I always want to point out things I have said in the past or things that I hear all the time that make no sense at all but people say it anyway and other people agree. This is one of those things. "It'll be easier to change later."
Is it easier to climb out of a 1 foot hole or a 2 foot hole or a 15 foot hole. 1 foot simple enough. Is it easier to run 1 miles 2 miles or 15 miles? 1 mile simple enough. Is it easier to quit my addiction after 1 year 2 years or 15 years. 1 the answer is always less is easier. So get out of your addiction now and it will be easier. The longer you wait the harder it will be always. But some people just prefer to plan to change.
*I recently had a friend tell me he has been doing pills for the past year...sad for several reasons. This was his addictions when we met. It's what I think of as a foundation part of our relationship. When I have been tempted to drink I think of him and how I don't want to disappoint him. We have our own addictions. I've never had an issue with pills, I don't take any. He doesn't have a problem with drinking but our addictive minds are the same. He is married, he has a kid. But this paragraph above rings true. He is that much deeper in the addiction hole now. I am so glad I started ten years ago. Now I've practiced not drinking so long its easy. Start today. He hasn't been happy for a while and I wondered why. Its shame and hiding and addiction. Its the cycle of all that that makes you want to use and then using making all that. I'm glad he told me but I hope this is a new start.
I'm reminded of how when you dig a hole all the dirt that comes out because its a mess doesn't fit back in the same hole. This is what addiction is like so stop digging and start filling.
Hoarders have a compulsion to collect positions, they pile up stuff. The stuff may not be sanitary or useful in any way they just have to keep everything. In other words hoards are addicted to stuff. Since this is an addiction I believe all of the concepts that I'm trying to unravel apply.
Some people reading this may be thinking oh good I defiantly don't have a hoarding problem. But all addicts, and we are all addicts, have a compulsion to pile up stuff in our lives. The stuff may not be physical but it is still a bunch of useless things that we hold onto. People will hold on to useless beliefs that just get in the way of progress. We hold on to people that have no use to use. We hold on to our huge list of needs, that are really wants. We watch TV shows about hoarders and say those people are so nasty and then we use their physical mess to help us over look our own emotional, relational, mental or spiritual mess.
What do you tell a hoarder when you want them to change. "Just get rid of all that junk, it's not worth anything." But have you ever heard that in your own life. has anyone ever said "just don't" has a skinny person ever said just don't eat? Has a sober person ever said just don't use? Has a happy person ever said just don't be sad? I have heard these things in my past and every time I found myself thinking this idiot just doesn't know that I need this stuff. I personally never struggled with hoarding physical stuff. But I think people who do are just making their environment look like their inside. When I was depressed I wanted my environment and those around me to be depressed.
Two ideas here. First, you know an addict because you are an addict and second. Try to convince yourself to get rid of the useless stuff in your life physical and emotional, spiritual, relational, and mental. What are you clinging to? Chances are you thought it just then but said to yourself no I don't have to get rid of that I need it. You don't.
*This is good reminder. As I have lost weight I see it as a representation of the unused things that pile up in life and weigh us down. I have gotten rid of the clutter in my life, my thinking. I had no idea that I had so much weight to lose. It is hard to not notice it on others. We all have things to get rid of. Intermittent fasting has taught me to just not consume.
I'm going to tell you a story. The journey out of slavery starts in a cold jail cell with Joe, Tom and Anthony. In the jail their cells are lined up one next to the other.
Joe was put in jail at such a young age that it's all he knows. He has never been outside the cell. Tom remembers the outside world as a harsh and hostel place. It was lonely and fending for himself was hard. Sometimes he gets sick of jail but at least here he has three meals a day, a roof over his head and he is never alone. Anthony was put in jail as punishment for something he had done wrong a long time ago. He still feels so guilty about what he did that he figures he is right where he belongs.
