A LESSON IS REPEATED UNTIL LEARNED.
A lesson will be presented to you in various forms until you have learned it. When you have learned it, you can then go on to the next lesson.
Why on earth would anyone choose to experience substance abuse? The very words are rather silly and far too general to address the reality of that phrase. Nobody sets out to become addicted. The original intention was to seek an easing of an inner pain, whether it be physical, mental, emotional or spiritual. It begins with an attempt to alleviate that very pain by alcohol, drugs, food, sex, smoking, movies, books, and any other form or substance we can find to hide behind.
This is a time when we break down all aspects of being human into neat, tidy definitions that act as shorthand for who we are, where we have been, where we are going and what we will do when we get there. We are not trained to deal with pain within ourselves. We are accustomed to treating symptoms, not cause. It is always astonishing to people first entering therapy just how long a cure can take. After all, how much time did it take you to build up those blisters and calluses that cover the void and emptiness inside – the slights, the fears each and every single one of us carries within.
Why then are we so taken aback that it takes work to create balance?
So far, this workbook has consisted mainly of questions, some of which are designed to catch you up, create discomfort, jog you out of habitual thought patterns. I am hoping to awaken the dragon within you that is longing to be and mean more at the end of your days than just a piece of dust. With the leaps and bounds the fields of science and medicine are making, we are bound to be living a heck of a lot longer than originally anticipated. While nobody said life was fair, neither did they say it had to be a drudge!
Each substance is a form of a weapon – it creates distance from yourself and/or from others. One question might be what is it giving you? This is not lightly asked.
Drinking can be a quick shortcut to nerve endings, so you feel more relaxed, softened, or given a false sense of courage. Smoking, as harmful as it is physically, encourages deep breaths. It also ensures a certain amount of isolation, a guaranteed break from routine if you are not allowed to smoke where you work. A few minutes of quiet time. Could you create that as a non-smoker? Of course, you could – would you? As an addiction, smoking guarantees you will take those breaks. How about eating – with our current emphasis on creating a homogenous form of humanity, anyone too thin or too plump is questioned about being anorexic or incapable of control.
Substance abuse is a form of rebellion and it can destroy you and/or the lives of those around you. It can also be a momentary weapon taken up in self-defense.
Twelve step programs began with Alcoholics Anonymous and now they range from Narcotics Anonymous to Neurotics Anonymous, all the way to being over or under sexed.
It is important if substance abuse is a problem to understand why it began in the first place – the parameters. There is no question that the substance takes on a life of its own. Why did we pick it up in the first place? Does that reason still exist or has it become a habit, an armor?
The very reason that Alcoholics Anonymous works is that it is based on the highest form of self honesty possible. Without that, no matter how simple a start, i.e., an acknowledgment that there is a problem in the first place – there is no going forward.
To be continued… Rule No. 5 coming up next.
Note: This is part of the AWOL Manual, “When to Lay the Weapons Down,” copyrighted 1995, renewed 2008