Awhile back I started reading a book called "Anatomy of Peace". My sister sent this book to me because it helped her and she was nice enough to want to pay it forward. The book is written by two Psychologist, one a Jew and the other Muslim, both from Israel. The book goes into some detail about their history and how each side had battled the other for the holy land and left the after taste of revenge. In one section it goes on to explain justification and that when we, ourselves, do something crooked or ethically off track we have to look out at the world as crooked to justify (or make straight) our intentions. I didn't agree with all of the theories this book presented, but this one in particular rang true with reality as I know it.
For instance when I was drinking and my sister sent me this book I cynically assumed it was some kind of hint. I was in such a selfish state of thinking that it was beside me to accept the fact that someone just wanted to do something kind. We often think of this kind of justification as projection. I like the word justification for the purpose of explaining why we, as alcoholics, must make the world crooked and distorted to ensure we are always right.
The analogy works because many times we were physically off kilter, I guess you could say as well. Trying to make a world straight when we couldn't even stand upright.
I must say I have some good qualities, but I'll tell you right now I am not the poster child for honesty. That is one thing I've discovered I can be honest about. At least until I'm willing to accept and examine myself in totality. Admitting we are alcoholics is the first lie we untangle in the process of getting sober. This reality can take people a lifetime to recognize. It is essentially saying that we should not EVER drink. We have to admit that if we do, it's a pretty insane and wrongful idea knowing what we know about our reaction to it.
Since I struggled to be honest with the discovery that I could not handle alcohol, instead of committing to not do it, I moved to a stage of telling myself that honesty is not that important. I then start justifying the world to match my distortion thinking such as "the next time I'm with a guy I don't want to know everything about him, I don't want to know if he's dishonest or does something to ruin the relationship." What does this say about me?
Don't answer that. I'd rather be right.
Hopefully, this inspires you to think about your crooked thinking that effects how you view the world. The benefit is that you can change how you view yourself and how the world responds to you simply by getting real, humanizing others, having love and formulating compassion. You can also learn what your main issues are and write them down. Practice having love for all of your flaws as well.
I've always been a sucker for musicians. So no surprise when I found out the ONE GUY at my meeting that I felt interested in was a musician. In fact, I wasn't totally sure I was digging on him until I saw him sing. It was a beautiful gospel song and his voice was utterly amazing. It triggered a part of me that said "yup, it's on". He came over and talked to me afterwards and handed me his number telling me I could use it if I needed anything. I responded "Oooooh, are you hitting on me?" My friend nudged me "Girl, don't say that!"
Okay, stop. See, it's been over fifteen years since I've met someone sober. But my mouth still functions like that of an inebriated person. Drunk, can't you just hear it? "Ooooh, are you hitting on me?" What the fuck is that? I'm glad I have people around me cause I'd just keep functioning like a drunk if I didn't get some guidance on how to be normal.
Anyway, I called the musician and the first red flag came up. He asked me if he could come over and pray for me. I dried RIGHT up. I'm just getting into the spiritual aspects of my recovery and due to the religious abuse of my childhood it gave me the heebie jeevies (jeebies? What is it?). I brushed this off, actually, I declined the prayer but said I would be okay to hang out.
I also remembered that he had told me about his webpage. I looked him up and all of his samples were praise to Jesus gospel songs. Not one Stevie Wonder. No Motown. No Lionel Richie covers. Disappointed!
Regardless, the next day he came over and we had a good old time. Laughing about stupid shit like why people don't say EBT after they say "Snap!" Eating pizza and talking about our past lives. I started to forget about the weird prayer offer and foggy pictures that looked like they were from the eighties on his web page and started to humanize him again. It was going well. So well that two days later we made plans to go to a sporting event.
This is pretty much where the story comes to a close. We went to the event and stopped at Taco Bell on the way. When we got there we laid out a blanket to watch the runners, but first he made a prayer offering for our Doritos Tacos. I felt awkward, but like I was a shitty person for feeling awkward. I certainly felt like I wasn't going to be able to get turned on by this guy ever again.
So I found out some things about myself, that's good. Also, a word of advice to guys. Praying doesn't make you look like a good guy when you aren't being considerate enough to ask if your company if it's okay.