Then a person named Nick comes along and visits the jail. He is happy and has a strange smile like he knows a secret. Nick says "Joe, Tom and Anthony there is a wonderful place called freedom where there are no bars and you can come and go as you please. It is the most wonderful place. That's where I'm from." Each one replied in their own way. Joe excitedly said "I've never been out of this cell that sounds great." Tom replied," I have heard of that place but never really believed it existed. The world I remember was nothing like that." Anthony quickly started to laugh, "There is no place like Nick is a liar and a fool and even if there was a place like that we are locked in these cells. How cruel you are to come here"
"The land of freedom is real and I can take you there." said Nick. "How?" Joe asked. "Reach in your pocket you'll find the key to your cell." replied Nick. "This guy is crazy! There is nothing but dessert out there." yelled Anthony as he turned away and refused to listen anymore. Joe and Tom reached in their pockets and sure enough they each found a key to their cell. Filled with joy they both unlocked their cells and ran out of the jail but before they left Joe yelled back to Anthony "Come on the key is in your pocket!" but Anthony just turned away.
As soon as they got out side Nick started to lead the way through a hot desert. They walked on a wide road with tons of people. Nick kept talking about how great the land of freedom is. Joe and Tom were so glad to be out of their cells. As the days passed and they kept moving Tom asks, "How much further is it? I'm starving and the sun is too hot. You never said it was this far away and if there is a land of freedom what are all these people doing here." Nick replied, "These people could come too if they wanted to but we just have to keep moving." More time went by and Tom finally yells, "Forget this! Anthony was right even the jail was better than this dessert." Then Tom turned back and started walking toward the jail.
"It's just a little bit further just down this narrow road." said Nick. Joe tired out didn't say anything but he kept walking. Then all of a sudden the dessert faded away and there was the land of freedom in all its beauty. A wonderful place but only a few people. "That cell seems so far away. I can't believe I'm here." said Joe. "I'm glad you trusted me." said Nick as they both sat down to relax.
Addiction is imprisonment. Whatever reason a person is in a cell time goes by and as it does a person in jail becomes institutionalized. This means people get used to the cell and are comforted by it because they know what to expect from it. In this story everyone did what they wanted, when they wanted to. The only question was did they want freedom or not. Are you Joe, Tom, Anthony or one of the people in the desert?
This a simple story and yes it's the exodus or the Christ archetype but it also shows how we get institutionalized. Since this was written 8 years ago I have learned a lot about the brain. All brains are wired to choose function over truth. Or easy over difficult. It is a good way to not waste resources but if the easy is destructive then resources will be wasted. This where we have to choose the short term or the long term and the answer to that question is it depends.
If the long term has a greater return than the cost of short term pain then good. If not then bad.
This sounds simple but so many of our decisions are subconscious where we hand the decision over to our bodies and give up our conscious mind. This can be detrimental.
Pick your battles wisely.
Addictive behavior starts as symptom treating. I'll say it again because this is the thing that everyone involved in a struggle where it be with food, porn, drugs or any number of other addictions needs to realize. Addictive behavior starts as symptom treating also called self medicating. It doesn't stay that way. as the addiction gets stronger the initial cause seams to fade away and many times that is just what the person wants.
Let's say your father was verbally abusive to you as a child and because of this you feel bad. You may start an addictive behavior that makes you feel good. So we have cause (father problem) symptom (feel bad) and a choice. Do I treat the cause and deal with the problem with father or do I go for the quick fix and treat the symptom. Addictive behavior treats the symptom while you are doing the addictive behavior. The problem is that when you're not doing the addictive behavior the cause (father problem) is still there along with new problems that come with the addiction. Go to the cause and the symptoms will be unnecessary. The substance is used as a coping mechanism for your past abuse, trauma or unmet expectations. Got to the cause to remove the addiction.
* It's a rainy morning here in California and that doesn't happen very often. The rain is so refreshing. As I read the section above I think about addiction, how far I have come but also that addiction is tied to some type of dis function or destructiveness. Someone could make a good case for me know being addicted to health but that isn't destructive so It's no problem. Anything can become destructive but it also very much depends on what the person themselves what. I am not interested in what society thinks is healthy as culture is very rarely concerned with operating from a place of reason & intelligence verses social and emotional values. Quantity verses quality. The more amazing you become the less you will connect with those that are not acting in an amazing way. Can't have both. Do what you want, be who you want.
