Being in recovery, taking recovering seriously, being involved, working at a rehab, – all these create a certain outlook on life. And carrying that outlook through the years certainly affects the connection to people. For me it rings very true.
Having quit smoking on my own for several years and having friends or loved ones who smoke is not easy. Talking to them about it must be laying bricks in the wall of “coming to reality of recovery” for them eventually, but it is a slow process. Having quit drinking for another number of years and having friends drinking, drinking hard, drinking harder with very little chance of full recovery is even more difficult to take.
I understand, however, that if I really love them and want them to be good and healthy, but also free, I must either let go or get out. Either love them as they are and accept them with their weaknesses, or bail. I’ve been working on realizing these ideas for years now.
But then there are also people who I don’t know, who are not substance addicts, and yet they are around me all the time. Careless drivers in particular. They don’t see where they turn. They don’t care if there is a pedestrian crossing, minding their own business and the rules of being on the street. Sometimes I feel we as pedestrians are ignored, our rights smashed.
Letting go of this frustration is harder because I feel threatened by their actions every day. It feels like disrespect and lack of responsibility guides these people, and I often feel hatred toward them more than I’d feel toward thieves or liars. Drinking and driving has a larger stigma created for years, so driving and texting hasn’t made its way into our minds at that degree yet. Nevertheless I find it impossible to let go of these frustrations. Quite on contrary, I feel like each time I face these feelings I could blow up in righteous rage.
Why is this rant in my addiction blog? Hmm, well, I see these people to be ensalved to the necessity of being in touch with something that promises to be the most important thing in their life (at least for the next five minutes). We seem to be caught up in a need of connecting all the time, even to people we never met. Texting and phoning is so important to us and we feel so righteous to execute that right that we don’t even see how we can hurt others by doing so. We can’t let go of trying to connect to others 24/7. Some time ago we wouldn’t even care about that. Nowadays it is the most important thing in the world. Are we scared of silence? Are we scared of feeling alone?
I get it. And I hate that. Because while you are connecting to your boyfriend after a hard day at work, I am in danger.
There are things I understand and I can let go of them. There are some things I can’t stand and don’t understand and I still can let go of them. I just have to remember that I can. Prayer and meditation are my only saviors in these situations, for I find no forces to simply accept these driving and texting nutcases as sick, lost sheep who don’t know what they do.So instead of blowing up, I take in a long breath and take a long one out. I keep on doing that until I know I am OK. I am still raging deep inside, but at least I don’t get myself in trouble for it.
Another week is coming. Another peak hour madness is around the corner. I need serenity more than anything.
I had to learn it the hard way I guess. It was a hard truth to take but after eight years of drinking and being happy of being drunk, I realized that booze wasn’t keeping me happy anymore.
It did once. My early years of drinking up to early 20s were surrounded with having to two or three 40 ounce light and dark beer bottles per night two or three times per week. I didn’t care about what was going around. Beer was my reality – first because I needed to cheer up and then because I had to have it or else.
But a couple of years before I quit for good I realized that after about an hour of drinking, be it beer or wine, I was not enjoying drinking anymore. I’d have a craving to just have a couple of glasses, and then the wonderful illusion of fun and good time would visit me. And after about an hour or so I had to continue, because even if the fun was gone, the thirst still wouldn’t die, no matter how much I drank.
To top that insane cycle of consuming loads and loads of alcohol, I wasn’t solving any of my problems with drinking. The progression of the pace of these issues I was having was slowing down and coming to a halt the minute I was pouring a drink down my throat and reaching the point of mild intoxication. I was drunk and happy, but the issues were not going anywhere. They were just sitting there and waiting. And when I was getting up in the morning sick, weak, and miserable, they were still there, waving their hands at me, welcoming me back to get on with my life, full of challenges.
The other day I ran into a friend, graduate of a recovery program. He relapsed back into drinking that day. His mother was dying, as he said, and he was upset to the point that he went out and came back with a cart full of beer. He turned his back on the experience and knowledge of recovery that he was supposed to be practicing daily. He walked away toward something that seemed to make most sense, I guess. Again, I’d like to specify that I guessed, because it doesn’t make sense to me anymore. How do you learn recovery and sobriety and re-learn about life, work with people in recovery, live among them and then piss on all that and go and endanger everything you have by pouring the poison to your life down your throat?