Also, NOT HOT.
Four months ago I discovered that my kids' dad had developed a meth addiction at 38 years old. This was right before Christmas, right before he usually flies out to see the kids. Suddenly, my child support payment started to slim down to nothing. Phone conversations and texts were bazaar and the timing would lapse sometimes for days to get an answer to a simple question. Even though he had excuses lined up none of it made sense. I asked him about drugs and he denied it to the grave. I asked him to take a drug test and he said "sure". His confidence translated to me as a "no". Also, to make things worse he had a new relationship with someone who had the means to support a comfortable meth addiction. A foreclosing house that she was not paying on and an inheritence.
In four months time I saw my ex go from holding down a good steady job for five years to being unemployed, losing his home, losing his car, losing his families respect and actually living in a tent on the days when he and his gf go through their manic tipping points.
I never wanted to try meth, heroine or crack. In all my partying I had been around those drugs, but the damage I saw alcohol do to people in a decade was only taking meth addicts a month to accomplish.
This has not made being clean and sober harder for me, it has made me stronger in my conviction because I'm watching the train wreck happen. I'm so glad that it's not me.
However, I'm drawn into the disease by wanting to control it from the outside. All the character defects I have are drawn to focus on fixing his addiction. Even though I know I'm not helping and ACTUALLY I'm making it worse I've been verbally berating him for the shitty father he is. I'm battling with an illusion. The illusion that he has control over this. The illusion that he is stupid, that he is plotting and planning all of this and that he thinks we are all fools. Addiction is a disease.
The right thing to do in this instance, I've studied, is to let them know you care, that you will be there for them when they are ready and to close the door. You have to protect yourselves from becoming enabling or better yet disabled by the addict. When they are ready they will be clean and sober. Ready does not mean they are saying they are ready, "ready" is a series of actions they have taken themselves to show you they mean business.
I know it should seem like second nature that an addict would know how to treat another addict. We forget. Part of our very own cycle was marked by an inability to recall why we stopped in the first place. This is why AA and Al-Anon are helpful, to remind us of the why's and how's. Most of each meeting we remind each other of what alcohol and drugs did to our lives that would be keeping us coming back.
If you're a problem drinker and have ever found yourself in the uncomfortable position of declining a drink at a social function, it can be hard to think on your feet and not spit out the awkward "I'm an alcoholic". Here are ten other reasons you can give that will stop a drink pusher in their tracks.
1) "I'm over hydrated" - Nothing will bore a drink pusher faster than a dissertation on the harmful effects of over hydration. Feel free to really get into the physics of it. "Did you know that hyponatremia can cause confusion, headaches, nausea and bloating?" The drink bearer will retreat faster than your will power.
2) "Is it okay to take that with my anti-psychotic?" OMG, did you just say that? I was joking, but it worked didn't it?
3) "I'm on a diet, get that outta my face!" - You can say this with humor. Diet jokes are an easy fallback to actual, well thought out wit. Just like jokes about coffee, everyone will get a chuckle, roll their eyes and go back to the meaningful conversations they were having with someone else.
4) "My dad is an alcoholic" Blame it on someone else. I'm sure your dad (who has never had a drinking problem) will be happy you threw him under the bus in order to preserve your sobriety. After all, he's the greatest guy on the planet and even in the wake of your disappointment has always been there for you. No one is going to question this, it sounds like you had a fucked up upbringing. That's what they are all here to forget about!
5) "I'm driving" Maybe you are driving, maybe you aren't. Maybe you've had three DUI's and everyone knows about it. In any case make sure you have a spare set of keys to jingle through out the night to prove the point that you are definitely driving.
6) "Fuhgetaboutit" No explanation needed. You're that guy/girl. The drink offerer may think you didn't hear them, but they're not going to ask again.
7) "I'm actually allergic to alcohol" I've heard that alcoholism is really an allergy so this isn't a lie. You might be lying about everything else in your life, you're an alcoholic after all, but at least you can put a truthful twist on why you can't drink.
8) "Oh no, I shouldn't have that, I'd ruin everything." This is even more truthful. You aren't outright saying you are an alcoholic just simply teasing at it. This might open up the conversation to hyperbole about the hypothetical things you might do if you take that drink. Be flirty!
