occasional war, and people pretty much knew what was going to become of their lives from the git-go. There was little rush. People took their time.

Nowadays we grasp at speed: faster Internet, faster processors, faster transportation, multi-tasking. We grouse when we have to wait three hours at the airport to take a three-hour trip that would previously have meant a week’s driving, and months of travel not too long before that. We forget that the automobile has existed for barely a century, and a system of good highways for about 60 years, that even travel by plane was a multi-day affair for a long time, involving slow aircraft, stops for refueling, and service to only a few destinations. Most of these changes came in my lifetime.

Speed came to humans gradually, and only in the past 200 years has it meant much in terms of human affairs.  Now it seems to be an obsession.  Ask anyone of my generation, however, and they will tell you that as we get older we realize that speed is not always the boon we thought it was. Yes, the jets allow us to visit the grandkids and other relatives quickly, easily and pretty cheaply.  (We have to, now, because they don’t live in the ‘hood any more.)  But having spent most of our lives in pursuit of faster, more efficient ways to live life, we look back and begin to appreciate that the best times were when we weren’t rushed, when we weren’t racing  headlong into the next project or fun experience, but had the time to enjoy where we were, who we were with — even if it was only ourselves — and what we were doing, without worries about the next thing on the day’s schedule.

I think humans evolved to live at a much slower speed, and are a long way from adjusting to today’s rushed world in a healthy way. The happiest people I know are those who take time to stop and smell the roses, watch the birds, savor the breeze, the sunshine, even the chill of winter. I see a lot of superficially happy people who flit from place to place, restaurant to bar, fashionable resort to high-pressure job, who I believe have no real idea of what true relaxation might feel like. To them, perhaps, it would mean boredom until they got the hang of slowing down. But I think that they, we, much of the world would run more smoothly if we stopped hitting the bumps and potholes of life at such a high speed

Sobriety Got Me Though One Heck Of A Week

Occasionally in life, even in sobriety, we have periods that just plain suck. As a sponsor of mine was fond of saying, “In sobriety, life didn’t get better right away but it got real clear!” The difference is, in sobriety we’re able to feel our pain, work our way through it, and come out the other side in a healthy way, instead of stuffing all those feelings and having to deal with them later when they start squishing through the cracks in our mental armor.

One of my oldest friends passed away last Friday….

Read more at Bill W’s Recovery Blog