In the end of his escapade things didn’t improve. After ten beers and an illusion dance, he stopped. His problems didn’t go away. His mother didn’t get better. His sorrow didn’t heal. And plus to that he has flushed down the drain the stability of 14 months of sobriety. All for having a drink he didn’t need. All for believing it would somehow help. All for forgetting to do the right thing – to reach out to recovering alcoholics and addicts who lived by his side.
Booze doesn’t heal. It doesn’t help us, problem drinkers, and I am sure it doesn’t help the “social drinkers,” people who can handle their booze. Their intoxication is not as disastrous as ours, and having a couple of drinks is, perhaps, enough for them to settle down and relax and feel better about things. Nevertheless, intoxication is always just what it is – a hit of illusory joy. After the veil of euphoria is gone, reality sets in and we are back to our life the way it was prior to our drinking.
The only way we can heal the wounds and deal with our problems is by acting on them. We can talk, we can write, and these are some of the ways to actually fixing things. Drinking and doing drugs is not part of the solution.
[the front picture was copied from ‘ere. thank you!]
I see it every day. I ask myself: why are we to deal with this crap in our lives? I ask philosophical questions every day now. Is that a sign of getting too old? Anyway, the questions persist. And the answers are many. “Chaos” seems to make most sense. And yet the one that follows right after is “God’s plan.”
Nobody like suffering, but suffering persists. Loss is no fun, but we keep losing someone or something. Every day we get back to the same old grind. What is this freaking plan that includes pain, cancer, death of loves ones, humiliation, and confusion, alongside laughter, accomplishments, and serenity?
I’ll step aside a bit and say that of all theories on the nature of society that I studied in the college physiological one makes most sense to me. Everything is interconnected and put together for a reason. Just as we catch cold, feeling weak is the result of the whole of our body fighting the virus and employing the immune system, supporting which takes a lot of energy that we eventually lose, just the same we do require lawmakers and schools. Garbage workers are just as important as medical workers. And strangely, we appear to need crime and poverty as much as health services and organs of control. So far our society keeps all of this, to have so many others employed as well as educated, and being alert of the possible negative effects, looking for better skills to care for our children. Without realizing the ills of others we can’t get by in our own lives and stages of progress, leaning on appreciation for what we’ve got.
Our lives are important. But so is someone else’s. While our lives are evolving, so is someone else’s. We connect with them, which affects us and them, and that action passed on to others has an effect on someone else of whose existence we don’t even know. This is how the Plan works. But what for?
Say our loved ones die. They can perish from old age, or from cancer, or from a car crash, or from serial killer attack, or from some error we caused. In each of these cases that caused their death we are going to have a different response. These deaths are going to affect us differently. There will be shock and cries “why?”, screams for revenge, or there will be beating of our heads against the wall and growls “it is all my fault!” Each of these situations is going to have a certain effect on our lives that are to go on from then on.
So what we perceive as negative is there for a reason, because we learn from these painful and unpleasant situations to discover something about ourselves. And how is that a God’s plan? We learn about ourselves and others to be better to ourselves and others. If we believe that God wants us and others to be good, we have to believe that everything that we go through has a purpose, however vague that purpose may be.
And we need to remember that if we are here to make other people’s lives better, we have to take good care of ourselves. Stress, bad sleep, malnutrition, worry, anger, addiction, – all these won’t provide for a good caretaker of life goodness and recovery. Selflessness is fine, but self care is vital. Depend on God, but don’t be silly.
As people, we are interconnected in our society, just like the organs in our bodies. Same thing with everything that goes on in our minds. Some ideas come to us complete. Every once in a while I’d have a short story finished in a couple of hours. But on regular basis the thoughts I have for my stories are dispersed and it takes weeks to put them together and align them properly. Then again some ideas don’t even come for weeks. I have to toy with them, do my writing exercises and see what could work, and then find out most of them don’t. Why does that happen? These ideas are brought to me through my going through life. They are recollections of my experiences that I look at from different angles. They are formed from meditating at the conditions and consequences of my daily perseverance. They come with time because such is the plan of the universe and the work of my brain. They seem to have their own schedule of arrival and nature of appearance. They may seem disjointed, but only in my mind they find structure, sense, and connection to everything else.
