How Often Do We ‘Project’?

     I’ve written about projection, which is where we attribute or ‘project’ our own character defects onto others. It’s true that we tend to be the most annoyed by those who simply reflect the most annoying parts of ourselves. They are mirroring the negative, unattractive stuff that we loath about ourselves.

     I know this person who is constantly annoyed and resentful of this other person who is lazy, unmotivated, unemployed, broke, depressed, insecure, afraid, unskilled, says inappropriate things and can’t ever seem to rise to the occasion. What’s so funny is that all of those qualities are present in the first person! In fact, the first person is a spitting image of the second person. And not only are those qualities present, they are very much alive and well. When we sink to our lowest selves, we project the most. We avoid the truth about who and what we are by just getting annoyed and judging everybody else.

     Addict/alcoholic or not, we often resent in others what we are and what we do. It’s much easier to resent those things in others that we dislike and seek to avoid in ourselves, because in doing so, we can avoid total responsibility. Sometimes we begin to project so much, we enter a state of constant denial, eventually believing that the stuff that annoys us isn’t part of us at all, that our annoyance has nothing to do with us and who we are.

     If this continues, we lose our capacity to be honest with ourselves, and when we begin to lie to ourselves, we turn into a phony. This is one of the things we learn by writing inventory. We learn about all of the shit we are ‘projecting’ onto others. It’s like holding up a mirror and looking at ourselves instead of seeing others as the problem.

     Many critics of the 12 Steps bash this stuff as beating ourselves up, when in reality this process of truth and insight brings us relief and strength. To remain irritated and in judgement of everybody is living in a state of misery, so any tool which frees us from this nonsense is a good thing, not a bad thing. The problem is that today it has become mainstream to coddle addicts so they never feel one ounce of discomfort. The truth, however, is that this approach cripples us and promotes the very thing that got us into trouble to begin with: self-comfort and entitlement. This is the failure of the nanny state. 

     So go write some inventory. I have to do the same myself (about person number one and person number two 😉

Addiction Neuroscientists Should Talk to Some Moms

     Achieving physical sobriety is nothing. Recovery is not a function of time. It is a function of what actions we take and at what frequency we take them. The fact remains that no alcoholic or drug addict can achieve and maintain any quality of recovery without cultivating and obeying his or her conscience. Once the obsession to drink or use has been lifted and choice restored, relapse becomes a moral failure, especially if you consider the degree of agony and pain we cause others. There is no science that can justify ripping a mother’s heart right out of her chest. Sorry, but that is just the truth as it has been revealed to us through our experience…


So I took Steps and recovered and stopped robbing my family blind about 10 years ago. Because of that, my mom was recently able to sell her condo in the city and buy her cozy little dream home out here by my family. As well, I brokered the deal, helped her move, contracted work on the house, built her a desk, put up chandeliers, towel rods and mirrors, drywalled gaping holes left by the electricians, built a casing for the new service wires we ran up from the basement, laid a concrete floor to finish the basement and sprayed the entire room with waterproofing after scrubbing every inch with a metal brush and Mold-B-Gone, and finally drilled two 4′ holes at the end of her driveway and installed two 8′, 6×6 pressure-treated posts, footed in cement, to protect the new condenser for the AC split system we installed.

Why broadcast the above laundry list and ruin any shred of altruism? Because I’d never come close to helping mom do any of that and save her thousands of dollars were I still some self-indulgent, worthless drug addict. Mom would be broke and most likely broken inside after burying me years ago. Sorry, but if you think addicts and alcoholics have the right to whine about their feelings, cry in a pity pot, act like blameless victims and declare that the world owes them something, you are not only clueless, but you should be banned from addiction treatment.

I wrote that italicized paragraph a few weeks ago, but tonight, after reading a story about a mom who lost a son to heroin addiction, I thought I’d post it again. There is just no excuse for crushing the spirit of a mother and veiling the rest of her life experience with a thick cloud of bitter, heart-wrenching darkness. I am a father now and I will tell you that the love for a child is boundless and cannot be controlled. I would give everything I have to love them the right way, to ensure their happiness and success in the world. I would kill to protect my children. I cannot imagine in my wildest dreams what the loss of a child would do to me… what it would do to my heart, my soul, my life.

And here’s the thing… the saddest thing of all: We kill ourselves. The addiction is not some evil force that kills us. There is nothing any of us can conveniently blame, including our genes. Sorry, nope. Regardless of our physical loss of control while actively using and the insanity of the mental obsession, we kill ourselves. We are not born addicts, we become them. It is our selfishness that kill us. It is the loss of conscience. By using and drinking over and over and over again, the mind and soul deteriorate to the point of moral and spiritual destitution. Fact. And it will happen to anyone who engages in destructive, indulgent, irresponsible behavior.

Addicts and alcoholics have no excuse not to prevent addiction from killing us. We have no excuse to give up on life, to give up on ourselves, to not FIGHT for our souls. We have no excuse not to reach out, ask for help, get over our pride, ego, and preoccupation with comfort. We have no excuse not to reach out to God… or to just find a solution that actually works without being doped out on some concoction of mind-numbing meds for the rest of our lives. Really, the key to recovering is just not being a fucking wimp.