9) "I only drink Courvoirsier". No one ever has Courvoirsier and you look super too classy for everyone. Just make sure you study how to say it first or your cover is blown and you look like a jack ass.
10) "My IBS is flaring up" Oooooookay, so if all else fails no one wants the party fail of having the bathroom smell like their was a pipe blown. Nuf said.
Photo by Blake Lisk on Unsplash
First off, I'm not an anthropologist.
I'm just a woman sitting in my bedroom fuming about one of my roommates and considering the concept that maybe women are responsible for the world's alcoholism.
Bare with me.
I live with a few other women and there has been no greater obstacle than the patience, fear and discomfort I have had to sit with in dealing with them. I can only imagine how men feel. And I know there are women out there nodding in agreement. It has truly been a legit obstacle. Here are a couple reason's why and some of these are common in dealing with the "every" woman and some are particular to women specifically in recovery.
1) JEALOUSY/ENVY AND HATERISM - Unfortunately, I am starting to think women generally don't want what is best for other women. Oh, they do if that woman is beneath them and will never even get close to even, in that case women love being hero's to raise their own score. But in my observation most women become threatened by another woman who is thinner, stronger, more beautiful, more intelligent and a plethera of other things and want to even the score. This is an attitude I do not understand myself perhaps because I am always the Cinderella. I strive to gain and when I do, it is quickly torn apart by the nearest step sister archetypal manifestation. I, like Cinderella, am somewhat oblivious to the intentions and continue to serve others which I innately standby as one of my true purposes. I like friends in higher places, I want to learn from them or be seen with them admittedly. I'm one of those women that truly is happy when something good happens for another. These concepts of the Hater woman are ones that have continuously had to be explained to me, but enough times that I am beginning to recognize them. Why are all of these women continuously "coming at me"? It's crazy.
2) PARANOIA - More in recovery than not I see the questioning of true intention. And it is true that in the world of addiction people had to manipulate to get what they want. Anyone who says otherwise is lying. The alcoholic who drank someone else's vodka than filled it back up with water so they wouldn't notice, the drug addict who slept with someone for a fix, anyone who has stolen anything so they could have money to feed the addiction. There were also psychological manipulations of others...verbal and emotional abuse to get our boyfriends to behave how we wanted, acting out behaviors to get our parents to behave how we wanted, all kinds of control tactics to get the world to succumb to what we felt were our needs. The addict is also victim to manipulation by the disease as they justify that everything is manageable when it is clearly not, that it is no one else's business cause they are not hurting anyone, that they don't have a problem because they are able to maintain a job and on and on and on. Another way that women manipulate is by being passive aggressive. They may loudly proclaim a general disliking for cake-makers while another woman who is a pastry chef IS IN THE ROOM. Taking passive jabs is a way to try and manipulate others into feeling inferior while putting oneself in a higher position. This is a very common thing I have observed with women in recovery or not.
Women, I feel, are particularly the more talented sex when it comes to manipulation and that in part may be due to our power dynamic with men. From a young age we are shown that we have power over men when it comes to flaunting our sexuality. We are able to manipulate men into getting what we want by the implication they will receive sex in return. Whereas men, I feel, customarily have learned to extract things they want in more forceful or aggressive ways.
Unfortunately, when it comes to getting sober these lingering manipulations exist even though, if you are working a program, these are the exact flaws you are trying to bleach out of your every day existence. It can create an air of personality confusion and paranoia not knowing if you are crazy and stuck in old thought patterns or if others are engaging in their addictive behaviors and gas lighting you to distract from their own garbage. And women, like I said, are relentlessly engaging in such manipulations daily. God, I need more men in my life.
Luckily, these are things you can take to a "sponsor" or an objective person and untangle. But it's all extra work! And in the end you discover that none of this is your business in the first place! All that work for nothing?! Women, ugh.