Truly, God may be providing in ways that appear unreal or illusory, but eventually they are “there for a reason”, even though sometime we are not ready to see them and eagerly reject them as nonsense. That attitude may also be a part of the divine schedule. In good time we will learn better about these things. Such is life of a human being in this world, enveloped and sewn within the Plan of what we know as the power greater than ourselves if we choose to believe in it.
[front picture was copied from ‘ere and thank you!]
I think the easiest relationship I ever had was the one with alcohol. Granted, it eventually near ruined my life, almost drove me insane, and I had to seek serenity and change in recovery. But in itself the relationship with booze was the least complicated of all I ever had. It was always there for me to get incapacitated on. It was easy to drink, as long as I had the money and the place. So in a sense it was kind of like sex with a prostitute. This spirit somehow managed to get connected to my spirit, my soul, and I felt truly loved, but then the effect would wither, and the only way to re-ignite that passion was to feed it some more money and, eventually, more health.
Relationship with alcohol was the only connection I could have when I couldn’t or were not willing, or was too scared to connect with a real person. When I was sad, booze was there to make the negative emotions fade. When I was happy, I drank and was becoming ever more excited. And I almost always drank alone, so I’d be bragging about whatever I did or how I felt, and the spirit of alcohol (puns for punters!) always was there to listen.
Each time I ended up in a relationship with a human being, it was always demanded understanding, patience, care and letting go, and I wasn’t ready for that in most cases. Not only I was not mature enough for that, I was also spoiled by my relationship with alcohol in a sense that I seriously bought into the attitude of instant gratification. I knew what I wanted and I wanted it right then. There was no patience, tolerance, or forgiveness, or need to be forgiven. So when it came to relationships with a human being it was all for sex, sensuality, and laughter, not much talking and connecting. Being with my ex-, the last partner before I quit drinking for good, was great in the respect that all of these elements were present. We both had a high sex drive, so there was no problem there. However there was a problem after all. She was more mature and was looking forward to getting grounded and building a family soon, and I was nowhere near that. And we both were mad in our own ways, so in eleven months we spent together we broke up about ten times, usually for the same reasons: past unresolved issues and inability to listen and let go, coupled with insecurity and jealousy on her side, and alcoholism on mine. As well, hard work that was to be put into relationships was not for me.
Several months after that bond was broken I drank myself to the point I had to seek help. I missed my partner, I missed sex, the way it made me feel about myself and reality. Booze seemed to be the only comforter. Too much of that made me lose my job yet again, doubt my forces, losing hope, and I was getting more isolated.
When I came to AA and heard of the “no romantic relationships in the first year” rule, not only it made sense, I was also happy. I was so overwhelmed by how love relationships and sex made me feel, that I was ready to give it a break, hoping that the power of romance will let go of me. I felt like “screw love, screw relationships, to hell with people, and to hell with you! I need some serenity.” I was going to several Twelve Step meetings a week, working and studying a lot, and I listened to a lot of kick-up-your-ass angry music that drove me through the day. I’ve done the first year almost not thinking of drinking. Then I sort of looked around and figured that “to hell with people” part of my attitude had to change if I wanted to continue being sane. I started going to the same meetings more often and connect with the same people. The more I talked and shared, the more connection I felt. This was the strangest relationship of all – I didn’t really know these folks, but I felt like I was part of them, and it was not a false bond. It was something I haven’t felt for a very long time, if ever.
Desire for romance never went away, I was just good at suppressing it. I guess in the end the one year alarm clock went off and I knew it was spring again and I hated it. But when after a long time of failing to establish some connection with the opposite sex I finally met a woman I could relate to, I was ready. By that I mean that I’ve learned to listen. I learned respect for another person, as well as some tolerance and patience. I was still not great at accepting people the way they were and living life on its terms, but I was on the way to get there.
After being with my girlfriend for over half a decade now, I must say the relationship is definitely a hard work and it demands a lot of forces, mostly mental, like re-evaluation and adapting, but the fruits are worth working for. It is a true understanding and support that is there to stay, unlike my phony connection with alcohol that was there today, gone tomorrow. No matter how much it seemed to cheer me up and inspire me, alcohol was a relationship of a destructive force, always working its way toward my degradation. I used to love the fact how it made me feel most of the time, and how it distorted reality, making me feel I was so much more special than others, the misunderstood and unnoticed genius. Yet all it did in the end was mess up my mind with twisted values and helped me get isolated from almost everything and everyone.
