Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Relationships

My mantra of choice was always “Leave me alone.” From childhood, I have found the company of others difficult, akin to hanging out with porcupines. I believed I was never treated the way I felt I deserved, never felt understood, never fit in.  Until I found out the power of alcohol, it performed social alchemy. I finally fit it, I felt normal but eventually the boomerang came back.  It lost the magic. Fast forward many years and then this description on page 151 of the Big Book describes my experience well:
The less people tolerated us, the more we withdrew from society, from life itself. As we became subjects of King Alcohol, shivering denizens of his mad realm, the chilling vapor that is loneliness settled down. It thickened, ever becoming blacker. Some of us sought out sordid places, hoping to find understanding companionship and approval. Momentarily we did - then would come oblivion and the awful awakening to face the hideous Four Horsemen - Terror, Bewilderment, Frustration, Despair. Unhappy drinkers who read this page will understand! 
I have often joked that the best think and the worst thing about recovery was getting my feelings back. Truthfully, all those feelings come from relationships. I like the quote from Antoine de Saint-Exupery, "Man is a knot into which relationships are tied." The joys and the pain that comes from hanging out with others, with trying to live my life with another. I was really surprised how clear it was laid out on page 80 of the 12&12:
 ...  defective relations with other human beings have nearly always been the immediate cause of our woes, including our alcoholism ... 
I have shared, in the past, of how I have left meetings with tears on my face because I did not get what I had hoped for at the meeting.  One of the most powerful pieces of recovery literature (for me) was an essay Bill W. wrote, a meditation on love, St. Francis, dependency, and depression. He wrote:
Suddenly, I realized what the matter was. My basic flaw had always been dependence, almost absolute dependence, on people or circumstances to supply me with prestige, security, and the like. Failing to get these things according to my perfectionist dreams and specifications, I had fought for them. And when defeat came, so did my depression.
There wasn´t a chance of making the outgoing love of St. Francis a workable and joyous way of life until these fatal and almost absolute dependencies were cut away.
In the same essay, Bill W. gave me this wonderful bit from his experience:
Because I had over the years undergone a little spiritual development, the absolute quality of these frightful dependencies had never before been so starkly revealed. Reinforced by what grace I could secure in prayer, I found I had to exert every ounce of will and action to cut off these faulty emotional dependencies upon people, upon AA, indeed upon any act of circumstance whatsoever.
Working the steps is not a simple task. It takes honesty, openness, and willingness. It is work and the results are deeply worth it. Bill concludes with:
Of course, I haven´t offered you a really new idea --- only a gimmick that has started to unhook several of my own hexes´ at depth. Nowadays, my brain no longer races compulsively in either elation, grandiosity or depression. I have been given a quiet place in bright sunshine.

 Yes!  Bright sunshine. Just for today.

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