3) HORMONES - Women are biologically disposed to conflict (this is hyperbole and me just being an ass as I'm currently on a "time of the month" schedule). But seriously, when spending loads of time with other women there are otherwise unexplainable feuds that arise simply from our body chemistry. I'm not just talking about periods either. There are other hormones like Cortisol which determine how we respond to stressful situations. In a weird study women who were shown angry faces began to produce more of the hormone whereas men just checked out. So you can imagine two women going at it is a stress snowball, collecting cortisol as it continues to grow in intensity. Also, if you happen to be a female that generally has higher levels of estrogen or progesterone you are more prone to mood swings, sleeplessness, anxiety and other agitation. These are phantom issues that one may not blame or even be able to identify that cause outward conflict leaving others to wonder "what's her problem?" or "what's wrong with me that this person keeps targeting me?"
4) ENERGY - When I think of energy, I use the concept interchangeably with spirituality. When someone's energy is out of balance or poorly maintained they lack the ability to transcend the world, their problems and every little thing in their life appears huge and important. Some day we are going to die and most of this shit isn't going to matter. The things that will matter are our relationships with each other and how we treat our fellow human beings. Unfortunately, existing on different spiritual energy planes can pose an obstacle to connection and it can be frustrating as all heck. I'd never say that to another woman though, she will find a way to "appear" spiritual so as to manipulate the situation to get what she wants. I'm joking...kind of. I'm not saying I'm the most spiritually enlightened person ever or that I'd even be one to teach on this topic. I'm certainly still in pupil status and studying, working diligently and struggling to apply what I learn. Application is the most difficult part. I had a Buddhist monk for a therapist and he once told me "It's easy to smile when every one is smiling back, but what if they are frowning?" (See also cortisol response to frowning in 3) HORMONE'S....IT AIN'T EVEN UNDER MY CONTROL MR. MIYAGI!)
5) CULTURES AND BACKGROUNDS - Not just women, but obviously this is just another fucking barrier to understanding each other. I had a Vietnamese roommate that wouldn't say anything if something was bothering her and she'd slowly shut down more and more then it was my job to identify there was a problem and seek out to remedy it. Women being the great manipulators they are will use culture to one up or alienate another woman. This isn't just women, this is a product of mob effect or Group think that happens in many cultures where people are unable to think for themselves and base judgement on personal interaction instead of prejudices that have been passed down or constructed by their society. It is a widespread problem that exists in many societies, America and it's many colors included. See also nationalism or jingoism. As it pertains to women, like I said, anything they can and will use against you.
6) MENTAL CHALLENGES AND PRESCRIPTION DRUGS - Just because somebody is sober does not mean they are not on some kind of mind altering substance. Many people take SSRI'S, Anti-psychotics, meds for depression, anxiety and a number of other psychological ailments. I'm not saying it's bad, the reality is though that there are side effects to most medications which can sometimes present interpersonal challenges. Some side effects may be: Irritability, suicidal tendencies, mood swings, lethargy, lack of passion. My mother-in-law was on Zoloft and admitted to me that she felt like harming others which is not a common side effect, but you can see how that could pose some problems! Then there are people who have mental challenges that are under diagnosed, untreated (by either therapy or drugs) and can be underlying issues that cause mental goose chases for everyone else trying to understand what the problem is when everything else looks fine. Women manifest these differently then men do, but quite frequently scapegoat other females for the discomfort they feel within inside their own mind.
Now I'll bring drinking into the equation. It's not hard to see the allure of numbing oneself in regards to interactions with women. In sobriety women are some of my least favorite people (God, did I just say that out loud?). But in my drinking life when we were reduced to our lowest common denominator without all the other pretensions, energetic barriers, mind control and need for total domination women were my favorite pals always down to dine and ditch, run into a bush to pee and drip dry and dance our asses off until morning. We had each others backs when guys were the enemy and I could go and snuggle next to my girlfriend in bed while she wipes off my drunken tears. Now the only women I feel comfortable doing this around are actually gay men.
Please tell me your thoughts on this. I'm just going to keep on writing whether people answer or not with hopes that this catharsis keeps me from manifesting the many colors of madness within my own being. Also, I am only nine months into sobriety so my support roots don't go that deep. I have heard that relationships among women who are in active recovery together are more deep and fulfilling as time goes on. Thank you for your supportatage!
So I’m an alcoholic, yada yada yada…which means I’m sick of drinking away my life and yet secretly trying to find ways that it might be okay to do so. I want to be sober, but I’d like to enjoy my sobriety with a drink if that makes sense. Life would be perfect if I could only be sober, drunk.