At the same time, human factor is extremely important for me these days. Even though there are days I don’t want to get together with anyone, have no desire to talk or listen, still, on the major scale I am a social person and must not betray this connection which was quite a labour to establish.
[front picture was copied from ‘ere. thanks!]
I know this one guy who has lost a family member to a violent crime. He is grieving, and it’s not easy for him. He has a tendency to isolate though. So I wonder for how long he’s going to be away from the sunlight.
Human mind is a weird thing. It is brilliant, considering all the amazing ideas that it gives birth to and processes. It also spawns terrors that haunt us at night and day. Temptations, obsessions, fears, visions none else can see, voices others cannot hear or even suspect that they ring in our heads all the time.
Our mind is a place where from where our dreams come, and at the same time it is a trap from which it is hard to escape. We can be caught up in the ideas that make sense for us to turn to, like righteous anger toward injustice, fear of flying or spiders, insecurities about relationships and change of a career. Subsequently we dive into a certain range of waters from where it’s near impossible to get out. And the worst (and spectacular) thing is we don’t want to leave. We prefer to dwell there, in guilt, resentment, and grief. It is so dark, grim, and lonely down in the mud of insecurity and fury, that there is certain comfort in all of it. We know we need to deal with it, but we don’t let go of the slimy skinny hand of misery.
Why? Perhaps, just like some folks enjoy savouring pain in their S&M games, there is some pleasure in feeling bad. Sounds strange, doesn’t it? Usually people prefer to feel happy. Some can’t even allow an idea of hurt. They keep getting shiny things, worshipping bright colors, follow trends that are advertised to promote happiness. Then others, perhaps more stable, try to establish happiness through hard work of building relationships, looking after a garden, raising kids, and painting. They create more of something they believe would make the world a better place and these thoughts and beliefs warm them through life. They get happiness from that. Then there are folks that feel content in hurting others. Their self-esteem and self-worth are extremely low, so they try to satisfy themselves by making others suffer.
And then there are these creatures who crawl into a shadowy stinky garbage hole and submit to feeling crappy. Some of them don’t understand why these misfortunes keep banging on their doors. They can’t take the injustice of the universe and they keep the reality at bay, yet they aren’t dealing with it, so the pain doesn’t go away either.
There is, however, another breed of the shadow crawlers. They know that what has happened to them happens to others. They heard it before that pain and loss are as natural as joy and success. They know approximately what they deal with. So they accept it when the darker corners of existence reach out to them, thus justifying their isolation and inaction.
Justifying? Yes. If you’ve lost a family member to cancer, you are expected to feel terrible. Society understands. Friends, loved ones, and employers presume you need space to grieve in, so they give you one. And with all that support you feel you deserve the provided time off. You even feel righteous about having some peace of mind, time to cry. And it’s true. You do require it to catch up with your mind absorbing the fact of loss, seeing how your systems of beliefs and attitudes perceive the new problem in your life. Then, during the grieving process, you will come to a certain resolution and come back to life. Hopefully.
However after being through or perhaps still in the process of facing loss and letting go of the pain we can get side tracked and take a wrong path. Or not even a path, but a swamp to fall into and stay there. Leaving that space is hard. It is so cosy down there, realizing that you know and others know you deserve this space and time of dealing with whatever happened to you. Wicked love for nurturing misery is so irrational, yet we continue dwelling in it, because it’s easier to swim in it than to make the change and face the new stage of our life. We need to build that stage, we need to make a step forward, and quite often even that seems to be too much work. We keep telling ourselves that everyone will understand if we take some more time to cry a bit longer, to heal our soul wounds, to let go of these chains of misery while in reality we let them bind us more if we keep holding on to them.
And the bad news is that these knowledgeable shadow crawlers – they are not a separate breed. They are all. They are us. We all come into those mind territories of relishing the distress, yet some of use choose to move on, and some choose to stay. Chances are they may stay in those Elysian Fields of the mourning minds forever.
