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.

Monday, March 15, 2010

There is quite possibly nothing as unattractive as desperation

"He clamors for this or that, claiming he cannot master alcohol until his material needs are cared for. Nonsense. Some of us have taken very hard knocks to learn this truth: Job or no job - wife or no wife - we simply do not stop drinking so long as we place dependence upon other people ahead of dependence on God.
Burn the idea into the consciousness of every man that he can get well regardless of anyone"
. (p98, AA Big Book)

I spoke to a very new and very desperate newcomer quite recently. She is a very extreme example of a codependent. I'm not sure if codependent is the correct word, but I do know that she could not imagine life without any romantic relationship. Basically she has a chronic dependency upon the presence of a romantic relationship, without which she can see no purpose in life or any meaningful existence.
She sounded extremely troubled and extremely desperate. I have to say I don't meet very many women who are as openly desperate and openly dependent as this one. Most are afraid to admit that they are chronically dependent on even the most unsatisfactory relationships.

There are so many different types of alcoholics that come to AA. Some appear reasonably happy on the surface but have absolutely no control over how much they drink, and come to a because they've tried everything else and nothing works. Others come in emotionally and mentally frazzled, full of hate, and extremely nilhistuc. What I mean is that some are in the advanced stages of the physical progression only, yet not very far advanced in the mental and emotional progression of the illness. And then others are very advanced mentally and emotionally, yet not very far progressed in terms of their physical compulsion. The ones that are consumed with resentment are more testing to talk to for any length of time, but I remember vividly being consumed with contempt in my early days, so I suppose I don't take it personally. Having said that, it surprises me how unashamed women are in expressing their hatred so openly, as if completely guiltless about their unabashed contempt. Times have changed perhaps, or else different cultures are more accepting of admissions of contempt.

I was reflecting on our conversation after we had spoken, and I was very grateful for her example of chronic dependency. In Buddhism they refer to the 'grasping mind', or the 'hungry ghost', representing an appetite incapable of being satisfied. Although I do not suffer from anything like her extreme levels of chronic dependency, I am only free of my dependency to the extent that I am able to see my own irrational clinging to people places and things, (various conditions) in a deluded attempt to pin reality down to a controllable form.
Because I am powerless over people places and things, this attempt to control people and places and things leads only to suffering. I may not have become bitter and twisted or overtly dependent in a way that she expressed, but my own tendency toward dependency on people places and things will never leave me.

The very best I can hope for is to have sufficient self-awareness to see the deluded nature of my wish to have people places and things a 'certain (self-centred) way'. Eager to hold onto them, and make them "mine", or push them away so that they no longer have the opportunity to disturb me. Both attempts to control the uncontrollable are deluded and 'wrong'.
So her overt and theatrical display illuminated in stark relief the insanity of dependency in all its forms. Subtle and not so subtle. I could not have asked for a better lesson in the insanity of dependency. So for that I am grateful.
I hope she makes it. She's clearly very disturbed and so that reduces her chances quite considerably unless she is willing to follow suggestion. But sometimes it works the 'wrong' way round. Sometimes it is the most desperate people are the ones most likely to pick up the tools of recovery. You just never know.

On a happier note I met another very new woman whilst nipping out to the shops who gave the appearance of being the polar opposite of the chronically dependent woman. This woman appeared to be absolutely ready to forego the deluded belief that her wish to control her ex-partner was anything other than fruitless. She was ready to look for something else. I love the mosaic of personalities I meet in AA. They are endlessly varied and never dull.

On a completely different and lighter note, I had a much-needed pamper and feel much better for it. I had a day of rest despite feeling very restless which restored me physically, then caught up with skin, nails and hair treatments which may not have had much effect but make me feel slightly more human after a long spell of sleep deprivation. Ultimately the best thing for the body is not skin treatments but impeccable diet, lots of water and exercise which is a !! slightly harder remit to fulfil.
It's a gorgeous spring morning over here. Very very sunny and lots of birdsong. I hope you have a good Monday.

"If you look for certainty in that which is uncertain, you are bound to suffer" Ajahn Chah


Mike L. said...

the good news about desperation is that it sometimes comes just before a moment of willingness. and willingess seems to be the key ingredient to recovery. thank God for despair!

i sometimes think that our greatest friend in the endeavor to help the suffering alcoholic is the disease itself. i like to acknowledge this and leave all the heavy lifting to the disease.

take care! glad to see you posting again.

mike l.

Syd said...

The first young lady sounds like she need some good Al-Anon eventually. I understand that desperate feeling of needing to be needed (i.e. being in a relationship). It's as if I had to be interlocked with another. Chronic dependence is like a vise grip on the heart and mind. I realize as you wrote that it is likely I will have some form of dependency as long as I live. Mine manifests these days in being hurt by what others do or say. I will be a work in progress for the rest of my life.

johno said...

I am chronically dependent upon my job. How do I know? The fear and other defects it brings up when I consider leaving. Yet to stay is destructive.

Can't live with, can't live without!

Job or no job, I am changing my name to Job

happy spring :)

Anonymous said...

IFOB, it sounds like you meet truly incredible people through AA. I know that I have met my best friends while in treatment too. I think there's just an instant connection with people who have suffered in similar ways to you. It's very powerful, even if you don't become friends.

Enjoy the lovely spring day! It's rainy over here, so I will have to live vicariously through you.

Wishing you well,

Unknown said...

I'm here via Syd and so glad! I love meeting new recovery blogger friends. I like how you described the woman who sees herself as less than without another human to focus on. Detaching, letting go, giving in, and surrendering are what finally made me teachable. I believe in miracles..for her too.


Unknown said...

one of the greatest lessons being revealed to me over and over again, but this time I'm listening...is that ultimately we are all alone, not in a desperate or terible way but in a way that offers us solitude and love not lonliness and desperation. I have had to recently let go some frinedships and such that were overlly dramatic and too much work...andit was very difficult, life offers many lessons for me in the people presented. Thank you as always for this post and your posts...I always take away so much.