I’m committed to this process of becoming sober, but ya know I’ve already decided I’m throwing my sobriety out the door if one of these things happens:
Imagine the kind of coping skills I could have if I spent my time reading about emotional regulation and distress management instead of coming up with strategies dependent on imminent failure. I may be doing it all wrong, but cynicism is a coping strategy in and of itself. Today, I’m making fun of my addiction not indulging in it. Maybe I’ll be that person that makes light of the end of the world as it’s happening to pull people out of themselves so they can have that perception instead of all encompassing doom. Or maybe I will party with Jesus AND Scott Disick during Armageddon and certainly say I had no regrets.
Sobriety involves a lot of detective work: searching for clues, making deductions, drawing correlation, quantitative analysis and analytical reasoning. For the mind of the alcoholic, we were in denial and our relationship with drinking was obscured by the compulsive nature of the disease. In so many ways we had to make concessions to continue to feed the disease including minimizing bad things that happened on account of drinking, compartmentalization, blaming bad things on everything/everybody/life so we could be the victim and feel justified to drink, tunnel vision (preoccupying ourselves on one area without all to protect ourselves from having to quit). It appeared that we were the victim of life and alcohol was our friend, our savior, our relief when, in fact, alcohol had paved these mental pathways to cause us to feel victimized instead of empowered. So when getting sober you have to go through the crime scene and look at some of these things in a new way.
Ex. A: “Oh, wow, I was giving my partner anxiety just by leaving the house to go to the store (thinking I was going to come home drunk) THAT’S why they were always stressed when I’d leave. I always thought they were mothering me or trying to control me when I was the one whose disease had created an unhealthy dependency scenario.”
Ex. B: “Oh, wow, my disease was fabricating reasons to drink by causing unnecessary drama and stirring the pot. Most of my life situations were no more unbearable than the average person’s day to day. In fact, comparatively, I have it better than most people in the world.”
Then further conclusions are drawn. The intent was not there, for instance. I never meant to harm anyone. The knowledge that your innate self is not bad or wrong and that most (but not by any means all) of the bad things you had done were in the course of your drinking life. Could they be related? And I know this sounds like an easy conclusion, but when you have been working for the defense for years acquiring evidence upon evidence to support that alcohol is not responsible, that other people were, that alcohol is the hero, etc., etc. this can be quite a radical notion. It takes a great timely divide to even begin to look objectively as this evidence, but then you start to really deliberate and put the pieces together. However, the disease is always there like the smoothest and best looking attorney of all time (Kaluah Kardashian) presenting an appealing case.
Thanks for taking time to read about the new drinking game you can play exclusively in your head! Should I have a drink? is a one player game where you go back and forth in your head deliberating over whether you should have a drink or not. Players that make it all the way through "Internal Dialogue" and reach the end without having a drink...win! Along the way players will land on spaces with either Validating cards or Rejecting cards. An example of a Validating card might be "No one will know if you just turn off your phone all day." An example of a rejecting card might be "It always ends up bad". You will also be stocked up with a deck of "Past History" cards which contain hundreds if not thousands of your past drinking experiences. If you are lucky you will land on a "Play the Tape" space and be able to draw from your "Past History" which will advance you directly to the winners circle. If you lose you will be given a "Guilt and Shame" card to store away for the next round...of drinks. Your biggest opponent is yourself, so hold your breath and see if you can successfully make it to the end sober. You're entitled to it, but don't tell yourself that.
When I launched into sobriety 7 months ago I’d forgotten about the mandatory month long bender that accompanied the holidays. When summer was over I thought the rest would be a breeze, but now that Thanksgiving has passed and Christmas is readily approaching the Blah-lidays are really setting in. Here are some of the myths surrounding sobriety during the holidays that have proved to be false.
1. You’ll be SDD free
This acronym used to stand for Seasonal Depressive Disorder, but now looks like Sobriety Depressive Dysfunction. Where you once dealt with the winter grays by turning into a social twister that could detect even the slightest party you’re now dreading the invites that seem to be coming at you from an unstoppable tennis ball dispenser. Since you dumped all your old drinking contacts for new AA (Albeit Annoying [as shit]) enthusiastic home karaoke party junkies it seems as though the SDD has kicked up to clinical levels. The worst part is that the idea of being around people seems as appealing as having your body crunched into an accordian and set on fire.
