What’s Your Normal?
On the first morning that you work with us, we note that we “do not spend a lot of time mucking around in the past,” but spend our time together exploring where you are now, where you want to be, and how are we going to get you there?
Considering that, there is one aspect of your history that does need to be taken into account.
All of us grow up in families with varying degrees of dysfunction. Most of you who find yourselves working with us come from childhoods that stray far from anything that resembles a Norman Rockwell “normal.” But what does that have to do with our alcohol abuse?
The interesting thing about “normal” is that we each harbor our own unique version, a version we acquired by osmosis as we were growing up. Regardless of whether we were raised by drunks, psychopaths, narcissists, wolves, or worse, that environment and those traits become part of our internalized normal.
Additionally, no matter how much we hated it, and vowed to escape, there remains the unconscious attraction to the familiar – what we refer to as the “security of familiar miseries.”
If we are going to really escape our roots, and we can, we first need to know what that hidden, personal normal is, how it varies from societal norms, how that effects our drinking habits, and how awareness – not history – can direct our decision making.
Sound like a tall order and years of psychoanalysis?
That is one approach and I have a friend who has spent 35 years going to weekly sessions with his analyst who assures him that they are about to make a “breakthrough.” What do you think the chances are? About as good as recovering through AA?
Happily, there is a much quicker, easier, and more effective route.
The one piece of formal assessment we do with you is Dr. Jane Loevinger’s Washington University Sentence Completion Test. Dr. Loevinger developed the test between 1950 and 2000 and it is essentially a measure of maturity.
She also did something else that no one did before or, for the most part, since. As a by-product of her studies, she defined “normal.” With that accidental aside, she made it possible to measure just how far, and in what ways, we may have strayed from that standard as a result of our childhood experiences.
“So what?” you may fairly ask.
And the answer is that straying too far is a very common cause of loneliness, boredom, and isolation which, in turn, are powerful causes of alcohol abuse. “So what?” indeed.
How does your “normal” compare?
How skewed are your perspectives? Values? Reactions? Responses?
How do you become more self-aware?
How do you address loneliness and isolation?
How do you accept and exploit your own individual idiosyncrasies and eccentricities?
How do you stop self-medicating and return to living?
There are answers to these questions and concerns and they don’t require rocket science or years of therapy. They take – surprise, surprise – about 5 days of concentrated individual focus and 12 weeks of support.
But you can always opt for decades of drinking, analysis, or “being in recovery,” but never actually getting anywhere. Stay secure in your familiar miseries if you prefer. But if it’s time to play with other possibilities…..