2017 LifeRing Annual Conference, click here for more information

Tag Archives: Addiction

On Belief, Part I: The Reflex

 

Hey, everyone – how are you all doing out there? 

If you’re a new reader of our blog and I haven’t had the chance to greet you before, welcome! If you’ve been reading our blog for a while, welcome back! You may have also been wondering whether you’d ever see anything new from me again or if I’d abandoned ship completely…

Well…what can I tell you? You probably already know that I’ve been sucked into the LifeRing social media vortex for a while (say, have you Liked our Facebook page yet? Are you Following us on Twitter?), but what you don’t know is that I’ve had a few things I’ve been stewing over for a long time, the past in year in particular. In terms of wrangling my thoughts into something resembling a coherent fashion – which in my brain amounts to a 3 ring circus where anything that can go around in endless circles will – I’ve been concerned with trying to express myself in a way you won’t find snore-inducing, offensive, or just plain bizarre.

Until now, I’ve done a little writing about it here and there, I just haven’t published any of it. It’s delicate subject matter intensely personal to all of us, so much so that it’s not something very many of us enjoy having total strangers who know nothing about us, nor whom we know much about, challenge: our beliefs.

Let me put it to you this way…

Have you ever believed something beyond a shadow of a doubt – would have staked your life and the life of your Grandmother on it – only to find out it was just an illusion?

Before you say “No, never, not me!” bear in mind that you and I both know this hasn’t been an uncommon occurrence in the history of mankind. Some examples of it could be something as simple as (quick, cover your kid’s eyes!) finding out Santa Claus is only a fictional character to discovering someone you trusted implicitly has a lot of best interests in mind, but yours is not one of them.

Makes you feel like a damned fool, doesn’t it? Me, I hate not knowing things, just hate it. It makes me feel like something I found of value about myself – i.e. knowing things other people need to know but don’t off-hand, such as where the bathrooms are in Lowe’s (in an effort only to be helpful, of course, although in some circles this is known as being a “busybody” or a “know it all”) – suddenly went in the discount bin, without my permission. It’s an unsettling, discomforting betrayal of the sort that will set one back on their heels and make solid ground feel awful shaky for a while.

But. These things happen to the best of us, especially when the illusion is artfully constructed or portrayed, and by no means make us faulty characters beyond hope or redemption. We’re an imperfect lot, us homo sapiens, pitfall prone, warts and all – but by god, we know what we believe in, and why.

Simply put, belief is an essential component to the human experience. Belief in oneself or another, for example, can make all the difference in someone’s life when nothing else will. Belief in things greater than oneself – or lack thereof – can, too. It’s how we tell our stories – about ourselves, one another, where we come from, where we’re going, why things are the way they are, and why we are the way we are.

Belief allows us to form ideals and principles which help us to connect us to one another and the world around us. It instructs, informs, and imbues our reality with meaning and purpose. It can propel us forward into exploration and discovery of new worlds or keep us rooted in our many and rich histories and traditions. Belief helps us succeed, helps us fail, helps us help one another.

For all of these reasons and more, we need belief with which to frame our experience as much as anything else in our lives. Like most every other facet of human nature, however, it’s a double-edged sword which colors our perceptions while it adds or detracts, benefits or harms, progresses or digresses, shapes and distorts our experiences in ways both positive and negative – and very often, both at the same time.

Where it gets all dark and twisty, though, is when we accept something as true without being aware of any factual evidence or basis upon which to do so – and everyone does it in some way or another, whether we’re aware of it or not. Don’t we make decisions about what we believe is true about ourselves, other people, situations, or environments every day?

But it can get especially messy when we cart these beliefs around with us until they become unshakeable parts of our worldview – and of who we are in it – such that no one could pay us enough to believe anything else. Even more fraught with peril still is when a bunch of like-minded individuals get together. Don’t get me wrong – sometimes, it’s a wonderful, beautiful thing. Sometimes, it’s a mob with torches and pitchforks.

Again, there is nothing uncommon about this quirk of human nature in our time here together on Earth, so far as I can tell.

Remember that time when almost everyone believed the Sun revolved around our flat Earth, even though Eratosthenes figured out it was round way back in 240 B.C., right up until those stinking heretics Copernicus and Galileo came along during the Renaissance and really screwed everything up?

Thank goodness for those pesky scientists, right? And yet…

Dig if you will the picture of “modern” medicine a little under a century and a half ago. Sure, we got by and everything, but did you know that doctors back then had no idea that they should wash their hands before, in between, and after caring for their patients to keep from spreading deadly infectious bacteria and viral matter from one to the other to the other (or, as was often the case, from the trusty educational cadaver to still-living patient)? And that even when Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis, a respected medical professor at Johns Hopkins University, discovered through observation and trial that was exactly the case, they still refused to change their practice?