2. You’re family will forgive you for hitting on Uncle Keith, falling on the turkey and almost burning down the gazebo at grandmas.
It feels as though these things happened ten years ago to you, but everyone else remembers them like they were from last year (the more accurate timeline). Since you weren’t there (mentally) it’s easy to move through life without the feelings associated with being a drunken failure, but somehow the family wants to put you to the test to see if you’ve REALLY changed by showering you with guilt like it’s fake snow on a Christmas tree to see if you’ll react and cut out or suddenly be the most exhaulted zen like creature on earth with the ability to apologize at will so they can feel validated at last for the rotten things they said about you. Nope.
3. You’ll be riding a “pink cloud”
With your newfound ability to experience pleasure without self-medicating.Don’t be surprised if the pink cloud never comes and instead your forecast shows more of a brownish-grey with black spots. You may not even be riding it, it could potential just be following you like a crazy AA stalker.
4. Food will taste better
Now this myth is actually true, the problem is that food will taste so good that it will become a substitute for the nurturing lost starting with your teenage years. You will feel as though you finally have the familial love you’ve been striving for as you watch Charlie Brown Christmas with your friends bucket O’ chicken, bucket o’ cole slaw, bucket o’ snickers and 2 liter Peter. Why you named him Peter is a mystery, but could have something to do with the high school crush you were too shy to ever talk to that you saw loading the car with his happy family in the driveway on the way to your mom’s house to help her cry through the first Christmas without dad.
5. You’ll have more money
It did seem like you had money aplenty, but then the month of December hit and when the demand of selflessness hit your desk the stress launched you into buying a 4oo dollar haircut. You now look great with your purple balayage and modern mullet, but as Christmas approaches your dreams of getting the family solar powered survival kits has been reduced to travel mugs from the dollar store filled with off-brand chocolate kisses and Christmas cards made from cutting a square out of wrapping paper. At least you bought gifts this year you tell yourself as you ask someone for a dollar in the parking lot.
So now it’s Christmas and your haircut cost 400% more than any gift you’ve brought to the party, the only one who seems excited about it is Uncle Keith who brought extra eggnog this year and as you approach the house your gag reflex is triggered by your sober red-headed cousin Eric singing “one week” by Bare Naked ladies. As you enter the maw of the dreaded party you can’t help but think if it’d be better if you were drunk. Then you see grandma’s gazebo through the back that has been rebuilt and beautifully strung with lights and a delicious enclosed buffet and you finally feel like your riding a pinkish-orange cloud as you think “I hope they have lot’s of deviled eggs in there.”
Being my first year sober through the Holidays, I can see it blows. First years are hard for everyone that is trying to abstain from their addiction; Pavlov and his theory of classical conditioning explain why. Some people use the word "trigger", I say "association". The first year of sobriety we have no other association with seasons, events, smells, interactions than those that revolved around our addiction. I drank kayaking, at baby showers (yes, I got fucked up at my friends baby shower), after a workout, in the summer, in the winter and yes, during Thanksgiving and Christmas. When summer came on this year and I realized I was going to try and dedicate myself to being sober I had to white knuckle it through the sidewalk eateries, the heat on my chest reminding me how good a cold beer would be, the smell of the flowers, the excitement of freedom. Excitement is a triggering emotion for me even more than sadness or anxiety. The call of adventure impregnates my loins and I feel the rush to the call of fresh experiences (not really impregnating, but sometimes). Unfortunately, the fresh, new experiences are freckled with nightmarish remembrances. So the first year is paving new pathways, creating new associations. Subsequent years you can say "Oooh that smell reminds me of ice cream!" or some new replacement, some better memory. Some of the memories I have of drinking will never be topped by what I experience in sobriety and I just have to admire and observe those for what they are. I can look at Vegas on a post card and think "What a great time I had there" and never step a foot there sober. Not even cause my Vegas experience was amazing, but I'll never top it sober cause the reality is that I hate Vegas.
A writer living in Portland, OR looking to meet Chuck Palahniuk. Single mom to 2 boys, sales agent and lawyer-in-training.