Why do I have to identify myself as an alcoholic? A Drug Addict? A Codependent?
Some people think it's stupid. My name is ________and I am a food addict. Some people are of the belief that identifying yourself as an addict will perpetuate the problem. The problem lies in that if we don't convince our unconscious mind that we are one, we will forever see the problem as existing outside of ourselves.
One of the fine doctors that took part in the writing of the blue AA book was none other than Carl Jung. Jung was one of Freud's students who studied the subconscious/unconscious/collective unconscious. He was the one who said "Until you make the unconscious conscious it will control your life and you will call it fate." By saying that we are addicts, it is bringing our repressed ideas of self into perspective. Now our ego has become aware of who we are and what is actually taking place. When we say we are addicts, we are becoming aware that we have a problem. We are not convincing ourselves, we are just starting to notice. It's the same with repressed memories. When you think about it, it's quite ingenious these reasons why we identify ourselves with our disease.
This is called step one: admitting to ourselves that we were alcoholics and that our lives had become unmanageable. You can't skip this step. It is the most important one if you want to change your life.
When I first got sober I was afraid of change. In my mind I had worked hard to become the person I was for good or bad. I was afraid my sense of humor would run dry or that I would become an intolerant bitch that suddenly shames everyone for drinking. I was afraid I would become a person that blogs about how not to drink exactly like I'm doing right now. Let's admit it...it's a little annoying. But I do find it therapeutic to document this journey. I can look through my post and say "Ohhhhh yeahhhhh, I do not want to go through THAT stage again!"
Anyway, I was told by a friend that I had changed and the way she said it totally validated me fears: I'm not liked or cool anymore. It sat with me for awhile thinking there is something wrong with me now and it shows. Then the reality hit that she was right. The not drinking me doesn't have a lot in common with the drinking me anymore.
And that is okay.
Many times the only people ruined by change are the ones that would like to keep you as a cog in their well-oiled machine. You changing has diminished their dynamic. If you used to be enabling, but now you have boundaries...people around you will be uncomfortable. They would like to continue walking all over you. They would like you to continue using you for money, time and all else.
If you used to drink and be crazy and fun, your friends might disperse when you focus your attention on improving your life. It maybe true that you aren't as fun (but you will be crazy, I promise). When you quit drugs and drinking you shift your focus. The purpose of your life is not centered around just fun any more. Maybe you want to be a better person or parent. You want to do something with your life. You don't want to deal with the nagging obsession that was the central point of everything you do. That doesn't mean that you are not fun or will not have fun again, it means that right now you are not all that thing that the people you've associated see you as.
You've changed! When you hear this statement instead of reacting defensively like it's a bad thing...simply say "Thank you so much! I really appreciate that!" You've metamorphasized into a butterfly and you're not in a dark caccoon anymore.
I know about "The Secret" via Oprah. I didn't read "The Secret", I read "The Celestine" prophecy which is secretively "The Secret". Both of these books talk about the unseen laws of the universe like karma, manifestation and the law of economics (we get back what we put in). Somehow the atom is an accepted theory, but the law of economics is a very hard concept for people to understand. We let things like perceived unfairness cloud our perception i.e. when bad things happen to good people we start to think there is no God, no fairness, no order. We expect our rewards to be relative to our offerings i.e. If I give to the poor, people will help me when I am struggling. The problem here is that we are assuming that we know what is best for us at all times without consideration of things that are outside of our contextual environment such as: how it will effect others around us, how it will shape our future, etc.
A good example is a meeting I was in recently. This older guy starts talking about how his house was broken into a year and a half ago. He called 911 and the woman asked if he had a gun. He did. She then proceeded to tell him that because the intruder was in his home, it would be fully legal for him to shoot them. This man was fairly new in recovery and really didn't want to do that. Instead he waited for the cops to arrive and apprehend the man.
So the guy telling the story goes on to talk about how at that time he was volunteering to hold meetings at the prison. Maybe you can see where this is going. He ends up running into the (then) meth addict that broke into his home. For the next year and a half he goes through the steps with this guy. This is where I come in. At the meeting I'm at he explains to us that he just gave the man his 18 month chip THAT day and the man's 2 children came up to him and thanked him for saving their dad, not only by not shooting him, but by giving him a second chance at life by being sober and a part of their lives again. It was really beautiful.
