Contemplation Hel I’ve written about it before, and probably will again before January rolls around, but regardless of the issues we face at any point in our lives, the usual response is to camp out in “contemplation hell.” Lose weight? Quit smoking? Get married or divorced? Quit or modify drinking habits? Go back to school? Change jobs, professions, careers? Feel free to add your own collection at this point.
If You’re Still Counting I saw someone on Facebook this afternoon enumerating exactly how many years, months, weeks and days they’d spend in AA followed by another count of how many it had been since they left AA. My comment was, “If you’re still counting, you haven’t left yet.” Think about it. Consider something you no longer do that used to occupy a lot of your time and interest but has faded from your life. Do you know down to the minute how long it’s been since you last engaged in it? Of course you don’t. Really, if it isn’t important anymore, why commemorate having once done it.
The Times They Are A-Changin” For some time Mary Ellen and I have been discussing shifting from semi-retirement to actual retirement. Doing so is a bit complicated and requires considerable lead in as we are a corporation, not just two solo practitioners who work together. That said, we have decided to officially close the corporation this coming December 31st. Why announce our decision 6 months early? Some of you have waited months, or years, to decide whether or not you wanted or needed to work with us. Respecting your decision making, we wanted anyone who wanted it, time to reserve a spot before the literal doors close.
Happy Independence Day! “Independence Day” is always a mixed holiday for me. Maybe because I have a tendency to see things from too many points of view. “Independence?” Whose? Certainly not Black slaves, women, Native Americans, or later on, Spanish Californians, Hawaiians, or Alaska Natives. “Independence?” From what? Hmmm, wealthy white privileged Americans from wealthy privileged Brits? All paid for by the same poor boys and families who suffer and die for their “better’s” lifestyle.
Why, Why, Why??? Perhaps the most common refrain we hear from clients (as well as from ourselves occasionally) is “WHY?” It’s perfectly normal to ask this question – and, usually, equally useless. We tell ourselves if only I knew why, then things would be different. Unhappily, even if you could answer the question, it usually fixes nothing. Asking why tends to keep your focus on the past, distracting you from the present, when change occurs, and future which can be altered.
Stuck In the Past When we medicate with alcohol, we experience a number of results, not all of which seem obvious at the time. Most of us, though not all, experience a pleasant “buzz”, feel more relaxed, and some social awkwardness may disappear. Nothing wrong with those “benefits” up to a point.
Back From a Brief Vacation After 15 months of Covid lockdown, preceded by 8 months of knee surgery immobility, I was able to travel for the first time in what seems like forever. I am sure you know the feeling. In some ways it feels like it did that first decade in Alaska when the ice went out on the rivers, daylight was endless, and life shifted from being hunkered down against the cold to life returning in an avalanche of flowering, leafing and nesting.
For the Vast Majority of People, Joining AA is a Detour into a Swamp that is More Difficult to Escape than Alcohol. In working with clients who are attempting to find their way out of AA and other 12 Step based programs, we have noted that their time in AA has made ceasing self-medication more difficult than ever. Why?
Recovered, Not “In Recovery” Many people are unwilling to give up an alcohol-focused life, whether they continue to drink or not. These are the people who refer to themselves as being “in recovery.” It’s one of the biggest upsides to AA – you continue to use alcohol (yes, or drugs) in the form of “meetings” as an escape from responsibility and as a passive (or actively) aggressive punishment against those around you. Except now it’s even better than active drinking because no one gets to complain since you “are working your program” not to mention that you are powerless over your “disease” should you periodically return to active drinking. Talk about a win, win, win for yourself and a stick to beat everyone else with.
With The Pandemic Seemingly Easing… Looking at the “usual suspects” when it comes to self-medication, it’s easy to see why alcohol consumption has grown – at least at home - over the past 16 months: Loneliness – not a lot of time with anyone outside of one’s household, and the concurrent recognition that one can be lonely at home too Boredom – how many jigsaw puzzles and loaves of sourdough bread can you stomach?