In this concept I'm talking about a crying baby. When a baby cries the loud noise is a problem. You could solve the problem of the noise by covering your ears so you don't hear it. No more noise problem solved. But this would be treating the symptom problem and not the cause problem. The other way to remove the symptom problem (the crying) is to stop and ask the baby why it is crying. The baby is probably not going to answer to you will have to do an investigation. You will have to think. You will defiantly have to spend more time and energy than just covering your ears. But if you care about the baby you will ask yourself does the baby need food or changed or to be held? You have to go through and start to meet all these needs and how will you know when you've found the right one, No more crying. The cause problem (let say hunger) is solved so the symptom problem (the noise) is no longer necessary.
This seems simple enough but what do we do when we have a headache. We take a an pain reliever. but the head ache is a symptom. The pain reliever is the just like covering your ears to the baby. It is a symptom. Instead we need to ask ourselves about the cause of the headache. Am I dehydrated, or mineral deficient? Have I been staring at a computer screen too long? There could be any number of causes but you have to care enough about your head to do the work to fix the cause and the symptom goes away. I am repeating this concept because I see in my own past and in the lives of others around me symptom treating. Here is another example but this time I'll use an action instead of a physical thing. Lying is a symptom of unappealing truth. If the truth was better the lie is unnecessary.
*This idea applys most to health as people often correlate symptoms with the illness itself. One came from the other so it is subject to the other. Remove the illness and the symptoms will go away. This is a tough thing as correlations are often correct but I tell people most wounds have band aids on them so if we outlaw bandages we'll get rid of wounds? of course not but it is difficult to search deep enough to find out what issue is subject to the other. In my life I have had different people go away and realized after the fact how negative or exhausting they were to deal with and didn't know at the time. Some people bring out the best in us and others make things difficult. it's difficult to know if the person is the problem or the situation that you are in with the person.
My big take away for the day is to step back and try to take my time to figure out what is the wound and what is the bandage.
This concept really unfolded for me when I was listening to my wife describe a person with a speech problem. She explained that when people are about one or two it is the best time to learn new languages. As we get older we start to hold on to the language that we use and it becomes increasingly difficult for us to learn new languages. Our hearing becomes so in tune with what we know we don't even hear what we don't know. So the person with the speech problem actually had a hearing problem. His brain had never learned certain sounds so of course he can't replicate a sound he can't hear, hence the speech problem.
This is the same problem we have in other parts of our lives. We are so in tune with what we have learned that we stopped being able to even hear what we haven't. So those who have ears let them hear. The idea is that not everyone does. Some people have an ear for music and others don't the sounds are the same it is the listener that changes.
If you want change in your life you will have to work hard to unlearn what you think you know so that you can then replace it with what you don't. This starts with listening. So listen close. A free person starts as a listening slave.
*This is interesting to me for a few reasons. One because it mentions my wife and I haven't been married for some time and two because unlike some of the other ideas in this writing this one I had forgotten about. I have gotten very interested in neuro plasticity since the time this was written. I am always trying to find out what I can change in myself and what is a permeant fixture. For some time I was amazed at how much can change but that has brought me back to the things that I have to accept and knowing the difference. Brains change over time so I have tried to build a more long term plan for myself. Fr a long time I had a short term, survival mentality and when you are in that mode there is no margin to plan long term. I thought that either I would die or the world would end and we would all die. Now I have made it through so much I tend to watch the thoughts of doom come and go. I still have a sense of anxiety in my day to day life that is far too constant but I have learned to sit with it. I remind myself that everyone who has thought the world would end has been wrong. Or at least the entire world. People who bet on nature overcoming tend to win. With 5G coming and that being my biggest concern (it seems no one worried about global warming doesn't know anything about 5G) but I trust that a solution will follow the problem.