The good news? Some make it out of the land of tears, not completely unscathed, but they make it, and as one possessor of a brilliant mind that later on went cuckoo said, “what doesn’t kill you, makes you strong” – you learn from the pain that almost completely swallowed you and you get better, smarter, skilled enough not to fall into that trap again. If we know how our brain can dance at times and we get prepared (but not paranoid), then we are more prone to keep away from that sweet temptation to dive into the mind swamp and swim in the socially accepted need for grieving that can hatch into a non-forgiving attitude of justified suffering in which we’d gladly wallow until we are sucked dry by the dark corners of our own mind.
Yes, it is easy to say “think positive thoughts” and “don’t give in”, and some characters will always hold on to yelling “you have no idea how I feel” and “you haven’t been there.” Oh yes, I have. I’ve been there, and I can still see it swimming around me at times. That shit is illusory, but the danger of falling into it and staying in there is real. That’s why I keep writing about it. To remind myself (and perhaps others) of it.
It is easier to fall in than climb out. If you fell in and it was hard to climb, but you made, don’t do it again, hey? Don’t isolate. It can bury you. Don’t give in to the dark serene waters of grief without looking back. You will like too much to stay there for good. Why? I don’t know. Welcome to being human. Perhaps we have to learn something from all this wickedness for ourselves to get better? Perhaps that is the Plan?
Somehow yesterday morning pondering about the futility of human living covered me harder than ever. The question that drilled through me most was: What is the point of our existence if everything is going to be the same? Each person, no matter what they do, is going to end up like everybody else. We are going to be like these people from our history books. One genius and a million of destroyers. One enlightened individual and a million of happy stand-by onlookers. The planet is going to hell, so why continue struggling? There are some fun glimpses, yes, but are we to continue working through life just because of them? All this daily striving and overcoming – for what?
Well, perhaps, some of us have broader reasons. Perhaps they can agree with me on the meaninglessness of reality, and nod at the book of Ecclesiastes, but eventually come to the end of that writing and say that we just need to trust God and his plan. Sorry. After being around for a while, that’s not good enough for me. I know I am the part of the plan, but I think I need something better than that to continue living for, because for me my life is all I’ve got. It is precious to me, no matter what philosophies and theologies say.
Music wasn’t helping today. I was listening to Helloween this morning. “Tonight we are stars!” OK. Today you have a purpose. Then what? Don’t worry about future, we live one day at a time. I agree. But for me this hour is too long. It is not about whether I can carry on. I sure can. I marched sober and responsible for quite a while, but I just can’t see why I shouldn’t finish myself off due to the fact that nothing of what I do or what people around me do going to have any significance, for everyone will perish over and over again. In ten years it won’t matter. Then I recalled Rush: “Why are we here? Because we’re here, roll the bones.” Is that good enough? What are we trying to prove? What’s the fun of being a part of a huge experiment that Gods wanted to partake since the day they got lazy of drinking nectar all day?
Let’s say we are here to help others, really care for them. Jesus said, “I give you a new commandment, Love one another.” OK. We are going to care for them and treat them most humanely possible, and hopefully get some of the same treatment back, that would be nice. But in the end – what? Just sit around and be happy? Who believes that after two thousands of years of mutually assured destruction? Let’s just imagine that we are slowly moving towards that bright future we so often heard of and one day we will be just a bunch of peace lovers. But live and struggle the whole life for that? Dealing with people, facing crap, ignorance, etc. – all to say in the end “OK, time to go to heaven, sit on a cloud and play harp all day. That’s my idea of fun, for sure!” Really? No thanks. That’s not good enough for me.
Explore and expand creativity? Create more art? I think we rely on that too much. Art and music are just illusions. Very nice illusions, may I say, but they just light up and paint a grey brick wall in clouds of color that only exists in our minds. We are the lords of illusion. But can we carry on like that forever?
Human life is a journey. A path of proving something to ourselves and others around us. But considering everything said above, within the human reality this journey is pathetic and resistance to this fact is futile. I can only see some reason in going on if I think of moving on in terms of energy evolvement. For example, my path may lay through life that I see around me as the matter in space goes through a black hole. This matter of my life has a certain destination, but it’s unknown if it will end up supporting the surrounding cosmic landscape, becoming just a part of everything it went through, only more static, or end up in another dimension, with completely different functions and fate, susceptible to completely different laws. That way I think can accept reality a bit better. See it as a process, different than just get born, go to school, get a job, get married, have kids, retire, die. In my space evolvement scheme possibilities are endless. The vision of mundane living steps away.