This is a perfect example of God/The Creator and/or Universal Law. A man does the"right thing" (gets sober in his life). He then gets "punished" or a perceived punishment (If I'm sober and doing the right thing then why are bad things happening to me?). He then goes on to save the man's life. If you don't follow that whole path to the end, the man is sober and volunteering and yet he's still getting fucked over. With our limited knowledge of the future, our lack of vision gets in the way and instead of being merciful (in this man's case) we pull the trigger.
There are laws that exist in the universe and whether you see it immediately or it happens down the road, you will get back what you put in. Hopefully, this story helped to illustrate that. I have many, many more supplemental stories just like this as evidence, but the literature is out there too. The thing I like about this story is that it that it also talks about the path of the man on meth and that sometimes it's necessary to go down before we go up.
Now that I'm out of the fizz fog of drinking an 18 pack a night I get to sit back and watch the newbies struggle their way through the first few months. To a degree people in recovery are very much the same. Most of us think we can trick ourselves into drinking only on weekends or only on Holidays. Most of us think we can set traps like having someone hold our cash on payday or having our roommate stash our booze where we can't find it. Just like our drinking life, our sober life is filled with methodologies and superstitions we've conjured to try and control an outcome. And most of us don't understand the idea of surrender or letting go because you can't control surrendering and control is all we really know.
Some of the interesting concepts I've seen newbies come in with are straight entertainment. The Sober Calculator was the first one that comes to mind. This "anonymous" kid thought that by downloading this app that counted his sober days down to the second would be enough to keep him in check. The one thing the calculator is missing is a tally of how many times a person uninstalls it and installs it to start all over again. Can you imagine if these app makers figured out the key to what some of the world's greatest physicians couldn't solve? First app to receive the Nobel Prize?
Another one I see often is the gung-ho quit everything at once guy. Not a good idea! I hate to promote smoking (it won't be the first time) but smoking can actually help you curb the monster cravings hitting you from every angle. This is where that saying "Take It Easy" comes in. Dieting, getting a good job, buying a house, quitting smoking...those things can all come later. Please don't try to run for senate the week you quit drinking.
This one I love: A girl I met at a meeting said that instead of going to AA she was just going to watch "Mom" reruns. I never saw her again. Sure, maybe she's walking around sober and getting a shot of "Mom" every night before she goes to bed, but sadly that theory seems like a bust. Straight up the reasons we go to meetings are like a) the get support b) to connect and c) to identify ourselves as alcoholics so that one day our unconscious mind might actually believe we have a problem cause we certainly don't feel like we do.
I like the addict mind, it's cunning, manipulative and irrational and those things make for REALLY great comedy. What are your insane tricks to getting sober? Best one gets a lollipop.
1) I only blacked out twice this week. If I black out one more time that's still less than half the week!
2) If I go to the bar I might get drunk enough to go home with someone and then I'd have somewhere to sleep tonight.
3) This is a perfect excuse for why I'm not going to show up for work tomorrow.
4) A drink will help me feel better about getting obliterated last night.
5) A drink will help me forget about getting obliterated for the last 3,650 days of my life.
6) Whiskey is my best friend (go ahead and say that out loud)
7) If I only have one drink then I'll feel better about having the next ten
8) Everyone else has failed me, but vodka always pulls through.
9) I'm a mess, poison will fix it!
10) Alcohol kills bacteria so if I drink vodka I'll never get sick
All I wanted growing up was an exciting life...I did not realize that asking for excitement invited crocodiles...and fiery darts...and evictions. I thought yay, fun, excitement. What I got was AAaaaaAAAaaaahhhhhh! excitement. When you get to the point in your life when you look at boredom as a luxury, it's because excitement gets old. It really does.
Drinking didn't get old for me, the side effects of it did though. Messes and clean ups, overreactions and apologies, fires (yes, actual fires), fights, looking for my purse every morning and finding it sometimes, cheating, not remembering cheating, concussions, lies, explanations, hangovers...yada....yada...yada... Drinking itself never got old-the taste, the ambiance, the connections and the laughs, but the side effects of being a black out drunk...fuck em.
Now at two years I'm not a saint, I'm nowhere near where I could be, should be, will be....I'm slowly making amends and making things right, but the one truth I hold is that I haven't had a drink. And the bad excitement I've had in sobriety (that seems to follow me no matter what)...my ex disappearing on meth, getting cancer, losing several friends to suicide and addiction seemed less catastrophic and more hopeful. For instance my ex checked himself into treatment a week ago and I was clear headed enough to be able to help instead of firing off like I might have a year ago. When I found out about the cancer, my kidneys and liver had a year and a half to cleanse themselves so the chemo didn't send me into failure. My rent was reasonable, my support systems were strong and my kids and I had everything we needed. When I found out one of my good friends had committed suicide, it was after I had a dream about him which led me to find out. I felt I had a clear communication with him, but would that have happened if I'd been drunk. Most likely not.