I have to start to listen for the things my brain hasn't been programed to hear in order to take things to the next level. We'll see.
Grieving Process -
Denial — "I feel fine."; "This can't be happening, not to me."
Denial is usually only a temporary defense for the individual. This feeling is generally replaced with heightened awareness of situations and individuals that will be left behind after death.
Anger — "Why me? It's not fair!"; "How can this happen to me?"; "Who is to blame?"
Once in the second stage, the individual recognizes that denial cannot continue. Because of anger, the person is very difficult to care for due to misplaced feelings of rage and envy. Any individual that symbolizes life or energy is subject to projected resentment and jealousy.
Bargaining — "Just let me live to see my children graduate."; "I'll do anything for a few more years."; "I will give my life savings if..."
The third stage involves the hope that the individual can somehow postpone or delay death. Usually, the negotiation for an extended life is made with a higher power in exchange for a reformed lifestyle. Psychologically, the hi is saying, "I understand I will die, but if I could just have more time..."
Depression — "I'm so sad, why bother with anything?"; "I'm going to die . . . What's the point?"; "I miss my loved one, why go on?"
During the fourth stage, the dying person begins to understand the certainty of death. Because of this, the individual may become silent, refuse visitors and spend much of the time crying and grieving. This process allows the dying person to disconnect oneself from things of love and affection. It is not recommended to attempt to cheer up an individual who is in this stage. It is an important time for grieving that must be processed.
Acceptance — "It's going to be okay."; "I can't fight it, I may as well prepare for it."
This final stage comes with peace and understanding of the death that is approaching. Generally, the person in the fifth stage will want to be left alone. Additionally, feelings and physical pain may be non-existent. This stage has also been described as the end of the dying struggle.[
Kübler-Ross originally applied these stages to people suffering from terminal illness, and later to any form of catastrophic personal loss (job, income, freedom). This may also include significant life events such as the death of a loved one, divorce, drug addiction, an infertility diagnosis. Kübler-Ross claimed these steps do not necessarily come in the order noted above, nor are all steps experienced by all patients, though she stated a person will always experience at least two. Often, people will experience several stages in a "roller coaster" effect - switching between two or more stages, returning to one or more several times before working through it.
Significantly, people experiencing the stages should not force the process. The grief process is highly personal and should not be rushed, nor lengthened, on the basis of an individual's imposed time frame or opinion. One should merely be aware that the stages will be worked through and the ultimate stage of "Acceptance" will be reached.
*I used to spend a lot of time thinking about this. Where are you in this process? Where am I? Once your in acceptance the issues just fall off. Like when you are sick you feel terrible but once your well you don't feel amazing you kind of feel right. Depending on the issue I can think that i am in each phase of the grieving process all at the same time.
Some things we hold on to so that they won't float away. Now I know that this just keeps going and I am grateful for the things I've work through but also know why I held on to them. We keep the lows to hold onto the highs. eventually we get board with the roller coaster and get off of coarse then we get board not being on the roller coaster. Before you ever get off the roller coaster you think...maybe this will last forever, innocence. Then as time goes on you learn that it won't.
Now I spend a lot of time thinking about an equal trade innocence for wisdom. I find my self a bit low on innocence to trade these days. I no longer think I can improve things I can just change them. The change then becomes the indirect improvement. The universe only has one problem and that is boredom. All the things we think are good or bad or important or worthless are all just solutions for this boredom problem.
There are some big concepts in here that I could write about for a long time. dualism painted on time and the core universal problem being boredom. Don't believe me about the boredom problem it's how we imagine death. No wonder we fill the void of nothingness with heaven and hell because both are more appealing to us than conscious eternal boredom. Both have an opposite. If you don't know about heaven in hell than it stops being hell and vice versa. the contrast is the only thing that makes it bad. Nothingness is our ultimate fear.
The future is uncontrollable, we make expectations based on our past experiences and core beliefs along with our current situation. We expect to be able to use substances/ food/ dishonesty and any number of other negative concepts in the future if it has worked as a coping mechanism in the past.
