About Me

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I have recovered from the disease of Alcoholism. I believe there is only one person really,.. everybody. And that peace of mind is everything. -So treat your neighbor as you would treat yourself, because your neighbor IS yourself. I think most of recovery is what I would call common sense, but that learning to be ordinary is a true gift very few people acquire. My ambition is to accept everything unflinchingly, with compassion, and therefore be intrinsically comfortable in my own skin, no matter what. I am comfortable being uncomfortable and am willing to go to any lengths to improve my life. I believe the Big Book was divinely inspired, and is extraordinarily powerful. Unfortunately AA's best kept secret a lot of the time. (In my opinion). I just try to do what works, no matter what it is.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

The difference between 'hiding' and self restraint

I was just thinking about pretense when we have a desire to appear a certain way to others, and also the ability after a while of being in recovery to be every 'contained' with what we happen to be experiencing. And how those two things can look a bit similar from an external view, but are actually two very different choices, done with two very different motives.

So basically what I mean is, do we have good or bad motives for choosing very deliberate, contained and restrained ways of relating to others? I think its all in the motive.

I don't really like the word pretense, or pretending because they both imply dishonesty. but I'm taking it to mean a sort of very conscious way of expressing oneself as opposed to 'unedited' expression, or behavior.

"Skilful or Good' pretending. (Ego puncturing reasons.)
Act as if
Behave better than you feel
Bring your body and your mind will follow
Restraint of tongue and pen
Not 'indulging' emotional reactions
Not blindly following feelings

"Unskillful or Bad' pretending. (Ego massaging reasons.)
Telling you I'm fine when I'm not.
To conceal or withholding information about faults for fear of being judged or not living up to to other peoples (unrealistic) expectation.

I find the 'pretense' thing interesting. Yes, I did used to do that. But I have a different way of expressing myself now that Is very ? Contained and restrained. As opposed to 'zero impulse control', so what I may look like on the outside and what I am experiencing internally may be two very different things. But I would not call that pretense. The fact that I do not need to explain my inner conflicts to whomever I meet could also be described as an inner/outer mismatch, but its the motive that makes it different. The 'containment' is not done for the sake of protecting the ego from the (imagined) judgment of others, it is simply because relating all my experiences to others as they occur does not always help me. Sometimes it does. But not very often. I can often obtain more peace of mind by focusing on what I can contribute.
Anyway. Its all interesting. I love this recovery thing, it never stays the same. Seems to shift around constantly. And you can never be entirely sure if you are right or deluding yourself which adds a certain 'Je ne sais quois' to say the least!
All I know is that I can 'feel' when there is a desire to hide a weakness for fear of being judged. If I feel that, then I know I am wrong and ego is in charge. If that happens, I try to puncture it by saying the thing that my ego is telling me I should keep to myself. I did it this morning as a matter of fact and it seemed to work. The ego is a funny old beast. I can just! about feel it when it sticks its head up over the parapet. But its not always easy to see.


Syd said...

Pretense for me was all about not appearing to be weak because then I would be less than perfect. It was about putting on a brave face when I felt shattered inside. Before Al-Anon, I didn't let down my guard to reveal how bad I felt. Even in therapy, I would only go so far. It was just too painful to go back and dig around in the necrotic soul.

After getting a sponsor who I could relate to and working on step four, I let go. It was like flushing a toilet. I'm not afraid now to say that I feel bad or that I'm having a bad day. I know that I will never be close to perfect. I have flushed the past away and let myself be open and honest. No more pretending to be other than what you see. I do reserve the right as you say to not relate all my experiences to others but only to a few in the fellowship. Not everyone needs the gory details. Those outside the fellowship just don't understand. For them, I just provide an absract and not the full dissertation.

Mama Dukes said...

when I first heard act as if I was confused since I thought I'd never been able to be myself before, how was this helpful

But bring the body the mind follows
and take the action the feelings follow--these worked best for me

Happy Easter