Of course it shapes some elements of our personality.
Of course it installs some programming in our "mental software."
But ultimately, through writing, sharing and listening, I perceive that pain is either part of a growth process or a choice, but the suffering generally comes from my resistance and it does not have to define me.
"Disasturbation: The practice, usually while sitting alone, of creating detailed mental scenarios involving failure, negativity or personal humiliation. While disasturbation often triggers fear and (potentially) depression, it also offers a perverse pleasure for alcoholics as it is one more way for them to spend great lengths of time thinking about themselves."
I must have laughed for five solid minutes when I heard this at a meeting this morning.
I was in school. Junior High, though some places I guess it's Middle School. Anyway, we were studying "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof." And reading some of it in class aloud, which was pretty painful to hear, actually. Anyway, there's this part where Maggie is pleading with Brick not to take another drink. "Please, Brick, please don't have anymore." Well, Tennessee Williams probably put it better than that. But Brick keeps saying, "I have to. 'Cause I haven't felt the 'click' yet. I have to drink till I feel the 'click.'" And everyone in the class is talking about what that might mean. What Brick meant, or what Tennessee Williams meant by that. All these big Southern Gothic themes and metaphors and Brick vs. Big Daddy and fathers vs. sons and just these grand theories. But I had read about Tennessee and I knew he lived a drunken life and died choking on the cap to a plastic pill bottle. I knew he was a drunk, and I knew that the 'click' wasn't any grand southern gothic literary allusion. I knew it was what I drank to feel.
I drank to feel the click. Simple as that.
This striking abstract portrait is by South Korean painter Kwangho Shin.
When I was arrested I had enough drugs on me for the charges to automatically be filed under those they use against dealers. It was something like "possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute." But I assured anyone who would listen, from the arresting officers to the judge, that there had been absolutely no intent to distribute -- I hated sharing! Those drugs were all for me.
I hated the people. I hated the meetings. And I hated the Steps.
I didn't have a lot of options back then, so against all odds, however grudgingly, I kept coming.
After a little while, maybe a couple weeks or so, couple dozen meetings I guess -- lame as this sounds (and I know it sounds pretty lame) -- I realized that all that meant is what I really hated was myself.
Which is also kind of weird, since in a way I didn't even know who I was back then. But I was pretty sure that whoever -- or whatever -- I was, I hated it. I wasn't much for Oprah. Had never been able to afford therapy -- not that I had been willing to go, anyway -- but it was a real lightbulb moment for me. Like that all the hate I had, all the contempt, pouring out of me was coming from a place inside which I was kind of drowning in; and all the drinking, all the drugs, all the... everything... was tangled up in that too.
By then I had heard enough people speak and share and though, like I said, I hated a lot of it (I couldn't shake that -- and I was sure as hell not willing to do much, at the beginning) I DID believe that a lot of you used to feel like I did, but that you didn't feel that way now. So then, along with hating myself -- like, right along next to it -- was something else I felt, though I hadn't in a really, really long time: Hope."
My first AA Meeting was in a clubhouse. I walked into the meeting room and they had one of those big posters of the Steps framed and hanging on the wall. I looked up at them and I thought, "Oh, good. There's only twelve of them. I should be done with this in a week."