Trust me, once an addict begins to get better, and by that I mean once he or she begins to repair themselves spiritually and the conscience returns, never in my life have I seen a person relapse and die, because the truth is if we come to care about the consequences of our actions, there is no amount of suffering, boredom, frustration, depression, anger, angst and selfishness that would make us willing to once again ravage our mom’s poor soul. There is nothing that would make us break mom’s heart so deeply and permanently. You are basically killing two people. Make that three to include your father.

I write the way I do about addiction not to piss people off, although I’m certainly fine with pissing you off. This is addiction we are talking about. Should I hold my tongue and not rip into a sponsee of mine if he was some dumbass who needed that to survive? Why would any of this shit matter outside of the subject of addiction and trying to get people to go get better in order to stop hurting other people? I write this way to get lazy, childish, indulgent pigs like myself to run with this solution no matter how shitty we feel and then never look back, because once we lose control of our drinking or using, we no longer have the right to use. We no longer have the right to remain sick.

So please… get better so that you do not commit the crime of choking the life out of the woman who gave life to you, the woman who raised you, fed you, stayed up all night with you, sacrificed everything and gave you her time, energy, body, mind, love… the woman who gave you her heart… not to mention your dad who probably loves you more the anything in this world.

Tough Love

     You have to understand that the addict’s mind is broken when it comes to drugs and alcohol. Our #1 priority is to drink or use and remains that way until our #1 priority becomes growth. Therefore, allowing the active addict to stay with you, eat with you, share your roof, share your bed, share your wallet and remain comforted by your time, energy, love and presence does nothing but perpetuate the addiction. Being showered with comfort and privilege simply allows us to manage our addiction year after year.

     You have to remember that we really don’t care. We are phenomenal actors and actresses. We will act like good little boys and girls to get back in your door, but then as soon as we unpack and settle in, we know we’ve manipulated you successfully and once it’s ‘all good’, so to speak, our minds literally go insane and we think we can drink and use drugs again, control it, get away with it, and it’s no big deal.

     If we are robbed of our comfort and security – place to live, healthy food, comfort, love, sex, you name it – if we are robbed from the people in our lives who have loved and nurtured us, we might pause and think, ‘Do I really want to be this fucked and have nobody, or should I maybe do some fucking work on myself?’ It is the same concept with the ‘gift of desperation’. The worse we get, the closer we are getting to getting better… do you see? If our addiction progresses slowly, we simply muddle through forever because we can. If we get really bad really fast, we either die or get better. Sorry, but that’s how it works.

     Sure addicts can be forced into treatment and once the fog has cleared, we may hear something or have some inner experience, something hits us and we suddenly want to change. But the point is that if addicts don’t ever come to want to change, or if they want to change but not completely, they will fail. You must understand that we are either completely okay (as in brain restored, insanity gone) or not at all.

     Physical sobriety has nothing to do with it. You can see a recovered person visibly. It is palpable. There is a glow in their eyes. There is a fire inside. When well-cemented, guiding principles, attitudes, beliefs and behaviors that have driven us and haunted us our entire lives (or since we mutated ourselves into addicts) are completely rearranged and new ones take over, that is how you know an addict has gotten better. Trust me, you can just tell. You just know when you can trust someone. You know when you don’t have to worry anymore. It’s a feeling, a shift. It’s internal, almost cellular. The energy has changed. The addict is gone.

     So help me out, isn’t settling for anything less than this completely useless?  Do yourself a favor and demand nothing less of the addict or the alcoholic in your life. If you allow them back into your life and your heart, knowing they are not truly okay and knowing it is still toxic, you are not honoring yourself, nor are you helping them.

     If we don’t achieve escape velocity, then it’s right back to square one. It’s right back to relapse, heartache, mental illness and delusion. That’s why there is no other option than tough love. You are not helping addicts one single bit when you shower them with comfort and privilege and compassion. In fact, you are literally fueling the addiction and keeping them addicts longer. Same with designer drugs like methadone and antabuse. Same with talk therapy and watered down AA. Worthless. If all we do is read something or understand something or swallow something, we will die because we have not actually changed at all. We are fundamentally the same person and our addiction is fundamentally in tact.

     We only change through work, through action. We change when we DO things. We change when we write inventory, when we make a tough amends, when we help someone, when we meditate and when we pray. Changing as a person and removing addiction requires hard work and loads of spiritual action. Nothing less.

     Don’t get me wrong, I’m well aware I can be a dick sometimes and often fail miserably at living by these principles. The person I describe and address in these blogs is me. It is meant to be educational. Take from it what you will. If you want to unload, that is more about you than me, but go right ahead because I’ve altogether stopped caring and it will give me a good laugh 😉

Also see: Enabling Makes You Suffer
                What To Do With Addicts
                A Message for Parents & Spouses
                How Does One Love from a Distance?
                Some Truths About Addiction
                Working Isn’t Part of Recovery? 
                Comment on Narcissism
                How Not to Help Addicts