- The guy sleeping in a small entrance cove of a store, at two in the morning, with a near-empty wine bottle tucked inside his stained trench coat.
- The guy, with blood-shot eyes, standing in front of a seven-eleven, asking me for loose change so he can “buy a piece of pizza.”
- The guy, with hands trembling, sitting on the steps of an urban church, stopping passers-by telling them he needs gas money to visit his mother in hospice.
- The barroom story-tellers spinning out their lazy-tongued tales of resentments against a boss, an ex-girlfriend, or all the corrupt Washington politicians in bed with Wall Street.
(I dedicate this article to all those who live in the dark world of chronic sadness and depression. Although I don’t address the issues of clinical depression, I believe that many of us have what I call a “depressive personality.”
My comments in this essay address that kind of personality. They are not meant to support the world views that many with that personality trait share. They are merely an attempt to understand the ebb and flow of those attitudes and world views that depressive personalities share.
And I would like to make it very clear that many of us with that depressive personality type are not consistent with our dark world views. There are days when those views dominate. And there are days when the world gives us every reason to want to go on living.
With the help of a twelve-step program and twenty-nine years of sobriety, I have gradually, but sometimes reluctantly, moved over into the world of chronic happiness. But, as the saying goes, “old habits die hard.” Namasté) Continue reading
God as Metaphor of the Ineffable
God has been around a long time in Alcoholics Anonymous. For some, He remains the brick and mortar of the program. For that same group, He is the only Higher Power, a power that can, literally, move mountains.
For others, like myself, God is a metaphor of the ineffable. He or She only becomes the ultimate etiology of reality when nothing else can explain the mystery behind the mystery.
We are here. We are the effect of what came before. And something came before that.
But, at what point, does all cause stop at the door of the Ultimate Cause, the Cause that has no Cause before it? That, my friends, is the stubborn question that will not yield an answer. And, in my judgment, the door will never, ever open to that answer because Being is itself: it has no Ultimate Cause. It just is. And always has been. Continue reading
“Love and do what you will,” says St Augustine. We are told in the New Testament to “Love thy neighbor as thou would love thyself.” And then the kicker: “Love thine enemy.”
Shakespeare tells us that love is the “ever fixéd mark,” the stable grounding to all our emotional vagaries. And what fool in his right mind came up with the notion of “two in one flesh” to describe the close bonding we’re supposed to experience in a committed physical and emotional relationship? (the two-in-one-flesh metaphor, by the way, is seen by many as a convenient mandate to suppress individuality. I’m just sayin’). Continue reading
Free from desire, you realize the mystery
Caught in desire, you see only the manifestations.
The Temporal and the Eternal
Okay, I think I get it. The opening poem (or chapter) of the Tao Te Ching is telling me that there are two worlds: the temporal, where words (names), “manifestations,” and “desire” exist; and the “eternal” where the “nameless,” the “mystery,” and serenity (free from “desire”) inhabit.
Just when I think I have nailed it, the Tao then tells me that the eternal and the temporal come from the same “Darkness,” or, better still, “Darkness within darkness.” Continue reading
During my active alcoholic/addiction days, I vividly remember believing that if I descended into the booze enough, I would somehow come out car-wash clean. My repressions would be lifted. I could be my real self. I wouldn’t have to hide. I would be diamond-cut perfect. And, of course, I would have a winning style and personality.
What is it about this “descent” thing? Dante certainly believed it. Buddha had to go through his moments with his demons. Christ had his Gethsemane and his desert temptations. And soldiers have their foxholes.
No pain, no gain, as the saying goes. Continue reading
(This is another blog post on addiction and may help non-addicts understand the many-layered world of addiction, a world I once inhabited and continue to recover from. Because addiction is an equal-opportunity emotional and physical derailment, I purposely shift between the pronouns, “he” and “she” to avoid the impression that men have a monopoly on the world of addiction).
My drug of choice was booze. But the behavior and emotional patterns I exhibited could apply to all addicts. Each addiction obviously has its own uniqueness, but, in working with cross-addicted individuals, I have found many of the emotional and psychological traits to be the same. Continue reading
Woody Allen once said that whenever he was somewhere, he always wanted to be somewhere else.
We are never satisfied, it seems, to be where we are. There is always some other goal to attain, some other fantasy to fulfill, some other dessert we haven’t tried.
I say that to all my twitter friends because right now I would rather be conversing with all of you. But today I must engage myself in the beautiful discipline of expression, to dip my feet into the pool of some thoughts I have been having about my own addiction (alcohol was the addiction of my choice). Continue reading
I was listening to an NPR program, “On Point,” the other day and a writer was being interviewed about his book in which he claims that alcoholism is not a disease but an ism of choice.
I don’t believe there are too many recovering addicts or alcoholics who would give themselves over to the generalized assertion that all you have to do is “will” yourself into sobriety. Those of us who have been in the rooms for a while would not deceive ourselves into the naïve belief that one’s individual will can unilaterally “conquer” or defeat the enemy of addiction.
Over the many years that I have been in alcohol recovery, I still remain grateful that alcohol rehabs were available when I first chose to stop drinking. During the first year of my sobriety, I continued to go to an out-patient counselor whose professional experience proved to be invaluable.
However, around the last month of my first year as an out-patient, I began to sense a need for closure. My counselor also seemed to have run out of material, and I had sensed that his usefulness was beginning to become more frayed. It wasn’t that he had suddenly become an incompetent counselor; it was just that recovery issues for him were limited to the more immediate, day-to-day behaviors and relationships during that first year. He was not trained to deal with deeper, more chronic psychological/psychiatric issues.