Play Misty for Me (2)

July 29, 2020

Continued from previous…

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This too shall pass your mother liked to say, even if she didn’t believe it. But she was right. Mist or fog, it evaporates. At times you embrace sadness, its depth and gravitas. But like an old friend he can overstay his welcome. Then you have to wait him out. Drag him along on your errands. Enduring his sourpuss and cynicism. Sometimes, you might ditch him on a hike. He couldn’t keep up in the gym either. If those things failed, you brought him to a meeting, tossing him center circle with everyone else’s shit.

Relief comes. And when it does you embrace it. Sing its song for as long as you can, feel your body electrified by it. Such joy is a blessing. And fleeting. A feminine spirit, she does as she pleases. An ephemeral pink cloud, you keep the window open for her.

You do miss the excitability of grandiosity. But ridding this was a fair price to pay for the leveling of valleys. Roller coasters are thrilling but no way to live. Soberly, you tread flat terrain.

But still…

There is the matter of your lesser addictions. Gluttony. Lust. It’s paradoxical, leaning in to them while turning away. You cannot resist the siren’s song.

More content coming soon!

Play Misty for Me

July 27, 2020

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Everyone experiences situational depression. Conflict. Unresolved resentments. Sometimes it really is just the humidity. Having a bad day. You either accept the situation or change it. Regardless, it always ends. It is not clinical. Professional help and medicine are seldom required. What you are experiencing is neither clinical nor situational. Sadness descends upon you like mist. By no means pleasant it isn’t debilitating either. You can see through it. You can operate heavy machinery. You probably won’t drink over it.

Many people insist on finding a culprit for their misery: someone or something to blame. The world is filled with people making this mistake. One feels like shit because of a spouse, a boss, a relative, a neighbor, the President of the United States. You know better than to assign blame for melancholy. Yes. You’d like to make the blues situational. Then you could rectify the situation or be its victim. For years, you were the blindfolded child swinging madly for a target. Creating situations to meet your depression was understandable… and also idiotic.

You now have healthy ways to mitigate woe. AA taught. Others you picked up all by yourself. Be of service. Go for a run. Pray. Basically, do anything but wallow in it. You cannot think your way out of depression. If anything, thinking caused it. In the wild, animals do not get depressed because they do not sit around thinking. Food and shelter is their constant priority, their only priority. Put a bear in a zoo and it becomes depressed, anxiously pacing back and forth, sullen and surly. Domesticated, it turns neurotic.

Your mother was (and maybe still) clinically depressed. She has spent her whole life (and so yours) dealing with this problem. You read somewhere that far more women are clinically depressed than men. Maybe that’s because historically women have been domesticated more than men, anxiously pacing back and forth in their kitchens, sullen and surly in equal measures.

To be Continued.

A Chorus of Sirens

July 24, 2020

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Everyone, you think, is some kind of addict. Be they active, recovering, or on the brink. Passions which are good become obsessions which are bad. People are self-seeking. This is the human condition, the result of Original Sin. Yearning. Craving. Lusting. Demanding. Wanting. Needing. Soothing. The seeds of addiction are there, have always been there. Many are able to temper these urges, denying the seeds what they need to flourish. But they’re still there. Waiting for a deluge, a perfect storm of misery or even joy… or just another shitty day. Then boom! Out comes the Hagen Das. The lonely housewife turns on the TV and never turns it off. An old man retreats to the garage for a smoke. Some concede to only a few addictions. Maybe they are harmless ones – a gardening obsession, collecting figurines. Or weird: like hoarding. Hidden from the world. In others the seeds erupt as soon as they touch a nerve, like weeds in a vacant lot. Out of control. You’ve met no one who has not succumbed to something. Drugs and alcohol are the poster children for addiction. Plenty else is out there.

What are some of yours?

Switcheroo

June 22, 2020

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Remove the Christian gravy from AA and it’s just a program of substitutions, a replacement strategy for better living. Replacing barrooms with fellowship, selfishness with service. Honesty replaces duplicity. And so on. First and foremost, however, one had to replace the booze. Here Bill Wilson made a crucial decision: the surrogate for alcohol would be God, later amended to a Higher Power, as you understand him. The amending was due to the polarizing nature of God. Bill understood (correctly) most drunks; “self-serving in the extreme” would be put off “turning their wills over” to a deity, especially one from their neighborhood church. The amendment was added to make the program easy to swallow, like booze. To this day the God thing remains the biggest obstacle for people entering the program. Certainly, it was for you. To get there you had to concede that the bottle had become your higher power, literally bringing you to your knees. That was the easy part. You were powerless over alcohol. Duh. Replacing this Godhead, however, would not be so easy. It required serious magic from a talented magician… God. Even if you didn’t believe in Him, Her or It, the grandness of the plan made sense. How could it be otherwise and work?

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“What’s the difference between a sociopath and a psychopath?” You ask Mia, upon sitting down.

“Is this a joke?” she replies.

“I was wondering the whole ride up,” you say. “On a lark, I even tried asking Siri. She told me where the nearest bike path was.”

You take off your skullcap tossing it beside you on the couch. Rub your shaved head. This is what a psychopath looks like. Jack Nicholson in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. The Shining.

“Well, first of all, we don’t use those terms anymore,” Mia says. “Not clinically. We prefer calling it antisocial personality disorder.” 

“Well, I definitely have that going on.” You smile. The topic actually has no bearing on your mood, which is upbeat.

“Basically,” Mia continues, “a psychopath does not have a conscience while a sociopath has a glimmer of one, albeit damaged.”

“So,” you wonder aloud, “a sociopath knows he’s doing something wrong but does it anyway. And the psychopath has no moral compass whatever?”

Mia nods. “Do you think you’re a sociopath?” she picks up her coffee mug, keeping her eyes on you while taking a sip.

“Compared to a psychopath!” You lean forward. “I know when I’m doing bad things but yet I do them anyway. The drinking. Infidelity. Driving by myself in the carpool lane.”

Mia laughs. The reaction you were looking for. You think this is how a patient flirts with his shrink. Playing cat and mouse around a dicey topic. But Mia’s too smart for that. She won’t abide such banter unless it’s leading somewhere relevant. She calls it deflecting.

“Addictions are different than psychosis,” she says. “The disease overrides morality. You know that. Besides, you have a moral compass and you’re working on fixing it. What you do here, in AA, a sociopath wouldn’t bother doing.”

“I suppose you’re right, Mia. But sometimes I wonder…”

To be continued…