"If Addicts & Alcoholics Always Need to Grow, Do We Ever Really Change Fundamentally?"
I would appreciate some input on the topic of CHANGE. Imo, we recovered alkis never really become different people, our behaviors are different and not self-destructive but my ability to self-destruct, never leaves. I’m still [so and so], just a polished up version. The old adage, once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic see MN s to generically submit the same ideal as mine. If I truly became something or someone totally different, why would I need to enlarge and grow as a recovered alcoholic?
Thanks Charlie for any insight you can offer.
So let’s expand the question to first ask if alcoholics and addicts need to continue working on self all throughout life, and then if so, do we ever really change fundamentally?
Yes and no, but I suspect this is true for everybody, not just addicts, so we must not feel an injustice for having to work on ourselves, for when you measure this against active addiction, it is a small price to pay.
I’ve said many times that there is no neutral position for addicts and alcoholics, that if we are not moving forward and actively growing, we are moving backward. But I also tend to think this is universal. How many friends, relatives, colleagues and acquaintances I have that all operate along a spectrum of spiritual, physical and emotional health, and what moves the needle is either either active self-care or self-neglect, both internally and externally. This is probably just the human condition. Even saints need to work on self, especially since that is how they became saints to begin with.
Many years down the road, the individual tools we may use in an isolated fashion early on hopefully become a part of our everyday life. That is, what we do becomes a living prayer or a living meditation – that is the goal anyway. In this sense, we stop doing so much work, but rather engage naturally with a new way of mindfulness or Godliness that begins to settle in more permanently, integrated into our lives, work, relationships. Believe me, this is no small task. It is a grueling, progressive, layered and lifelong process, and often when we think we have achieved some harmonious middle road, everything comes crashing down. That has well been my own personal experience anyway, and I continuously fail to live up to my own cherished principles with any consistency. I will keep trying though. One thing I do know is that drugs and alcohol will never be a problem for me ever again, so that’s a pretty good deal.
Anyway, I think every activity can become sort of a walking/living prayer or meditation. Playing piano, drums, guitar, violin or the trumpet can be a living prayer or meditation. So can walking in the woods, climbing a mountain or swimming in the ocean. So can exercising or playing sports or going to the gym. So can simply interacting with friends or staying in the moment at work and focusing on the task at hand. So can simply being, breathing, sitting, standing or lying down. Anything and everything we do can be done in a mindful, deliberate or meditative way. When we focus solely on what we are doing without distraction and without wandering off mentally or trying to multi-task like our lives somehow depend on it, we might be at peace with some consistency.
Everybody has heard or seen or perhaps experienced themselves what it’s like to be a musician or an athlete who is “in the zone,” as it were, where the athlete is gracefully and almost effortlessly excelling, or where the music is playing the musician. This occurs when our mind, hearts, bodies and souls are all in harmony, in the moment and completely tuned in. Something greater, something much more intelligent and powerful almost takes over. So we can try (without trying) to move through life this way as well, from moment to moment, task to task, challenge to challenge, without letting our poisoned minds and our emotions get in the way. Everybody, not just addicts, need to repel spiritual darkness. It is all around us.
All this said, I tend to think that truly different people do continuously grow and enlarge their spiritual lives, addict or not. That is how they became that way, through hard work. I suppose the only difference might be that even as changed people, we addicts still retain the physical allergy, but retaining the ability to self-destruct I believe to simply be a human vulnerability, addict or not.
Just think of the endless list of things to fall prey to – from drugs and alcohol, to sex and food, to anger and violence, to depression and fear, to power and control, to money and lack of empathy, to vanity and sociopathology. Look at those who run the country, or the shadow government rather, the 5th column – they are basically evil – self-interested, self-worshiping psychopaths who are disgusted by the common people and those who simply disagree with them. Have not these creatures fallen prey to the ultimate evil – the false and external power of playing God? Have they not become filthy, Godless tyrants?
Finally, anything is possible. I’m sure there have been many such miracles where people with deeply rooted monsters or masochisms (not a word) or maladaptations have rid themselves through and through of even the capacity to crumble back into utter self-destruction or a total lack of goodness and love for others.
Great question. God bless you, my friend. I hope others comment on this…