Every time our expectations don’t match up with reality no matter how big or small they are we have the potential to have a very negative reaction. We grieve our unmet expectations. The person that we expect to be exists in our minds and when we end up not being the person that we expected the future self that existed in our mind dies and we have to grieve him.
If you wake up in the morning and put on a shirt you expect that you will end the day in that shirt. You make a cup of coffee and accidentally spill it on your shirt. At this moment the end the day in that shirt expectation dies and you enter into the grieving process you may move to anger or depression. You can then have this incident ruin your whole day or week or however long it takes you to get to a point of acceptance. At this point you realize you have no control over a past event so you move on. You no longer stuck in anger or depression or any other part of the grieving cycle. The danger is when your expectations are not met over and over again you may start to expect bad things to happen to you. Then you are trapped because either bad things happen and your prepared for them because you are expecting them so no grief or good things happen but you are so focused on the bad that a good thing would be outside of your expectations and you would actually grieve your unmet negative expectations.
People that struggle with anger or depression and remain there for a significant amount of time are trapped in the grieving cycle. There is only one way out of the grieving cycle and that is through the door of acceptance. You can't escape it any other way. Guess what other ways people try to get out through, their struggles. But when they choose the struggle they expect to get out of the grieving process. Struggle doesn't take them out but further in. This leaves them with a new dead expectations and still trapped in grief but now they are pulling around a big heavy bag of struggle, and that is a big burden.
*I used to think about the grieving cycle a lot. Mostly because I was in it. I think the older we get time forces us out of our expectations. When I wrote this I thought that I was supposed to be further along, making more money and being more successful. Now I see the cost of all of it and I can't go back. Now I know how much work the ideas I had are and how small the real pay off is. I let other people put pressure on me to have and do more. Now that my life is my own I can embrace the simplicity of it all.
We are what we say we are. You define you or you let others define you but either way you are defined. That means that at some point in struggle a person starts to identify himself as a person who struggles and what do people who struggle do they struggle. If someone lies to you and you say " you are such a liar" they will probably start to identify themselves as a liar and what do lies do...they lie. A better response is this. When someone lies to you say you are an honest person why would you choose to lie. This shows the person that they are acting in conflict with their identity and they have chosen to lie and therefore could have chosen not to.
This applies even more to how we choose to define ourselves. We may say to our self you are so stupid, self. You are then defining yourself as stupid and stupid people make bad decisions. Start to realize that the first step in changing from one type of person to another is the choice to change the identity, the choice to change your name from struggler to victor from stupid to wise.
It is very difficult to change but it is so much easier once you have changed to remain changed. By saying that you are something different you can then start to become something different. Now notice that I said the first step in change not the only step. If you stop that this first step you will be smack in the middle of denial. This concept like every concept can be twisted. That is only done by the person that does not want to change. These people will not find freedom. The freedom and power that come with change are only found by people who look for them. Finding involves seeking. If you are reading this you are seeking. Welcome to the club, the seekers who find club.
* It is very interesting for me to look back and see how different I am from when this was written and at the same time how much has remained the same. I have changed so much but I have submitted to many things that I realize make me me. This is a tricky game, to figure out what to burn down and what to build up. At some undeterminable point a person ceases to be them self. I immediately think people with severe Alzheimer's. The family that is no longer recognized that the person isn't there but clearly some parts of them are.
All lines are arbitrary. When are we human? When are we alive? When are we dead? All these questions depend. If a line is drawn then it can be picked apart and criticized, why not a little more, why not a little less. I didn't mean to go this direction but arbitrary lines are something I think about a lot. They are silly but at the same time we can't start playing the life game until the lines are drawn.
When I am changing at what point do I stop being the person I once was? Thinking about brains, about amnesia, about mental illness and addiction, about how we can never really be known, about how strange life is and how the only way I can make sense of any of it is to think about fractals, infinite cyclical variation and repetition. How strange to be alive.