And I do believe in some sort of afterlife reincarnation, so perhaps not only I am going through phases of evolvement now and will continue doing it, but also I’ve been going through those stages and shapes for hundreds of years before. Perhaps my spirit that sits in this body has been travelling for a long time and this is just a temporary stop. I am travelling from somewhere to somewhere else.
Obviously I am not saying anything new. These ideas have been written, and said, and taught for a long time. It is just the first time ever that it matters to me now.
The idea of permanent evolvement. Not just in this life but in the next, based on the previous ones. Can that be a part of God’s plan? Can this be how I really live, for the sake of others and myself? I can live with that.
[the front picture was copied form ‘ere. thank you!]
When I was doing the AA book study my teacher told me “You know you’re an alcoholic. But you can recover. If you do this study to a tee and you put this work into your life, you will recover.” I sometimes go to meetings and hear people say “hi my name is John and I am in recovery.” These people go to meetings for ten years already and they are still in recovery? Why? Do they not know they can recover? Maybe they relapse all the time? Maybe they think that relapse is part of recovery? Or maybe they are scared of the end of recovery? What will do they next?
In AA book page 568 it says “Most emphatically we wish to say that any alcoholic capable of honestly facing his problems in the light of our experience can recover, provided he does not close his mind to all spiritual concepts. He can only be defeated by an attitude of intolerance or belligerent denial.”
Recover, OK? But what does it mean? Does it mean I am done with addiction of my doom for good? Forever? Nope. There is a difference between “recovered” and “cured.”
The fact that I am recovered, that is, completed the Steps and keep practicing my Step Twelve in my daily life, including staying in a contact with my Higher Power, doesn’t mean I can down a bottle of vodka and not get drunk. It also doesn’t mean I will never be tempted by a case of beer. It doesn’t mean I will never be drawn to wine again in my life. No. It means that the history of obsessions and unhealthy behaviors that I used to display in early recovery is done and gone. There is a much smaller chance for me to turn around and get hammed. I can still drink if I choose to, but each time it is going to be a disaster as I have learned it will be, and much harsher than ever before. Being a recovered alcoholic is not a 100% cured body, immune to unhealthy reactions toward alcohol. It is more of a new kind of acquired mindset plus abstinent body. It is not drinking and being happy with the way life is without drinking.
Think about it in terms of a broken leg experience. Let’s say I play in an abandoned construction site, fully aware the place is not safe, and finally get caught up in something and fall and break my leg. I am hospitalized and have surgery. My leg is now all stitched up, I have metal rakes holding it together. After surgery I am in recovery stage. I need to have my leg to return to form. Skin and muscles need to heal. I stay in bed for days until that works out well. Then doctors tell me I need to start practicing walking again. That takes quite a bit of time. That is still recovery.
Then I am good. I can walk again. I can run again. I am not cured, though. I haven’t got a new limb. The metal rakes still hold my good old leg. The trace of the cut in my skin is not going anywhere. The signs are still there to remind me of my old behavior. It can still break. And if I decide to turn by back on all that and go play at an abandoned construction site, or something similar, chances are I am going to hurt myself again. I will go down, slipping on a rusty steel plate and fall down, hitting my leg again. It’s gonna hurt. And all the way to the hospital I will be processing the same recurring thought – that was stupid. I have to go through recovery again, but this time it may be worse, because the skin, muscle, and bone, injured before, are much more compromised this time.
There it is, “cured” vs. “recovered.” As an alcoholic, I can consider myself recovered, perhaps, but never cured. And that’s good, actually, because it keeps me in check better than anything or anyone. I’ve invested many years, rebuilding my body and mind after over a decade of heavy drinking. If I go back to alcohol, I am going to screw it all and receive a tenfold of harm. I have to remember where I came form and where I don’t want to go to. I am never cured. I can still mess up if I think in terms of illusion and escape from responsibility through inebriation. But my recovered body and mind will hold me together if I am walking the right way. And now that recovery time is done, it is time for life. Responsible, positive life.