Sober since April 6, 2006


Sunday, April 30, 2006

Scrambled Perception & Social Aberrance

We read the following passages from Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions in a meeting Saturday morning, and I couldn't help but see myself in it. The first paragraph seems to describe ALL alcoholics. The second and third paragraphs describe me especially:

Alcoholics especially should be able to see that instinct run wild in themselves is the underlying cause of their destructive drinking. We have drunk to drown feelings of fear, frustration, and depression. We have drunk to escape the guilt of passions, and then have drunk again to make more passions possible. We have drunk for vainglory -- that we might the more enjoy foolish dreams of pomp and power. This perverse soul-sickness is not pleasant to look upon. Instincts on rampage balk at investigation. The minute we make a serious attempt to probe them, we are liable to suffer severe reactions.

If temperamentally we are on the depressive side, we are apt to be swamped with guilt and self-loathing. We wallow in this messy bog, often getting a misshapen and painful pleasure out of it. As we morbidly pursue this melancholy activity, we may sink to such a point of despair that nothing but oblivion looks possible as a solution. Here, of course, we have lost all perspective, and therefore all genuine humility. For this is pride in reverse ... it is the very process by which the depressive has so often been led to the bottle and extinction (p. 44-45).

But it is from our twisted relations with family, friends, and society at large that many of us have suffered the most. We have been especially stupid and stubborn about them. The primary fact that we fail to recognize is our total inability to form a true partnership with another human being. Our egomania digs two disastrous pitfalls. Either we insist upon dominating the people we know, or we depend upon them far too much. If we lean too heavily on people, they will sooner or later fail us, for they are human, too, and cannot possibly meet our incessant demands. In this way our insecurity grows and festers. When we habitually try to manipulate others to our own willful desires, they revolt, and resist us heavily. Then we develop hurt feelings, a sense of persecution, and a desire to retaliate. As we redouble our efforts at control, and continue to fail, our suffering becomes acute and constant. We have not once sought to be one in a family, to be a friend among friends, to be a worker among workers, to be a useful member of society, Always we tried to struggle to the top of the heap, or to hide underneath it. This self-centered behavior blocked a partnership relation with any one of those about us. Of true brotherhood we had small comprehension (p. 53).

"Instinct run wild" (first paragraph) is precisely what causes alcoholics to drink. Our instinctive response to stress is to seek the numbing shelter of alcohol. When I allow my instinct to "run wild", alcohol is the first thing that pops into my head. It's my instinctive answer to every problem: drink myself numb, and maybe the problem will go away. (In truth, drinking only makes problems worse! But the instinct to drink is still the same, regardless of knowing the truth.)

In reference to the second paragraph, I definitely lean toward the depressive end of the scale. In fact, I probably tip the scale. I'm constantly "swamped with guilt and self-loathing". I often find myself under the mindset where "nothing but oblivion looks possible as a solution". Regardless of how happy I am at any given time, my perspective always manages to turn negative and I become overwhelmed with cynicism. My knee-jerk first reaction to adversity is to give up and drink. Since I can't drink, I think about dying if I'm really depressed, or I'll just want to curl up in a cave somewhere and hide for forever. I can't help it -- that's my first reaction.

I perceive everything as being my fault. Misunderstanding? My fault. Relationship turns sour? My fault. Bump into someone's shopping cart at a grocery store aisle intersection? My fault. Rising gas prices? My fault. Global Warming? My bad. Ozone depletion? Oops -- I shouldn't have eaten that second burrito at lunch ...

Some people say that alcoholism is "a disease of perception", because it causes you to interpret everything around you in a negative light. I could have a great conversation with someone, but walk away thinking that I've made a fool of myself. I could write an amazing blog entry, but sincerely believe it to be utter crap. I could be a good person with high potential, but I perceive myself to be a bad person who is doomed to fail.

In terms of relationships (third paragraph), my biggest pitfall is relying on others excessively. I feel so insecure about myself that I end up relying on the assurance of others to gauge my own worth. To make matters more complicated, I don't believe their opinions anyway -- unless they're negative. I believe every negative thing said about me: every criticism, every insult, every thrashing -- because it reinforces what I already believe: I'm a worthless human being. So why do I rely on other people's opinions anyway, since I'll only believe the negative opinions? I have no idea. None of this makes any sense whatsoever ...

Regardless, "This self-centered behavior blocked a partnership relation with any one of those about us. Of true brotherhood we had small comprehension." My own self-centered behavior makes it impossible for me to have healthy relationships. My limited understanding of healthy relationships makes things more difficult -- even for forming basic friendships.

I have very few friends -- and they are all people that I met six to ten years ago and rarely talk to. I have met literally thousands of people within the past five years. But I have formed basic friendships with none of them. I wonder why?

"The primary fact that we fail to recognize is our total inability to form a true partnership with another human being." I insist on being the center of attention. I require support, but I can't be relied upon to provide similar support. When that causes a problem, I either drink to escape the problem, or I manipulate the issue in an attempt to clear myself of wrongdoing.

I don't even know how to reciprocate appropriately. Even when I genuinely try to reciprocate -- I'm always waaaay off base. It's either too little, too much, or the wrong kind, at the wrong time. I'll do my best to find whatever works and reciprocate with that, even if it's something unhealthy that harms myself in the process. The natural working order of a healthy relationship is completely foreign to me.

So it's no wonder that I find myself alone. I have nothing to offer anyone aside from needy dependence and ultimate disappointment.

Why would anyone desire friendship with such a socially defective individual? I'd better learn to enjoy being alone.

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