Yeah, that’s right – his colleagues roundly criticized his silly little hand-washing idea, ignored him, and sent them both packing to the insane asylum he died in for reasons unthinkable today. Many of his fellows were incensed, for example, that anyone would dare suggest bacteria could be carried around on a gentleman’s hands. Really.

And then, having later found out his ideas were absolutely correct (which then gave birth to the study and proliferation of science at the cellular, microscopic levels, and ushered in the modern era of medicine, the universe, and practical living as we know it), you would think such a tragic chapter in human history would remain closed forever. Because after that. we would have learned our lesson and become hip to not ignoring shit at our peril, right?

Yeah, uh, hold up. Let us pause and reflect upon what we know now, and how such a simple little thing could have saved hundreds upon thousands of lives across the millennia if only we’d known about it – and then accepted the fundamental possibility of it instead of dismissing it because it did not conform to our previously held beliefs.

Mind-boggling, idn’t it?

Now, fast forward to our current age of enlightenment and reason. (Laying it on pretty thick there, aren’t I?) Does what eventually became known as the Semmelweiss reflex still figure anywhere in our thinking, culture, discourse – indeed, the very fibers of our being – to the extent it renders – yes – even reasonable, rational, thoughtful, intelligent, sentient beings into quivering blobs of dissonant, doubtful, ignorant, dismissive goo?

Why yes, yes it does.

And so, by now you may be asking, “Alright, fine, but what does all this belief business have to do with addiction and recovery?”

Everything.

 

If you like what you’ve read so far, I hope you’ll join me next month for On Belief, Part II: The Conundrum. 🙂

~~

New Meetings in Portland OR and High Wycombe UK!

We’re thrilled to announce we have two more new meetings, and if you live in or near their locations, please – check ’em out!

Chris C., convenor of our first Portland, Oregon meeting at Providence St. Vincent Hospital (on Tuesdays at 6:00 PM), has started another meeting – way to go, Chris! Here’s the meeting information:

When: Fridays at 6:00 PM

Where: Alano Club of Portland, Clock Room, 909 NW 24th Avenue, Portland, OR 97210

Convenor Contact Info: Chris can be reached via Phone: (503) 593-7606 and E-mail: maddogclc@gmail.com

After lamenting a lack of a face-to-face meeting in her neck of the UK woods, longtime e-mail list LifeRinger Julie M. has decided to start one of her own beginning next Tuesday, March 7! Woo hoo, Julie!!! Here’s the meeting information:

When: Tuesdays at 7:00 PM

Where: Oasis, 41 Baker Street, High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, UK

Convenor Contact Info: Julie can be reached via E-mail: lifering.highwycombe.uk@gmail.com

 

We wish Chris, Julie, and all of their new meeting members our very best!

 

~~

 

 

New Meeting in Las Vegas Starts Today!

Albeit on slightly short notice, we’re very pleased to announce a new LifeRing meeting is starting at 1:30 PM today in Las Vegas, Nevada! Here’s all the information:

When: Saturdays at 1:30 PM – First Meeting Today, 02/25/2017

Where: Care Complex, 200 Foremaster Lane, Las Vegas, NV 89101

Convenor: Bryanne D.

Contact Information: E-mail: LiferingBree@hotmail.com

We wish Bryanne and all new meeting members our very best!
~~

Updated: New Online Meeting and Venue, and One Meeting Location Change

 

We’re pleased to announce that starting on 2/22 we have a new online meeting to offer everyone* who wants to join in. Here’s all the details, per the meeting moderator Penny Pulz:

What: LifeRing Video/Audio Meeting with Penny Pulz

When: Weekly on Wednesdays beginning 2/22/17, Start Time: 7:00 PM Arizona time (6:00 PM PST), Duration: 1 hour

Where: Link to: https://meet56243352.adobeconnect.com/video-pennypulz/

Summary: A venue for open recovery Video/Audio meetings. Our usual topic is “How Was Your Week?” In this, our standard meeting format, we ask each participant to share with us the highlights and challenges of their past week in recovery, and what they plan to do to stay clean and sober in the coming week.

Please also note that the link provided leads to a new chat room/meeting venue we’re currently testing to see if it will better meet our needs than the old version. This one works in pretty much the same way, and if you’re a registered user your credentials will work in this venue the same as the old.

If you have any questions or concerns about the test site, please feel free to contact our chat coordinator Melly at: liferingchatcoordinator @yahoo.com.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Additionally, our face-to-face meeting location in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho has changed to: Bakery by the Lake, 601 E. Front Avenue, #104 in Coeur D’Alene. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact meeting convenor Raven C. at: ravencrumlifering@gmail.com.
And that’s all for now, folks. We wish Penny and all new online meeting members, as well as Raven and her meeting members in their new location, our very best!

~~

02/22/2017 UPDATED POST: We originally posted that the new online meeting would be held on Australian time, however, it is in fact being held on Arizona time. We regret the error. – Bobbi C.

