A close friend of mine made a mess of himself last night, having gone to a party and having too much to drink. He puked all over the bed and his place stank terribly in the morning when I came to see him. He was very embarrassed talking about this with me, especially since he was trying to get himself in shape for a while, leaving booze behind for good.
He was looking at me like I was going to whip him with a belt. That was strange. He is an intelligent person who just can’t control his drinking. What am I going to tell him? That he should be sorry and ashamed? He already is. What do I tell him that won’t make him feel worse? What do I say if I want to help?
The first thing I said was that I wasn’t disappointed in him, even if he was. That I wasn’t frustrated, even if he was. I said that this perhaps was a great lesson to learn, a proof he just cannot handle alcohol, period. Secondly, I wanted to hear what he had to say about what’s happened. How did he feel? How did he see it? From there we went farther into lack of control and power, and from there to the possible ways of trying something different to get him off booze.
As we were talking, I was thinking of how parents talk to their kids who in their adolescence turn to drugs and alcohol. Perhaps parents know how to fix things, they have a “good idea” of what’s the right thing to do, perhaps heard about it on TV, or read in a paper, or perhaps they even learned it from personal experience. Having these seemingly strong arguments parents force their wisdom on kids and they don’t realize that it can be perceived as an attack by a kid who is awfully confused and embarrassed. As the result communication is severed and relationship is on the brink of being flushed down the toilet. All because parents want to fix the kids.
Tell you what, you can’t fix anyone but yourself. Everybody is different. Everybody got their own mental way of getting from point A to point Z, have different understanding of reality, spirituality, sexuality, social skills or lack thereof. Thus what is good for one person is lethal for another. Sending a kid to a counsellor, to the army, art school, to grandma for the whole summer may help, but if you start with that, pointing a finger at them, instead of talking about how they feel, all will most likely fail terribly.
The communication is a vital part of substance abuse recovery, but we have to know well what we say, and especially how we say it. We may have the most positive and caring motives, but we can do more bad than good if we don’t watch how we dress our message and how we vocalize it.
We should also pay attention to remembering of being self-reflective. Did I never make mistakes? Have I never made a mess out of myself? How would I feel if I was talked to the way I am talking to another person? I may have all reasons to be angry at them, but the person I am talking to is hurt by his own actions, and my bringing righteous confrontation has a potential of ruining everything. Ancient golden rule “treat others the way you want to be treated” is still at play. Talk to others in a respectful, patient way. Let them know you want to understand them to help them better. That way they are less likely to feel like their backs are against the wall while everyone is trying to have a piece of them.
Alcoholism and other substance abuse problems are not easy to understand. These are stigmatized. Nobody wants to be an alcoholic or be called one. So we deny that we deserve wearing these tags and with that we eliminate the opportunity of being helped, of looking into the problem to solve it. If I didn’t develop a trusting relationship with my friend, then I wouldn’t see what is going through his mind as he wants to drink and then gets blasted. If I didn’t make him feel important and respected, I’d lose a friend forever and have myself to blame.
[the picture was copied from 'ere. thank you!]
It’s been since 1997 that I’ve been listening to a band called Dream Theater. I liked several of their early albums but after I checked out Falling into Infinity which was the last album they released by that time I moved to another country, started listening to a lot more aggressive angrier music and forgot about this band. I’ve re-discovered them in 2007 and listened to a couple albums and then forgot about them again somehow. This year I’ve purchased several of their early albums and started listening again. I listen to a lot of music at home, but also in the gym and while I walk. It takes me about 25 minutes to walk to work so I manage to listen to quite some music.
Getting back into Dream Theater was cool and I started to listen to these CDs on the way to work. I noticed that I was getting more patient and focus and relaxed getting to work while I was listening to DT, as opposed to most of the time when I listened to, say, Nile or Enslaved on the walk some other days. With songs about loss, achievement, frustration, addiction, hope, rebellion, and love, I was getting a bit more prepared to face people I work with and for. Having noticed that, I decided to make it a point and start listening to DT each day I go to work. I had about five in my collection by then and so I went with it. By the time I got to the third one, Awake, I decided to go and see how many records the band did by that time and it turned out they has 13 records to that date! So starting July I had quite a bit of an accomplishment waiting for me.
The thing is Dream Theater performs what I’d call progressive hard rock, however many call them progressive metal band. I guess it is a matter of perspective. I won’t argue. The main point is they bring several styles to their music, and being the fans of Rush, Deep Purple, Genesis, Pink Floyd, and ELP, they managed to create their own sound. So definitely being progressive rock band, Dream Theater make music that is multi-layered and has a lot to pay attention to. So I’d say it would take me at least three times to listen to any of their album before I make an opinion about the songs and the album. So there was A LOT of listening to do.
Today is a special day. I’ve listened to the 12th album, Dramatic Turn of Events and watched Live in Luna Park DVD which had all of the Dramatic songs on it, besides the other accomplishments of the band in the previous 25 or so years. There is still one album to listen to, but I am very close. Watching Luna Park, along with Live in Budokan DVD, and listening to the songs from CDs back and forth was a great fun and I think it made me a bit more patient and relaxed in the last couple months.
Besides just writing fun and quite complicated at times music, the band writes really good lyrics. As I wrote earlier the songs are about life and situations people find themselves in. Among those ones the original drummer and one of the main composers of the band, Mike Portnoy, wrote about addiction. Having issues with alcoholism himself, he decided to write a saga about recovery from drinking through the wisdom of the Twelve Steps which he divided into several parts and put one track of the saga on each of the albums from 2002 to 2009, thus having five albums containing the message of recovery. I have found some thoughts and facts on that undertaking of Mr. Portnoy, as well as “the Twelve Step suite” tracks put together in one album, which was never done by Dream Theater or Portnoy (however he always wanted to do it), and instead was done by a dedicated fan.
Here is the saga. I hope you enjoy it too and it will make you feel more patient and get a slightly different perspective on things around you, as I tend to, thanks to this band and people around me.
[the picture was copied from 'ere and twisted by me. thank you!]
I was trying to run away. I was fighting. I was kicking and screaming and biting and clawing. They were trying calm me down and say that it was OK, but hell, I wouldn’t listen. It was too complicated. I couldn’t stop looking around and everything seemed menacing. They had to give me some sedative. Then they checked me all over. Then they came to me and spoke:
“We’ve examined your case very carefully. At the end of our investigation we have some information for you.
Facts first: we found that you are human. That means you are going to react to life in a similar way that other creatures that walk around you on two legs: you will experience sadness, joy, hate, love, frustration, loss, new beginnings, hope, desire for destruction and love. In other words you are not alone – there is plenty of other who deal with this state as well, and the overall majority cope with it quite well. You are going to feel vulnerable, exposed, broken, and disillusioned, just as much as you will feel strengthen, relieved, and cared for.
The bad news is being human cannot be cured. There is nothing we can do.
The good news is you may very well enjoy this state, this journey, and find the development making your existence worthwhile.
We prescribe the following medications to support you on in the immediate future:
“no worrying,” “acceptance,” “letting go,” and “asking for help.” These will keep you connected and not let you fall between the cracks of life that some call very hard. They are well tested, there are no side-effects Smile, eat well, work out, talk, read books, find new things, and keep walking forward.
[the front picture was copied from 'ere. thank you!]