So I was reading a blog posting the other day about Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) which I found to be rather interesting. Should you want to read it here you can do so. To give a brief synopsis, the posting goes through several myths or issues with the general AA program. I’m not sure if I totally agree with them and thought I’d make a post following my last one about addiction as a bit of a rebuttal or commentary on the myths that this other posting expresses.
One “myth” that the posting suggests exists is that you have to “hit bottom” in order to get well. I think it is true the addict has to hit a low point or else you have to often have something give you a jolt that says how they are living needs to change and your life will be BETTER if you change. It does not necessarily have to be becoming homeless or living in a cardboard box because they cannot afford anything else. It just has to be something in their life’s experience that is not something they’re willing to live with anymore and thus shows them that making changes in their life is beneficial for them, their social network, and perhaps their community at large in some way. Maybe I am wrong, but it seems to me that something that jolts the addict out of distorted thinking and minimization or denial is necessary for snapping back into reality to realize that change is beneficial or necessary.
I was watching an episode of Lindsay on OWN the other day which is a documentary series following Lindsay Lohan in her path to recovery and re-establishing herself in her professional life/community. Her coach for the first 30 days with regard to her addictions was seen talking to the camera stating that addiction is a “self-centered thinking disease” which rang true to me. It seems to me that addicts are so focused on how they are feeling and whether they need their substance or behavior of which they are addicted to in order to feel comfortable. They need to focus on what they need in order to feel satisfied or comfortable in their lives. Thus I feel there is some merit to insinuating a selfishness of an addict. That is not to say that the soul or being of the addict is intrinsically selfish, but it is to say they are so enmeshed within their ego that they cannot see beyond themselves necessarily, and thus “hitting bottom” allows them to break free from ego enmeshment and begin to see others and how their focus on themselves has had a negative effect on the broader community. Their higher self is freed from the shackles of the addiction to see all that it has done that the ego enmeshment tried to hide over time.
That brings me to another myth in the post: “You must surrender your will to get well.” I suppose that can be taken in different ways, but the way I see it is to surrender ego enmeshment to the higher self so that the higher being within us or that manifestation of the higher being that lives in each individual at a soul level is able to see the damage that is done to the body, to the possessions, the families and the community. Upon surveying the damage, admitting to it and showing some kind of remorse for actions is helpful to others to see that the addict really is not selfish in essence, but their addiction was a result of being so enmeshed with their ego that they had no ability to truly perceive much beyond themselves and their needs or desires. It allows the addict to make amends with all things and people in their lives. It allows the process of forgiveness and letting go of the past to happen because their is no longer a need to hold on to anything or to grasp at straws to find ways that the egoic self can survive and profit. It does not have to be overly religious as I perceive it, not by any means. It might be spiritual, but I did not have to use the religious terms for any form of higher power in order to write my explanation for this point about AA to be deemed important to the process. Surrendering is not to say that the individual is incapable of managing their life and therefore need to sit back and put their feet up while the universe takes control and makes everything happen in the world. In fact, it might be a God or the universe that is responsible for pulling families and communities through when an addict has a position of power or some high level of status. Perhaps God comes in for those people when they have no other choice in their understanding as a way to do anything with the situation. The addict might just be surrendering their ego enmeshment so that they realize how difficult it is for others to have coped with the monstrosities that they had to endure due to the addiction.
I’m not sure whether counting days of abstinence is necessarily useful. It doesn’t necessarily have to mean you go back to zero days when you have a bad day or week of relapsing. It could, in fact, be empowering to consider how far the addict went in life between relapsing periods. Perhaps their first time being clean they lasted 1 year, the second period following their first relapse lasted 5 years. It would be a means of showing the addict they are improving. They are able to go further and further every time they focus on being clean and sober.
I’m not a fan of labels, and lumping all addicts into a category such as “drunks” may only make them feel more self conscious or feel less confident in being who they are and having comfort in being themselves. I’ve known people who have indicated that some AA groups are not for them, that they found themselves denying that some AA group could help them because the members of the group simply did not fit with who the individual was or is. They need a group that has people in it who are like them, who they might aspire to be like in order to know that it is a right fit for them. Perhaps a bunch of homeless people who do not appear likely to be a university professor would not be appropriate for a hard working addict that simply wants to achieve more of a status in life but feels unable to do so. That individual might feel more at home in a community of AA members who include someone like a mayor or government official, a university professor, someone who is admitting to not being able to handle things in their life and is involved with a substance or behavior that is done repetitively by them and is thus an addiction. This point in the myths post also suggests that the term “drunks” implies addicts are pleasure seekers which I’m arguing their ego is, their enmeshment with their ego makes them seem like pleasure seekers but that isn’t necessarily what they are or who they are at a soul level or necessarily what their higher self is and they may not be so enmeshed with their ego that that other part of themselves isn’t able to show through at times. It very well can show through, but just not all the time.