 

Irreconcilable Differences – A Guest Blog Post by Rich C.

LifeRing’s e-mail groups have always been a great resource of support, encouragement, and community to those who use them as recovery tools. So many of the posts people write come from the deepest parts of themselves as a means of expressing their internal recovery processes. A lot of people have described the end of their relationship to their drug of choice – and their decision to kick it to the curb once and for all – to that of finally leaving of an abusive lover or spouse. A divorce, if you will…

The following is just such a post, created by my dear, brilliant husband, Rich C., which exhibits a…conversation, between one’s newly empowered Sober Self and their Addicted Self. It’s so good, it seems irresponsible not to share it with everyone! 

So here, without further adieu, is a break-up of epic proportions, written by Rich C.:

Alcohol:  Hey, sweetie, it’s been a while.  Have you missed me?  Did you get my messages, and my texts?
Me: I supposed I sort of missed you, but that’s not why I called.  I have news for you.
Alcohol: Can I come over?  Can you tell me in person?
Me:  Uh, not really.  I prefer that we keep our distance.  The news is that I want a divorce.
Alcohol:  A divorce?  What about our vows?
Me:  That’s just it.  I don’t even remember our wedding.  We were hanging out a lot, and next thing I know you’re wearing this ridiculously expensive ring, my bank account’s gone, and I have no recollection of anything.
Alcohol:  Well, darling, I do recall.  As you know, when we make love I do what I can to erase any memories of our intimacies, and other stuff.
Me:  Yeah, I have noticed.  You didn’t used to do that, you know.
Alcohol:  Well, our love has evolved, so to speak.
Me: Yes, it has.  So, are you saying that we made vows, “to love, honor, cherish and obey,” etc.?
Alcohol: Well, you made them.  I don’t do that sort of thing.  But, take my word for it, you recited it over and over.
Me:  Well, here’s the problem.  If/when I promised to stay true, to love, honor, cherish, etc…..
Alcohol:  Don’t forget “obey!”
Me:  Sorry.  Obey, and so forth, “in sickness and in health,” I wasn’t thinking in terms of YOU making me sick.
Alcohol:  Don’t forget “til death do us part.”
Me: Precisely. Right. But it didn’t say I had to wait until my bride murdered me.
Alcohol:  Okay, whatever.  So you want another trial separation.
Me:  No, this time is different.
Alcohol:  Hey, that’s MY line.
Me:  Yeah, and I’m sorry to say I’ve bought it all too many times, but I’ve finally figured out that it’s a lie.
Alcohol:  So anyway, we’ll take a little time away from each other, I guess.
Me: You don’t get it.  I’m done.  Through.  Finished.  Bye-bye.
Alcohol:  Well, I’ll go ahead and give you a call at 5 PM every day.
Me:  No, you won’t.  I’ve taken out a restraining order against you, and I’ve set all my phones to recognize your number and send you to voice mail, which I never listen to.  You call me, and you go to jail.
Alcohol: Like I’ve never been to jail.  Big deal.
Me:  Yeah I know–we went together, remember?  But this won’t be like that.  I won’t be there, and neither will any of your other lovers.  You’ll just be sitting there by yourself, with nobody to talk to.  So you’d better not start your harassing calls, this time.
Alcohol: Well, then I’ll send my mind-worms after you.  You can’t hang up on them.
Me:  You wanna bet?  You know what, you’re just a friggin’ molecule, is what you are.  You have no power over me.
Alcohol:  I’m a part of you.
Me:  You were.  Now you’re just a memory, and a mostly bad one at that.
Alcohol:  (sniffling) Is there someone else?
Me: Yeah, there is.  And her name is Life.  Guess what, she’s not perfect, but she’s not trying to kill me and make me do stupid things.
Alcohol:  Life?  I remember when you’d come over so you could get away from that bitch.
Me:  Yeah, that’s right, I used to do that, but I didn’t know how good I had it then.  And there’s a bonus.  Once I started seeing Life again she introduced me to Bobbi, and Bobbi is my one true love.
Alcohol:  Wait a minute; you’re cheating on me with Life, and you’re cheating on Life with someone named Bobbi?
Me:  No, not cheating.  It’s a threesome, if you will.  The truth is, Bobbi’s a part of Life, just like love’s a part of life. I’ve got my kids, my friends, my hobbies, my work, art, music, all things I love.  They’re not separate from life, and neither is heartache, loss, disappointment, fear, or pain.  But I found out that trying to kill the bad stuff kills it all.
Alcohol:  Come on, you know I’m a great enhancer of pleasures and a reducer of pain.
Me:  You were, but over time you became a pleasure reducer and pain enhancer.
Alcohol:  So, what are you claiming–“mental cruelty,” or something?
Me:  I could, but we’re in California, and it’s a no-fault divorce state.  All I’m saying is “irreconcilable differences.”
~~