Best of Times

     “Our very lives, as ex-problem drinkers, depend upon our constant thought of others and how we may help meet their needs.” – Alcoholics Anonymous, p.20

     It was usually during the best of times that I wanted to get high the most. Why? Um, why not? If you can amplify the good times by getting jammed, then hey, load up. The whole myth that bad shit happening is what makes us HAVE to go out and drink or get high is all bullshit, trust me. Nothing bad has to happen to make addicts use. We want to use all the time, and especially when everything is going great.

     Why do we like to drink and use drugs like pigs during even the best of times? Simple, because we are the most selfish creatures on the planet. We will do anything to make ourselves more comfortable than we already are. The addict’s life is about feeling good ALWAYS. We believe it is our divine right to remain in our comfort zone every second until the moment we die… and pathetically, even if that comes at the expense of others. Even if it comes at the expense of others’ time, energy, love, health or money, let alone our own. But we don’t really care because compared to making ourselves cozy and comfortable, nobody else matters. That’s how selfish and ridiculous we are.

     Addicts cannot fathom that life could possibility be about something other than feeling good, feeling saturated by relief and bliss 24/7. We don’t understand that life might be about work, thinking, creating, contributing, self sacrifice, morals, or dare I say… other people? Is is too much to ask us to spend one iota of time and energy thinking about someone other than ourselves? Ah, yes, that’s way too much to ask! And that is precisely why addicts have no chance of getting better and no chance in hell of staying sober, if we do not give of ourselves to others. To recover, we must become other-centered. Hey, don’t yell at me, that’s what it says in the Big Book – a prophetical work, in my opinion.

God, please rid me of selfishness so I may give of myself more… 

Why Alcoholics Hurt People

     Sadly, people who find this blog often type in the search phrase, ‘why do alcoholics hurt us?‘, which results in an older post I wrote about why drinking is selfish. I renamed that post, Selfish No Matter What, and hopefully this one will come up instead.

     First, let me tell you that it’s not because of you. You are not the reason. There is no person, place or thing to blame. We have only ourselves to blame for our selfish actions.

     Alcoholics and addicts hurts others because their addiction comes first before everything. And if our addiction is our very top priority, then we will do anything it takes to use the way we want, even if that means lying to you, stealing from you, manipulating you, deceiving you, abusing you, hurting you and breaking your heart.

     Many of us probably don’t want to hurt you at all, but if we are addicts, our addiction comes first, and that means nothing and nobody will get in the way of us drinking and using to our little hearts’ content.

     The truth is that you will never come first, because even if we recover, we will have to put our spiritual health above all else. But don’t worry, because if an addict actually puts spiritual growth above all else, then our relationships and every other facet of our lives will end up in the best possible condition. For us, if our relationship with God becomes second to anything, we will lose everything anyway… and then nobody will get what they want. It’s all or none for us. We can’t worship anything worldly or we will become sick and eventually relapse.

     We hurt others because we are perhaps the most selfish and immature people in the world. We hurt others because we are infantile narcissists who feel as though nobody suffers quite the way we do and therefore we have the right to do whatever it takes to remain in our comfort zones. We hurt others because we are pathetic, whiny children who have no clue that life is not about us feeling good all of the time. We hurt others because our minds have become twisted and warped from drinking and using so much that we cannot even see that we are hurting you. We have become deranged and delusional, only believing what we need to tell ourselves to keep our habit going uninterrupted. We hurt you because we have begun lying to ourselves, and when we lie to ourselves, we don’t know if what we’re doing is up or down, left or right, right or wrong, real or unreal. We have broken our minds and therefore we are insane. Insane people don’t know what they’re doing. They only do what they think they need to do to maintain the phony existence they are living.

     There is no excuse for addicts and alcoholics to hurt anyone, and without a doubt, we hurt people just by picking up a drink or drug, let alone the various forms of abuse we inflict. If we have lost control of our drinking or our using, then every time we drink or use, we hurt others. There is no getting around that. There is no using in a vacuum.

     So my advice to my fellow addicts is to realize that you are fake, and then grow up and go get better. Get better because you have given up the right to drink and use drugs. Get better up because you don’t deserve to focus on making yourself feel more comfortable 24/7. Get better because it is the right thing to do. Get better because you owe it to everybody in your life… and you owe it to the entire world. Contrary to what you might believe, the world owes you nothing, so get better because the only other option is to die a miserable death, and spiritually speaking, you don’t want to do that and wind up in some awful place, or wind up coming back to learn the same lessons you were too much of a coward to learn this time around.

God, please show me how much I have hurt others… 

Resenting Ourselves?

     Just saw a google search on the stats page that read, how do you inventory self-resentment? I’ve also been asked this question by sponsees who are writing their 4th Step inventory.