When I read the myth about things being one day at a time, I couldn’t help but consider Eckhart Tolle. There really is only the present moment, so taking things one day at a time or one moment at a time is all you can do because there is no way to really live in the future. We make it up as we go in the moment. There is no benefit to living in the past. It’s done and unalterable. We can have regrets, but we might as well forgive ourselves and others for these where it helps because beating ourselves up over something that happened 10 years ago has no positive effect on the present moment other than to fuel negative emotions. I don’t think the one day at a time approach is intended at all to be demeaning to addicts. The ego enmeshed self might take offense to the approach of one day at a time, but that’s an egoic defense mechanism to give and keep power within the ego. It is nothing more or less than that.
Depending how you look at an approach to healing of any kind, whether it’s healing addiction, or healing physically or any other way. The intent of the process is important to perceive correctly in order to understand how it all works. If it is not perceived correctly, it will be misinterpreted and the perceiver will be unable to comprehend the process from the misinterpreted view point quite likely. Perhaps I am off my rocker, and totally view Alcoholics Anonymous and its way of be as different from my perception to what it really is as Pluto is different from Earth.
I’ve been hearing reports about the surviving Boston Bomber being treated in hospital for gunshot wounds which include one to his neck that limits his ability to speak. I find it interesting that in the same reports, they mention he is charged with something that can carry the death penalty. I guess they need him in reasonable health so he can communicate through legal proceedings, but it seems inconsistent to heal and then put to death an individual, does it not?
I find the question “Why do I blog?” an interesting one. I blog, I guess, because I enjoy writing and it gives me a place to get my ideas out there, see if anyone has comments about it to get me thinking more on the topic and just be able to put it out there so it’s not ruminating in my mind anymore.
The whole getting it out there might be the main purpose for writing for me. It’s therapeutic and allows me to put ideas out in a different way, sharing as much or as little about my life as I desire to do on any given topic. It may or may not contribute to a career. It may or may not have much influence in anyone else’s lives. But it is worthwhile for the self to put out those ideas that flow through the fingers.
“On days like this there are no Republicans or Democrats—we are Americans, united in concern for our fellow citizens.” -President Obama, in the wake of Boston Marathon bombing – April 15, 2013
“The era of hyphenated liberals ends right here, right now. Tonight.” – Justin Trudeau, leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, in a speech following the announcement that he won around 80% of the vote for leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada, April 14, 2013
Firstly, I am shocked and saddened by the events of today. It is horrible to see so much violence happening in the world throughout history and in recent times. But the above recent statements got me thinking about what is at the core of such violence, hatred, and negative behavior in the world.
I found it interesting to note similar statements being made by politicians in two different countries in two completely different situations. One of the statements being made in reference between political parties and the other in reference to interactions within a political party. Both statements speak of uniting together as one, in a common purpose, to make positive things happen.
One might come from a victory of a party leader, and the other might come in the wake of a terrible tragedy, but both have a great message in their statement within speeches directed at their respective situations within the last 20 some odd hours.
It calls into question why do we separate ourselves from each other? Why do we have terrorists, citizens, and victims? Why do we have reds and blues, greens, yellows, oranges and others? Are we not all one under the umbrella of the human race?
That being said, I do fight battles whether within or outside of myself where I find myself pitted against someone or something generally somehow. I am not superhuman or above others. But I like to think I can come to terms with my differences from others and realize that in the end, unity reigns above all else.
But I wonder, is this kind of thing about separation vs. unity at the root of our issues in the first place, or is there something else at the core completely?
Who am I? Who do I want to be? I did write about this kind of, in my last post which happens to have been way off on October 14, 2012. Sorry about the wait, for any faithful followers I might have. But even if I have no faithful followers, so be it! Fortune and fame have their perks; they feed the ego perhaps, allowing more and more gain. That is, at least until their downfalls, which are seen from some who reach certain levels of fame and fortune. I’ll let you name examples, should you choose.
Anyhow, I’ve been thinking for weeks about writing another blog post. Christmas holidays seemed like a good time to work on writing one, and I did write. I wrote a matter of maybe a sentence or two. But there was a lot going on over the weeks with family and whatnot. And let me tell you, where I spent the holiday was plenty busier than the place I tend to reside ever gets! And, being that I’m an introvert, this might surprise you, but I enjoyed it! However, I had times of uneasiness knowing I’d be asked what I was up to and where I’m going with my life. It’s kind of To Be Determined, you could say. I have a few things going on, but I’m not sure that the things that have been happening are what I want to potentially have going on in my life for the next potential 80+ years. But for that matter, I could potentially have a day or less to live and therefore one year let alone 80 or more would be irrelevant. Still, thinking of the future is good; I can have goals and have steps to take toward reaching said goals. No one said I can’t live now, and have a vision for the future. Even if they did, who am I to just do as what someone else says? I admire those who don’t, so I can be one of them too, can’t I? Sure, I respect the concerns of others who care and who want the best for me. I’m open to other ideas, and maybe they’re right for me or maybe not. I can try them out, see what happens. Ultimately I little control over what happens, barring my own effort toward the making or breaking of it.
