It has recently become clear to me that urgency is one of the most powerful tools in the arsenal of weapons used by our disease to trick us into relapse. Along with adrenaline, urgency is a powerful drug that can drive us to behave counter to our best interests, blinding us to the potential consequences of acting while in its clutches.
I recently read an interesting article about how losing stuff can change your life.
The author’s bottom line was that “Involuntarily losing shit … brutally takes things away at random and makes you fight to get them back so that you remember and reaffirm the value of each one.”
When I lose stuff, I also often lose perspective and go quite berserk no matter how valuable the lost item. Thankfully, recovery has enabled me to improve in this arena. However, being on an extremely tight spending plan does make the pain run a bit deeper for me as I cannot blithely buy another of anything anymore.
I am thinking of embarking on a new moratorium. No, not a spending moratorium. Already did that for three months. No, this one will be much harder.
I propose a moratorium on criticism, which is a subtle form of gossip. And on self-righteous indignation, which is very loud criticism. And let’s throw in giving advice, which leads to self-righteous indignation when the receiving party doesn’t want to do what I say.
I’ll probably have to tape my mouth shut for the duration because, really, what else is there to talk about?
“It is plain that a life which includes deep resentment leads only to futility and unhappiness.” (Page 66 of the Big Book.)
Are justice and compassion mutually exclusive? I have been thinking about this for days. I believe they may be for those of us in 12 Step Programs if we are to have any peace.
Here’s what I mean. When I see something I consider unjust, I feel myself getting all riled up. Adrenaline begins to flow and self-righteous indignation is the result. I spout off (often loudly) about the injustice of it all. I can get myself utterly worked up. And that is not good for my recovery (or my health).
In trying to live a life of peace, when I am wronged I am told in the Big Book to show “tolerance, pity, and patience that we would cheerfully grant a sick friend.” (page 67) I am assuming that this extends out to harms perpetrated on anyone. Otherwise, the Big Book would say that it is OK to be enraged at the court system if you disagree with a verdict or the government if they don’t behave as you would like. Instead, the Big Book says on page 66:
But with the alcoholic, whose hope is the maintence and growth of a spiritual experience, this business of resentment is infinitely grave. We found that it is fatal. For when harboring such feelings we shut ourselves off from the sunlight of the spirit. The insanity of alcohol returns and we drink again. And with us, to drink is to die. If we were to live, we had to be free of anger.
That means I cannot afford to get worked up over anything. That means that I have to find a way to meet injustice with compassion. Or I will eventually relapse into compulsive debting.
According to Malcolm Gladwell in his book, Outliers: The Story of Success, “Practice isn’t the thing you do once you’re good. It’s the thing you do that makes you good.” Using information from his own research and a study of violin students in the 1990’s, he concludes that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert among experts.
Time magazine, among others, have found holes in this theory. But the crucial message for me, as an addict, is that it takes time to become good at anything … including recovery.
My son graduated college two weeks ago. He fully expected to walk out of graduation into a job. But his Higher Power had a different plan in mind. My son interned at an ad agency during his last semester and found a calling as a copywriter. The agency agreed … as did the clients. His ideas and scripts were produced. He was led to believe that he would be hired. But as the weeks of his internship went on, a sure thing led to uncertainty. And by graduation, he was told that there was no job available, but they would try to see if they could possibly add him as a freelancer. And so he waits. And mopes.
I am a “Baby Boomer,” not a “Millennial” like my son. Yet, as an addict, I suffer from Entitlement-itis – the feeling that I deserve what I want and don’t have to follow the rules to get it. I “should” be given what I want without effort and I shouldn’t have to go through the effort put forth by “regular people” to accomplish goals. Even my smallest effort “should” be rewarded by accolades and riches.
This may seem like a strange topic. How does fear of death relate to our DA program? For me, this has been a longstanding issue that permeates how I live my life.