Some people realize they have a problem and then try to control the thing they are struggling with. Most of the time this control comes from a love for the that causes the struggle. I have struggled with alcohol personally so I'll use it as my example. An alcoholic may get into this frustrating pattern of thought. I need to keep drinking. I need money to buy alcohol to keep drinking. I need a job to get money to keep drinking. That is the thinking but this is what happens. The person likes to drink. They go to work. They get paid so now they can buy alcohol. They drink the alcohol which makes it harder to go to work. Which makes it harder to get paid. Which makes it harder to get alcohol. So the pattern goes on. This is when the person realizes they need control. They have to limit the alcohol in order to have the alcohol. This is a difficult concept. I want to have alcohol and drink it too.
When control fails the alcoholic begins to get creative. Working to get money to drink makes it hard to drink so are there other alternatives. Can I lose my job and collect unemployment? Can I get on disability? Can I steal money? Can I get a job at a bar so that I can get paid in alcohol? Can I find a way to make allot of money at one time? Can I find an enabler to provide for me?
Another way that the person may try to control the struggle in order to hold onto it is to let it go for a time. The thinking here is that if I can quit for a week or a month than I will be able to prove to myself and others that I'm not a entrapment to it. This is usually a goal that the addict tells no one about so that when an excuse comes up there is no shame or failure socially, only personally. To make this control easier the person may try switching struggles for a time. While the person is taking a break from the preferred struggle.
Some people can maintain a functional struggle position for a long time even years. They are able to hide the truth and spike back and forth from diet to binge, from a little to allot. The person that is able to function with struggle often has a harder time getting free. They don't hit rock bottom for so long and as time passes the chance of them changing goes down. These people desperately need someone to help them come to a place of honesty. The person still lacks all the positive characteristics that are found in freedom.
The path of struggle can take a long time or things can fall apart all at once. The important thing to know is that only the person can decide when they are tired of being trapped. Only the sick can decide when to treat the disease.
*This seems so far away. Having not had a drink in so long it's tough for me to remember the desperation the focus on it. The real creativity it takes to be a functional addict. I have always been a strategist. Only after I quit drinking did things fall apart for me. When I was drinking I was buying and selling houses, I was married, I wasn't healthy but didn't have any major health issues. Only after did I loose the houses, the wife and got very sick. I think I always knew that if I stopped juggling plates they would crash to the floor and they did. The addiction was the only thing that kept them all in the air but the debts I wracked up as a drinker had to be paid sooner or later. No forgiveness when karma has built up. I'm glad that I have paid off that karma and now I'm free of it. - side note- this is wehy I have an issue with anything focused on forgiveness where the debt is paid for us, I learned that I needed to pay my own debt the best I could to forgive myself but that is probably an different post.
I do realize that removing addiction from my mind has made me very harsh on people who won't change. This makes sense since I can never give myself a break it's hard to give others a break. At the same time the issues that others have they don't view as addictions just things they love that aren't good for them. maybe its sugar maybe it self deprecating statements to avoid the reality of the need to change. For me the only thing that really gives me these thoughts is coffee as I love it and I know it makes me anxious and that I shouldn't drink it. Trying to learn moderation with it. Since the all or nothing mentality has made moderation difficult for my mind I have to factor it in to cycles like only one cup a week on a day off. I realize that I had to learn extreme nothing before moderation so that I wouldn't apply moderation to alcohol and even now it's tough for me to think about. if I can master moderation could I apply it to alcohol? I answer that question by telling myself if i ever want one beer I'll have one but I never wanted one. I'll put the question off and spend the next ten years learning moderation through cycles. better to toy with coffee than anything that is really destructive. Of coarse all this stuff applies to thoughts and not just behaviors, depression, anger, sadness, loneliness, shame all sorts of non tangible destructive ideas that we are addicted to.
I was an Alcoholic
This blog contains many of the ideas that helped me to get sober and stay sober.
Everything in Italics is me now, commenting on the writing from 10 years ago. Everything not in Italics is the 8 year old writing. In some ways I am the same but in others very different that is what make it interesting.
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