This reminds me of a line I’ve been told multiple times, that goes something like this: “You do the natural, God will do the supernatural.” Whether you call it God, the Divine, the Force, magic (though it’s kind of different than what many people would call magic), or anything else; there seems to be something from beyond that has a way of working things out sometimes. It’s not really explainable, it just is. It works with you. So, let’s just do this. It may or may not lead to anything or accomplish anything, but it might be the best thing I ever did too, time will tell. Time is quite powerful, isn’t it?
I thought that, today, it would be fitting to somehow acknowledge Michael Jackson on the anniversary of his birth, his 54th birthday. Though he may not be here in physical form anymore, being that he had the public following which he did, there is much that he left behind, from his creations to the perceptions of others as well as what you may call his teachings or ideas on life. He had the ability to show these ideas through the creation of music, performance, and short films throughout his life (as well as the occasional book and/or interview/speech). In looking at things that he and others have said I found the following:
The media first turned the trial into a freak-show by emphasizing Jackson’s peculiarities rather than his humanity, and stoked the ratings with constant, trivializing coverage while other, far more important stories went under-reported or completely ignored in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, North Korea, and Washington, D.C. The press might respond by saying, ”We gave the people what they wanted.” My response would be, ”My job is to give them what they want. When he steps into a recording studio, it’s Michael Jackson’s job to give them what they want. Your job is to give the people what they need.”
What an interesting excerpt from a piece written by Stephen King around Michael Jackson and his trial to fight off allegations of child abuse! It looks to me like it really sets the record straight on what goals belong to which professional in the public arena. Those who are intended to entertain, strive to give the public (to which they are entertaining) what that public wishes to see. Those who are intended to bring forth world events on a regular basis (such as news media) are intended to give the people facts and news about the events going on around the world.
One could argue that the facts were being presented by news media as necessary pursuant to their roles. However, my impression was often that there was some level of suggestion in many reports that had some implication of guilt on the part of Michael Jackson, long before the jury had any say in the matter. Kind of unfortunate for it to be that way; what sells is what’s news, apparently.
From my perspective, Michael Jackson had the right idea:
Just because it’s in print doesn’t mean it’s the gospel.
He even had a song about it, Tabloid Junkie. Anything can be said or written; the more bizarre, sensational or just plain “out there” the better it sometimes seems as far as sales and public interest. I was rather shocked to see one particular story reported on CNN, as it was quite clearly to me the kind of thing of tabloids. The idea of him having a voodoo curse put on people such as Stephen Spielberg among others, bathing in sheep blood, and ceremonially having cows slaughtered in relation to the curses is really bizarre. At the time, I thought that CNN was a source for news, and I could never actually believe that story to be news no matter how much anyone might pay me or how much of a sales and marketing job was enforced upon me. To give them the benefit of the doubt, they must have just momentarily confused the character Wacko Jacko with the man who is Michael Jackson. They really seem like two completely different people.
This individual who may have put curses on people to get back at them for things, and slaughtering animals in the process seems nothing like Michael Jackson reacting the following way to an insect on stage (at about 2 minutes into the video):
It might stand out as different, unique, but with a completely different intent than the above.
Then there’s something Gotham Chopra, wrote, “Michael Jackson and Kim Jong Il” in The Huffington Post (5 July 2009) which speaks of Lisa Ling, and Euna Lee being detained in North Korea. He spoke to Gotham about whether there might be anything that could be done. Michael Jackson thought that maybe if Kim Jong II were a fan of his, that might enable him to sway the North Korean leader to free these two individuals. He also said the following:
Gotham writes: “I explained to Michael that there were larger geo-politics involved, nuclear programs, a new administration trying to assert its foreign policy strategy (Obama), and another one in NK possibly going through some sort of transference of power.” Which might be a typical response from most people, but here’s a different and I would say a rather touching response:
“Yeah,” Michael said wistfully, “but if someone wants to do something good, they just can. They don’t really need to worry about all that other stuff.”
It might not always work to just out of the blue be able to do something good, but if it doesn’t I would like to pose the question: Did we really believe we could accomplish that good thing and let that belief surpass any fear or uncertainty we felt about accomplishing the good act?
From Gotham Chopra’s account, it seems as though Michael Jackson goes beyond the role that Stephen King suggests is his role. He not only gave the people what they wanted, through his skill and ability as an entertainer, but he wanted to give so much more.
As can be seen through the lyrics of such songs as Heal the World, Black or White, Man in the Mirror, Will you be There, Earth song, and others; Michael Jackson, or the power that used him as a vessel through which to communicate, had a vision of humankind living in community with one another, regardless of race or creed or other differences. His music, his way of living seems to show humankind as best lived in communion with one another and with a Higher power (regardless of whether this Higher power might be a higher self within us, or something completely outside of us; perhaps a combination therein which is the Creator). It can be argued that how he lived was strange and bizarre, but is that argument using sensationalism as a basis to prove its point, or does it take into account all sides including the good? You can decide.
What a rollercoaster those 54 years have been! I’m suddenly reminded of Michael’s “Leave me Alone” music video, which has imagery of the circus atmosphere and also includes a rollercoaster ride. The song is from his Bad album, which celebrates its 25th anniversary with a release in September of Bad 25, including the first officially released concert from the Bad world tour.
Feel free to watch the “Leave me Alone” video here: