Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Shame

      True knowledge is gained through the experiment of living life. I have gained truth about myself and my life from the results of my experience, through the tools that I have acquired and been given, and through the actual consequences of my words, thoughts, and most importantly, my actions. I know what has failed me and what has brought me success. And I can reasonably assume that anyone who shares a similar experience may also experience similar results.
     This is precisely why the Big Book prophetically states that you can rely on anything a [recovered] alcoholic may say about himself. A recovered addict who has gained clarity and success knows himself completely. The reason my experience makes so much sense to me is because I understand who I am, and the more we understand ourselves, the more we understand everything. As I've suggested before, I don't think we are really that complicated. We are essentially just human creatures on earth, sometimes doing good stuff, sometimes doing bad stuff, and sometimes just hangin' out. And given the existential law of cause and effect, you probably wanna try to do more good stuff than bad stuff.    

     In my book, I described the sort of behavior that saved my life as 'spiritual action'. We can't get too bent about word choice because the solution and the knowledge gained through experiential success is very practical, grounded, fact-based (in its purest sense) and time-tested. So when I say spiritual action, I'm not talking about fluff. Spiritual action means moral action, as well as many other practical actions such as prayer, meditation, exercise, work, art, music, creativity and outdoor activities that benefit ourselves, others, and the greater world around us.

     In my previous post, I wrote that our core problem is spiritual. To note, I refer to the totality of my being as spiritual, and thus any disconnection from self, others or God is malady of my spirit (that is, my entire being). At any rate, for those of us who need the fluff taken out, we can easily break down our core problem more practically. Thanks to our friend, Jim, who commented on the nature of our malady as being rooted in deep emotional stuff, some of which lies below the level of our consciousness, as opposed to spiritual. I completely agree, but I simply choose to contemplate my emotional life as my spiritual life. At any rate, he kindly reminds us what our core problem really is, and this is perhaps the most accurate thing I've heard from anyone in years.

     So what is our core problem in simple, layman's terms?

     Shame.

     Human shame [and perhaps sadness] is a universal epidemic. Addicts and alcoholics have no monopoly on shame.

     What are we ashamed of, you may ask?

     Why being human, of course. We are ashamed of our human bodies, for one. We are ashamed of our minds, our thoughts and our feelings, especially our feelings of self-consciousness, insecurity, depression, anger, jealousy, envy, weakness and stupidity. We are ashamed of our feelings of powerlessness, meaninglessness and purposelessness. We are ashamed of our size, our mortality, our past, our future, our frailties, our failures and our insignificance. We are ashamed of our greed, our lust, our gluttony, our cowardice, and the list goes on and on. You get the picture, I'm sure. Being human by definition is a vulnerable condition both internally, externally, and most importantly, spiritually.

     The Big Book says the knowledge of God is in our make-up as human beings. I believe we all know that God Is on some level, even the atheists and the silly agnostics out there. To deny God is really to deny your human being, your existence. And forget about addiction and alcoholism because that, my friends, may be the most precarious position of all.

God, teach me how to better love and accept myself that I may better love and accept others and do Your work well...

4 comments:

  1. Dear Charlie,

    I recently found your blog and bought and read your book. I've left a few anon comments here telling you how much I've learned through your writings. This one really hits home as I am full of shame over my son's addiction. It has been a long 8 year battle that he is still fighting. I should say we are fighting b/c for 8 years we've been trying to help him save his life. I've been a Families Anonymous member for 5 years and I think I've gained more insight here and also in the Big Book than all those years in FA. I sit in meetings and see all the parents entering and so full of shame and it's heartbreaking. For the most part all our sons and daughters have come from fairly privileged backgrounds so we don't understand how things went so terribly wrong for us. Five years ago I started a blog to help me focus on the good in my life but in the blog I've never had the courage to talk about my sons addiction. One, I wasn't sure it was my place to "out" him so publicly but also and most importantly it is the shame of admitting it. So tomorrow I'm going to take a big step and undo some of that shame and do a link to your blog. I'm doing it for me but also for what I'm sure will be hundreds of others that read my blog and could be dealing with addiction. I'm pretty terrified and I'm not even sure as I'm typing this last line that I will hit publish. I will leave it up to you if you decide to publish my comment. Today I put myself on my knees and pray to God and surrender. Much love and kindness...

    Janet

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Janet,

      I can pretty much guarantee that you will be fine and then some by writing from the heart about your son's addiction. In fact, it may heal you and many others in unimaginable ways. If God [i.e. my gut, conscience,] tells me to do something, and I believe it is the right thing to do for myself and for others, I can trust completely in what I'm doing... and I don't look back.

      I also think that you will find a tremendous freedom by sharing what has been kept hidden, for one reason or another. Let me share a link with you below of a post I wrote about becoming an open book, so to speak, and why it has been such a blessing etc.

      God bless you for reaching out and sharing with me. It is a complete honor for me to publish your comment and I wish you hour upon hour of cathartic writing, indeed.

      http://www.privilegedaddictwriter.blogspot.com/2014/05/stigma-nope-im-proud-grateful.html

      Charlie

      P.S. Love your blog, by the way.

      Delete
    2. P.S. I will also be praying for you and your son. And about his addiction, you have nothing to be ashamed of. I promise you ;-)

      Delete
    3. P.P.S. Let me also just quickly address the disappointment and confusion regarding love and privilege. I can guarantee you that both love and privilege are (sadly) irrelevant, so never blame yourself for anything. We addicts are self-created. I think these two posts below address those issues. Bless you, Janet.

      http://privilegedaddictwriter.blogspot.com/2013/10/there-is-no-worse-than.html

      http://privilegedaddictwriter.blogspot.com/2014/06/why-alcoholics-drink-and-addicts-use.html

      Delete