Alcohol is a solution

Alcohol is a solution

My last post was a little cryptic. It was one of my more poetic posts. I was playing with language because I was trying to make sense of things which don’t make sense. When I started I was trying to make sense of big issues like war, poverty, racism and sexual assault. By the time I finished it several days later I was thinking about my own life. Specifically I was thinking about the role alcohol plays in my life.

I’m what is commonly referred to as an alcoholic. I tend to reject labels but as they say, “if the shoe fits…”. The label alcoholic is one that I identify with strongly, I accept it, I embrace and I will even take pride in it. Society tends to look down on alcoholics and attempts to instill shame. Shame is a destructive force and so I reject it. Alcoholics are not defective people, they are just people. Sure they do some fucked up things sometimes but everybody who does anything will fuck up from time to time. Bigger things can mean bigger fuck ups. Combine that with social stigma and ostracization and you’ve got a mess. I happen to find most alcoholics to be pretty freaking amazing people.

For me, alcohol is not a problem. Alcohol is a solution. It may be an imperfect solution but there are no perfect solutions. On the whole, alcohol has served me pretty well. Alcohol has been there for me when all else has failed. Alcohol is like a best friend… only more consistent, and more predictable. Alcohol has been my mentor, teaching me countless life lessons. Alcohol has held my hand as I’ve attempted things I never thought I could. Alcohol has taught me courage. Alcohol has taught me to speak my mind. Alcohol has taught me vulnerability. Alcohol has taught me how to ask for help. Alcohol has taught taught me the power of forgiveness. No matter what I am feeling, regardless of my state of mind, alcohol can put me in touch with my true self or give me an attitude adjustment when needed. Alcohol has been with me for virtually every major life event. Alcohol has introduced me to the vast majority of my lovers, partners and friends. Alcohol has got me through every brake-up and has even helped me end unhealthy relationships when nothing else could. Alcohol has been my medication for chronic illness. Alcohol has been my motivation to keep going. Alcohol has been my reward for a job well done. Alcohol has fueled most of this blog. Alcohol has literally saved my life.

Yeah, alcohol is pretty amazing stuff!

As I look at my life and all I’ve accomplished I realize that I owe alcohol a deep debt of gratitude. Alcohol has worked for me and it has got me to this point. I just have this aching feeling like there has to be more to life. Maybe I’m wrong but I know that I’ll never find out as long as alcohol is in the picture; keeping life exciting and making everything okay when life gets too much.  In order to see what is around that bend, I’m going to have to break up with alcohol. I’m going to have to become a sober alcoholic.

Yeah, right! Like that ever happens. Sounds like a flightless bird to me. 

Well, as it turns out there are a lot of sober alcoholics. They even gather in groups multiple times a day, every day of the week. I’ve been going to these gatherings and what I’ve discovered is that like the ostridge, these people are pretty freaking amazing. Them do seem to be rather down on my beloved alcohol however; blaming it for the problems in their life rather than celebrating it for their accomplishments. Still, despite our differences we seem to have a lot in common. As I listen to their stories it sounds like my life. We may not share the same perspective but the experiences are pretty similar. When sitting with these sober alcoholics I feel like I’m where I’m meant to be. I can’t help but thank alcohol for helping me find this place. I think my new friends feel the same way because when I said, “I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for alcohol”, they all nodded in agreement.

I heard a speaker the other night say that the Alcoholics Anonymous steps and program are not something to believe in, it’s not something you learn from, it’s something you do. I think what he was saying was that the beliefs and knowledge come from the doing, not from the steps themselves. I’m not going to AA because I believe in it, I’m not going to learn how to be a better alcoholic, I’m going because I need something to do. Alcohol has been my thing to do and it has works to this point. The one thing I want now is the one thing it can’t get me. I want sobriety and alcohol will no longer get me there. I’m sure that there are other ways but Alcoholics Anonymous has a proven track record of helping alcoholics find sobriety. As they say, “It works if you work it.”

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Don’t panic

Last week in therapy I provided a response that I found rather interesting. When asked what was on my mind I responded that I’ve been focusing on the medium picture; not the big picture, not the little picture, just the medium picture. When asked to elaborate I explained that I had been busy trying to solve all the world’s problems.

“That sounds pretty big to me.” replied my therapist.

“Not when compared to the entire universe. When you do that, the world seems really, really small. It’s important to keep things in perspective.” I explained.

Of course from the perspective of the individual the world seems really, really big. The problems we are facing are gigantic and they are global. From all the research that I’ve been doing I’ve come the the conclusion that we are basically doing everything wrong and that the human race is on a headlong course for destruction.

I really do think that our entire economic system is on the verge of collapse. We really are running out of oil. We really are destroying the environment and the natural resources of the only planet we have. So many of our resources as well as our efforts are simply being wasted. The climate really is changing for the worse and it is our fault. All of our governmental systems are corrupted and broken. We are all addicted to something whether it be drugs, sex, money, power, possessions, fake food, work or even particular emotional states. It seems like all we do is point fingers and blame each other rather than look at ourselves. Everyone is spying on everyone else. We spend all this time and energy focusing on the symptoms rather than addressing the root cause. In the process we are still fighting wars and killing each other. How stupid is that?

It really is like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

So why not panic?!? Isn’t it time to totally freak out?!?

I guess the best answer I have is because it doesn’t work. People are going to freak out if they are going to freak out and there is plenty of reason to do so. I’m pretty prone to freaking out myself. It just doesn’t help; at least not in the long run. The other reason is that even as bad things are, they could be worse. Even though I believe that we are doing everything wrong, it is also true that we are doing a lot of things right. Furthermore, some of the things we do wrong turn out good and some of the things we do right turn out bad. The fact is that most of us are surviving and our population is actually growing.

Some point to population growth as being the root of all our problems. That may be true but it is also proof of all our solutions. Even if you believe that overpopulation is what will inevitably do us all in, I’ve got some good new for you there too. Population growth among the countries that are causing most of the problems is actually decreasing. The sad news is that greatest population expansion is among the countries that are doing most of the suffering.

I’ve been delving into some other number as well and what I have found is that things are not quite as bad as the doomsday scenario I painted earlier. I found this empirical data mildly comforting. As a result, I’m pretty sure that the world won’t end tomorrow. We still have a chance to survive this but we need to wake up and take responsibility. If we keep on down the road that we are going, we are doomed. That is undeniable. What is also undeniable is that some things are changing for the better. It’s just very complicated and there are a lot of moving parts. I feel like we are in a situation of taking one hundred steps forward and ninety-nine steps back; but that may just be the optimist in me.

What really concerns me is that it seems like institutions, ideology, technology, philosophy, medicine, psychology and science have all evolved faster than our humanity. In essence we have abandoned our biology to built a society devoid of what makes us human. It does not serve our primitive needs but rather uses us to perpetuate itself. We now find ourselves in a society that requires us to act in inhuman ways for the sake of society.

I want to leave you with this meme that I saw the other day. It has been floating around the internet for about a year but I’m kind of slow when it comes to those kind of things.

this-is-our-society

As with most memes our tendency is to see this and chuckle, “yup, that’s about right” and move on. That’s my typical response but this one got me thinking. It’s easy to think that nothing we do is right. It’s easy to find fault in whatever someone else does. It’s easy to say that anyone who sits around making memes clearly has too much time on their hands.

But I wanted to dig deeper, to think outside the box. I wanted to find the best solution. With a guiding principle of love and kindness I easily concluded that judging others was not the answer. but how about for the couple trying to get where they are going? I guess the real question is, “Where are we going… and why?” Society can’t tell us that. We have to figure it out on our own.

Why relationships fail

I just spent the weekend with someone that I have been friends with for nearly 30 years so I feel like I know a thing or two about how to make relationships last… but I don’t. I do however know a thing or two about how to make relationships fail. I’m been sitting on this knowledge for a while because I’ve been thinking, “Who the fuck am I to be giving relationship advice?”

I really thought it would be a great post. I even had a great title, “The Three C’s of Relationship Failure”. But then, today, I learned of another C and decided I might as well put this out there now before I get any smarter and it becomes too much to write about. Relationships are way too complicated to put in a blog post anyway. By the way, complicated is not one of the C’s that I had thought of.  To me that is not an issue, that should just be a given if you plan on getting into a relationship.

So here are my three C’s: Communication, Compatibility and Control.

I’m going to take on Compatibility first because it’s the easiest. Some people are just not meant to be together. You want different things, you believe different things, you want to do different things; maybe you want to be with different people. That’s not a bad thing. It doesn’t mean that either of you are bad people. It just may mean that you don’t want to be with each other… at least not in that way. So don’t. If you do work in another way then do that. Not everybody can be everything to everybody but everyone has something to give.

I know that there are many relationships that survive between people who never talk but they are probable between people that never should have been together in the first place. Sorry, some relationships suck even if they stay together. Communication is key to any relationship and communication is not easy. Read my post Lost In Translation. I think that more relationships end because of problems with communication than anything else. I’m sure that there are other problems but the problems wouldn’t seem so big if we could just understand each other. People just want to be heard, to be seen, to matter and if there is bad communication, that is not happening.

The other one is Control and this one is big. We have control over ourselves but when we try to control others, problems are guaranteed to happen. Believe me, I get it. Shit is out of control and so the natural response is to try and control it. It just doesn’t actually make things better. Well, it may make things better for you, but this is a relationship which means it’s not all about you! You can’t MAKE a relationship work. You need to step back and LET a relationship work. I’m sorry if that’s a little Zen for you but it’s true. There are a lot of things that you can make work but a relationship is not one of them.

Okay, and then today I learned about another reason and it really makes sense to me. I call this one Competition. I know that historically relationships have been held between people of unequal status with defined roles. I think that is a totally fucked up concept but it doesn’t matter what I think; that shit just doesn’t fly these days. But competition can still occur in a relationship between equals especially if you are in the same field. In the example that I heard today they were both competing to be the best parent. Yeah, I can totally see that a being a problem. Seriously people, if you both are trying to do your best to care for a child that should be a good thing. Don’t let competition screw it up!

As I’ve been thinking about this subject I’ve come to the realization that there is another issue that is probably bigger than all the others combined. We all mess up in these areas. None of use are perfectly compatible with each other. We all struggle at communication and we all have control issues. It is in our nature to be competitive. If we want to make it work we need to learn to accept our faults and the faults of our partner. I’m not saying that every couple should just suck it up and deal but if you have found someone that you really love… then work on it.

If you have compatibility issues then work on them.

If you have communication issues them work on them.

If you have control issues then work on them.

If you have competition issues then work on them.

Love is worth it!

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