     Can I resent myself? 
     No. We do not write inventory about resentments we may have towards ourselves. We do not resent ourselves because it is selfish. It is a form of self-pity. Engaging in self-deprecation and regret is an act of selfishness. We must forgive ourselves so we can move on and serve others. And it is the same with every other Step.
     Ultimately, we are not taking Steps for ourselves. We are taking Steps to recover so that we can become useful to others and to God. The goal is to finally grow up, get outside of ourselves, and give back. The goal is to be able and willing to help others.
     Take the 9th Step amends for example. We don’t make these amends to clear our conscience. We make them for the object of our amends, the person we hurt. We make them to give them some solace. We make them to give back. We make them because it is our responsibility and because it is the right thing to do. If, as a byproduct of doing this work, we find peace, strength, happiness or joy, than great. But that isn’t our priority. Our priority in taking Steps is to repair the damage we have done, to set things right, and to fix ourselves so that we may live a life of meaning and service. We take Steps to become fit to serve God by helping others.
     Believe me, I often make this mistake myself. Often I will use these tools for selfish purposes. I will do this work to clear out my head, clear my conscience, or to just plain feel better. That is not wrong, but it is not the primary purpose of the Steps. Sure this process also exists to give us our life back and pursue our dreams. But I must remember the reason I had to do this in the first place. It is because I lost control, hurt others, and now owe a debt to God. First we must remove our selfishness and give back. Then we can go and do our thing and have a great life.
God, help me to let go of self-pity and regret so I may better serve You and others…

Victim Mentality

     Victim is a state of mind…

     Victims believe that their feelings and their circumstances are all caused by something outside of themselves. They are ignorant to the fact that they are 100% responsible for how they feel. It should come as no surprise that victims have no interest in your life. They will blab on for hours about what so and so did to them without ever thinking that it might be appropriate to shut up and ask you about your own life, feelings, or struggles. When good things happen to you, it’s like a dagger in the victim’s heart. Success for you means jealousy and resentment for the victim, as they quickly dump their woes on you to divert attention away from your blessings. If you do not agree that they are victims, they will turn on you viciously. They will only reach out to you with charm or kindness when they want something from you. And you better give it to them to avoid incurring their wrath. They have no shame. They are desperate.

     Victims believe that all negative feelings or events that happen to them are somebody else’s fault. They see their circumstances purely as a result of events acting upon them as opposed to causing the events themselves… unless it’s something good, of course. It is always what someone said or did. It may even be the whole world’s fault, as each and every one of us somehow owes the victim something. Whatever the cause, it is anything but themselves. Guess what? Victims are narcissists. The victim frame of mind and worldview is a narcissistic one.

     Sure, there are real victims out there, but I’m not talking about them. I’m talking about being a victim in your head. An actual victim is someone who is, say, randomly abducted, tortured and then killed. A fake victim is someone who thinks they are a victim because someone humbled them, or because of choices they themselves made. They somehow don’t believe that the consequences of their own actions are their fault. Yes, they actually think this way. A fake victim thinks they are a victim when they abuse someone and that person retaliates. A fake victim thinks they are victimized when friends and family give them some tough love by setting boundaries around their negativity and mental illness. They actually wonder why other people don’t want to be around them. They actually wonder why other people are freaked out by them.

      I engaged in this sort of nonsense for years. Alcoholics and addicts can easily fall prey to such a childish and ignorant victim mentality. If an alcoholic or an addict thinks they are sober but still believes they are a victim, they are no better at all. Think Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. To recover, we must step out of the darkness and understand that we are not victims. Nothing outside of us makes us feel the way we do. Who we are, what we feel, what we do, and what happens to us are purely our own responsibility. My advice: Don’t be a victim. It’s unattractive.

Plato’s Allegory of the Cave

God, teach me that I’m not a victim…

Selfishness Kills

     Selfishness will kill us even in sobriety.

     So will untreated alcoholism, though I suppose there isn’t much of a difference.
     My father, whom I loved dearly, was a perfect example. His untreated alcoholism took his life, as his spiritual malady became so great that it manifested itself organically in his brain. He was diagnosed with early-onset dementia and over the course of 10-15 years, his brain gradually degenerated and decayed until he died. Sorry, but you don’t get dementia in your 40s. He was a severely depressed, withdrawn, and untreated alcoholic.
     Translation: He was gravely ill spiritually.
     If we don’t ever get better from our alcoholic mind and our alcoholic spirit, despite being sober, we will probably die anyway. And chances are that we have already died spiritually, long before our physical death.
     It is therefore more dangerous to get sober and try to live life with a cauldron of demons inside. In fact, you’ll probably do more harm as a sober but untreated alcoholic than as an active drinker. And if you do less harm, then the one thing I can assure you is that you will suffer beyond description.
     So there is no point to get sober and simply drag yourself to AA meetings, collect a chip, drink some coffee and listen to stories. As far as I’m concerned, we alcoholics have only one choice: Take steps.
     Translation: Embark on a rigorous program of spiritual action that will effect real and lasting change within us. Do enough work to get close enough to God to fundamentally change our minds, our attitudes, and our lives. If we get sober and don’t change, we are dead. If we get sober but don’t change completely, we are dead. But if we get sober and go to any lengths to change, then we become free forever and come to witness untold miracles in our lives…
God, I humbly ask you to rid me of the spiritual poison of self and selfishness…