The first time I saw someone take a 90 day chip, I said: “90 days? Come on. Get off it. No one can go 90 days without a drink. That guy is a fucking liar.” Here are some thoughts for you. The ‘Thoughts for the day’.
The topic I picked from a meeting tonight has to do with thoughts. My therapist has this tool, she calls it Label, Rate, Think. It’s kind of a variation on CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) where you attempt to analyze thoughts and feelings. Her real name for it is Emotional Regulation. I have trouble with it. Usually I’m unaware which came first, the Feeling or the Thought. My therapist says it doesn’t matter really. If you can at least just visualize the feeling and recognize what the feeling made you think you can isolate it and watch it pass. Like a cloud. It passes. This too shall pass. The thoughts and feelings come and go. Just realizing that is half the battle. You know it’s going to morph into some other feeling. Or thought. It kinda goes away. Almost magically all by itself.
Yeah stinkin thinkin. Because of them, the thoughts i mean, sometimes I can’t make decisions. What’s the right decision? what if I’m wrong? I Lose myself in my thoughts. I analyze and analyze. My sister says to analyze is to paralyze. And man sometimes those thoughts are OBSESSIVE Thoughts! They just won’t STOP.
On the day I checked into rehab, I was ready. I’d had enough. Well I thought I’d had enough. It didn’t matter; I checked in and STILL blew a .04. I was half lit. And I’d surrendered, I was checking MYSELF in. Didn’t need an intervention. But was I doing the right thing? I thought I was. I guess I did make a decision at that moment. I was tired and ashamed and guilt ridden and embarrassed. Now those are some feelings!
But what did I THINK about those feelings. I was pissed, er, um angry. Wait that’s a feeling, not a thought. I thought: What an asshole I’ve been. I am a jerk. I’m a worthless piece of shit. What am I doing here? I need another whiskey. Ok, those are thoughts. Were they real? Were the feelings real? At the time I wasn’t thinking about feelings. Wait, does that make sense? Of course it does. I was only thinking about the fact that drinking was not a very good solution. It was however my only coping mechanism at the time. Got a feeling? Got anger? Got resentment? Shame? Guilt? Fear? No, I only had this thought: I really shouldn’t be drinking. It’s fucking up my life.
Do you begin to see how confusing all this psychobabble is? So Thoughts. Here are some thoughts for you: I always did really well in school. Straight A’s. I’m a great thinker. I write software, I’ll get buried in writing code. I’m good at thinking, but my best thinking gets me in some very, very bad situations.
So thoughts, yes, I get obsessed and want to stop the thoughts. I get obsessed and want to stop the feelings too. I get interrupted by the thoughts and I want to stop them. Boy is booze good for that. I don’t go half way either. Go big or go home! Get me the Costco size bottle of Jack Daniels. My enemy Jack always gives me this big warm hug and the thoughts and feelings go away. I guess that’s what I really wanted. No thoughts, no feelings. But wait, isn’t that like death? Well, I was indeed on my way to the morgue eventually. Or worse, I’d be driving drunk and I’d live, but the little girl in the car I would obliterate would also be obliterated. Then I could feel even worse; I’d be a murderer. Ouch! Then what? I’d have to kill myself ‘cuz I wouldn’t be able to live with those feelings of guilt and remorse. Round and round we go.
Talked to a friend while I was in rehab. He is a junkie. He was asking me how much I drank: my reply; oh a quart of Jack a day. He said: whoa, I’m impressed! This from a heroin addict. I guess I was impressed too. What the fuck, over? What was I thinking and what was I feeling. Impressed by heroin addiction and an alcohol habit of a quart a day. That’s 32 ounces; more than a shot an hour over a 24 hour period, but think about it, I was only awake for maybe 16 hours; that’s 2 shots an hour all day long. Not really impressive.
The mental illness factor always bothers me. I think about it all the time. Is alcoholism a mental illness? It sure is crazy, maybe it is. A guy in a meeting said last week that the big book ‘explains’ alcoholism as an allergy. Well, not quite. What the big book DOES say is (From Bill W): “The doctor’s theory that we have an allergy to alcohol interests us.” What the doctor’s opinion in the big book actually states is this: “We believe, and so suggested a few years ago, that the action of alcohol, on these chronic alcoholics is a manifestation of an allergy; that the phenomenon of craving is limited to this class and never occurs in the average temperate drinker.” The italics are mine.
Fine, if you’d like to believe it’s an allergy, I won’t argue with you. Whatever works as an explanation for you will be what it will be. I heard one woman say that she had heard that there were certain organisms living in her digestive tract that needed alcohol to survive and those organisms actually made her act on the triggers and cues she received so they would survive. I don’t care what you think of alcoholism, I think it’s a form of mental illness; an obsession. There are neuroscientists that believe that addiction creates pathways (via dopamine production) that actually supersede the brain’s prime survival directives of finding food, water, shelter and sex. Well, maybe. I don’t care about the direct cause, I only want some help with how to stop drinking until I pass out.
So in the long run I believe thinking and thought actually do me some good. I am so grateful for my therapist, my friends in AA, and some of the spirituality I’ve acquired over the short period of my sobriety. There’s a thought. I’m grateful for what we call ‘these rooms’ in the AA vernacular; meeting rooms. that’s another thought, though it’s kinda describing a feeling. And I know that sometimes I can stop those obsessive thoughts, the hamster running around in my brain, if I breathe in and out and close my eyes and say a prayer.
One could think of saying a prayer as a brief meditation. It interrupts some of those other thoughts. I kinda like the 11th step prayer. And I’ve always liked St. Francis the patron saint of animals. He talks about some weird things for a thinker. Peace, love, forgiveness, truth, faith, hope and joy. Thoughts that give me a little solace and while I’m thinking about those thoughts I stop thinking about other thoughts. It’s a little game I play; but what the fuck, it WORKS! I actually feel connected to the world with these thoughts, er, um, feelings. Connected to that atheistic nemesis we call the higher power. That ugly word that so many of you knuckleheads are loath to mention: God
Sometimes, well, more often lately, those ‘thoughts’ about Peace, love, forgiveness, truth, faith hope and joy actually work better than Jack Daniels. Well sometimes. And what are they really but thoughts about feelings. Round and round we go.
Anyway, I am grateful for AA and ‘these rooms’ and I’m just grateful to be this side of the dirt today. In these rooms, I find other people who get it, who know about the obsession. And without that little connection to what we call our higher power, god as we understood him, my thoughts will do me in.