At two years our brains start to repair the damage and broken connections, that's what I have heard. I guess we'll see.
1. A king of a very important kingdom appoints you to the position of night watch. Your duty is to stay at the gate every waking hour and watch for a mythical sign to appear. It is important that you sleep during the day and remain alert during your shift. According to legend a comet to the east will flash red for exactly 2 seconds. If you miss the flash the kingdom is doomed, the people will die and earth will replenish itself. The comet can detect intoxication as well and will just pass you by if it senses you have been drinking at all.
2. You get hired to swallow swords on fire.
3. You have a bowel obstruction that is forcing you to shit out your mouth. Every time you try to take a drink, the shit and alcohol meet in your throat causing you to choke up liquid shit that quickly eats away at your esophagal lining.
4. You are over-hydrated (Very dangerous!)
5. Room Raiders, the MTV show, alerts you that they will be doing an expose by taking a black light to your bedroom sometime in the next year at a spontaneous time.
6. It's the future. Alcohol has been outlawed in the new prohibition amendment of 2042. There is to be an execution tomorrow for everyone who is extracted from their home that tests positive for even .01%. Everyone will be tested.
7. News flash: the DABC has been notified that terrorists have hijacked hundreds of thousands of cases of alcoholic beverages and dissolved trace amounts of Anthrax in them. Every drink is now a dangerous game of roulette.
8. It is discovered that for every drink that disappears, a monkey dies.
9. You are literally on fire.
10. Every time you drink you're an asshole.
I've never felt such a sense of security as when my life was
completely a P a r
Many concussions later
I'm having discussions like I'm an AA'er
cause I have problems AND my problems have cousins,
as to minimize this reprise,
I'm rhyming now AS I've been smoking weed
and drinking wine................
PART OF THIS DISEASE IS D
ASS O CIA T I O
That's why I can drink and smoke and claim I'm clean
In the meantime...
existing under a cloak of chemicals
and *takes a puff off a cigarette* "the perks I get from other folks"
I finally did it!
So why am I stoned AND why am I lit?!
ADDICTION IS THE HIGHEST FORM OF RHETORIC - It's like I'm listening to two arguments,
neither of which seem to reflect my own opinions
I SEE THEREFORE I AM NOT
I sat back and had a drink while the two of them fought.
I dug into the compartments of compartmentalization-
It wasn't until six drinks later
I had the dialogue going about how I'm better
See, having been clean three times last week
Seeps into my current,
see and I pat myself on the back
For having the self-control IT NEEDS
If you go to anonymous meetings, al-anon, gamblers, coda, over eaters, etc. you may find yourself getting called out with nothing to say. Here we've provided a template for you so if you're an addict (or just pretending to be one to get all the cool member benefits) you can fit right in. Just fill in the blanks with your name, DOC (drug of choice) and whatever else fits the context and you'll be well on your way to saying the serenity prayer and accepting the things you can't change (i.e. that you're not great at telling stories, talking in front of other people or following directions).
My name is ________________(you're name here) and I'm a grateful ______________(alcoholic, ragaholic, sexaholic, addict, bingeaholic <-see my last post AA greetings for AA meetings to get more ideas).
(Clear your throat)
I realized I had a problem when I saw my friends ___________ (insert normal activity) while I was __________(adverb)___________(verb ending in "ing") until the next morning when I would discover I lost all my ________(plural noun). This went on for ______(number) years where I would start ________(addict behavior) and gradually over time I lost my _______(noun), my ______(good personal attribute) and my _______(a virtue). Soon enough none of my ________(type of relationship) would have anything to do with me. That's when I discovered that I might have a problem. When I first came into these rooms I thought _______(an elaborate existential realization), but discovered it was just my addiction _______(verb ending in "ing".) I did what everyone ______(verb in past tense) me to do and _______(irregular verb) hold of the first ______(noun) I could. I did the ______(noun) and it kept me _______(irregular verb) long enough that my own will took over. I'm forever _______(verb ending in "ful") to _________(Meeting name) for ______(verb ending in "ing") me recover from the insidious use of ________(DOC) and for that I will take another 24.