"The Art of Self Sabotage"
Here is an observation from an actual conversation I had the other day. The person has been sober for over ten years, I think it's twelve but no matter. So we're talking. Mostly I'm listening to a running commentary on things that are going wrong, things that are making him crazy or driving him crazy and maybe medication, and maybe this or that, and how he was doing this, and so and so got mad, and then he went here, and thought he'd do this, and maybe he just needs to focus on this, and forget about all that.... and on and on.
When that finally wound down I mentioned that I thought I had a decent idea for solving all problems. How I had been convinced that all problems were caused by an adherence to a fictional life story. This adherence placed people in the land of the unreal and ask them to make sense of it. That I was certain that there was a few things that anyone could do to get out of such a world. I said that the world that we find ourselves in is the result of a lifetime of taking in, processing and storing data.
That if we wanted to change things we would need to put in new data which would result in the creation of a different picture of the world. Once in this different world we wouldn't have to deal with the problems we were having since, in the real world, they wouldn't exist. He got really frustrated and said that was just way to much. He was going crazy, he was really being crushed under the weight of his struggles, and the thought of compounding things by starting in on an entire new course of action, like, 'making a different world...', just wasn't anything he wanted to consider as a possible solution. He said, "I just want to be happy, I just want a normal life.....I want a relationship...". He said he would just keep going to AA meetings and listening to other peoples trials and stuff. That it must be working because he hadn't got drunk yet.
I don't know what you, the reader, are recovering from or dealing with. I don't know what it is you've decided you want to stop. I want to point out two things about this type of brain spin. Number one, this huge chore of relearning and data gathering that was referred to by this guy as "the Course" is not optional. No matter what, you don't get to not do it. It's what all human beings do 24/7. Thinking that you don't want to start on a intentional selective "course" of data input, because, "it's just too much", is a direct result of a life built on bad data. The thought that "I'm not going to do that" needs to be seen as what it is: a fantasy. You can't not do it. He is doing it. I am doing it. You are doing it.
So we are all taking "the course" by default. Knowing this we can then choose our electives and teachers. The Course: is not optional. The other thing that leapt out at me from the statement that, "he would just keep going to AA and listening to other peoples trials and stuff and that it must be working because he hadn't got drunk yet", was "that's a good place to start". It would be great if it wasn't ten plus years later. Do I think that people shouldn't go to meetings and do these things and whatever else keeps them habit free? Of course not. Do I think there are other things to do? Absolutely.
Long lasting freedom from addiction is not common. Long term sobriety is reported at around 5% to 10%. There is no real way of getting these stats so they're really just educated guesses. But if you hang around any recovery community you will get an idea of the overall picture. A good friend of mine says, "Most people don't make it, so you need to do more than most." I agree wholeheartedly. Why is it that so many people quit addictions and so few stay quit. I think this is the reason: Going through the steps ( any steps ) is not enough. It's enough to get started. I went at my problems like a rabid badger and I've never stopped. So far ... I'm doing Okay.
What I see people do is do the steps. Take what they see as their medicine and expect to get on with their lives. If it's true that their lives were based on the data they stored, and they all wound up in 12 step rooms, how could getting on with those same lives turn out different? I see, in the numbers, that for around 90% it doesn't. I have also observed that some people can exist in fantasy better than others. What I see more than anything is people that couldn't handle life, as they saw it, when they showed up. Why would they find the same life tolerable a year down the road?
Here is another example: I here people say, "I used to be in charge of my life, but now I have a god in charge and I'll be Okay as long as I remember I'm not in charge". But they are in charge. Were in charge, are in charge and will continue to be in charge. Some of these people - some percentage of the small percentage that stay sober - are able to be Okay in this imaginary state.
Lets say that 90% aren't able to cope with any idea of life they've been presented with so far. Are they mentally unfit to cope? Most of these people have been putting up with difficult situations for many years. Difficult situations which require truly remarkable coping skills. So I think we can eliminate a lack of ability? All the people I've worked with are confused about life. All of them, including me, thought that our problem was simply us. That we lacked something in ourselves and this was causing us to fail.
Of course drinking every day and doing heroin wasn't making my life more manageable. For sure this eventually led to a mental and physical decline. But I wasn't coping with life very well before I found drugs. I had been looking for drugs - I just didn't know it. What if my friend had a different world to live in? Think it not possible? The world we live in is a very recent invention. In some remote parts of the planet the stories we tell would be viewed as what they are: nonsense. All native people thought that the people sailing on to their shores from the European countries were nuts. We civilized people sought to change their minds and show them we had all the answers. If they resisted being convinced we'd just start killing them until they came around. It still happens today.
We've created a crazy world and it makes most of us crazy. As alcoholics and Drug addicts we absolutely must do more than most if we are to survive and remain sober.
I hope the story I told about my friend will give everyone some tips on how to make no progress. It's easy in principle you just accept the stories you're told and fight to keep your head above water. Many look for some magic pill. If you try you can see magic pills everywhere: in people, or prescriptions, gods or any number of things.