This is a companion post to yesterday’s.
An interesting point, before I get into the meat and potatoes of this, occurred to me while reading another post this morning. The author has been having a tough go of things lately, lots of self-induced stress (really, is there any other kind?), etc.. We drunks deal with this from day one of recovery. Our lives are in shambles, we’re usually very ill and are in deep financial trouble. To make things worse, we stop taking the one medication that we know numbs the thinking, or pain (or in many cases, only used to numb the thinking). Let’s just say the negative thinking that comes with this is difficult to bear. We want things better now. Unfortunately it just doesn’t work like that.
For a time we get to focus on fixing ourselves but we learn, after the urges to drink fade in intensity and become manageable on our own, that recovery from alcoholism is so much more than just “not drinking anymore”; it’s a total transformation of our lives. Put simply, we often find, if we’re paying attention, that putting down the drink simply isn’t enough.
This is the point where the post I read this morning melds with my post from yesterday, and with my lunch plans…
The post I read this morning was written by a person who has struggled with an eating disorder and body image problem. Not alcoholism, but in this case, the affliction doesn’t matter (I look for how things are alike, not different). The author had been in a funk for several months and is just managing to come out of it. Recovery from alcoholism has many forms of “funk” as well and there is one prescription to beating all varieties: Working with others. This is specifically what pulled recovery from that hopeless state of mind and body out of the psych ward back in the late 1930’s.
It is a known reality that it is near impossible to languish in one’s own morass while helping another enjoy their life more. This is so for several reasons, but looking at the selfish first: I’ve not been having an easy time lately with my dad’s passing and a few other tiny things that have me off. Now don’t get the wrong impression here, I’m far from “down”, but where is it written that we must be fully immersed in full-blown depression before we take action to counter that which we surely know will come without action?… Exactly. I took a new friend out to lunch yesterday. He relies on others heavily because he is blind and has a harder time making his way around. I spent an hour and a half of my day making his.
We call this, in the group I run with, “getting out of myself”. If I stay stuck in my little world, the space between my ears, I tend to think with the same melon that created my problem to begin with. If, on the other hand, I’m helping someone else, the solutions to my problems tend to show up out of the blue. I choose to look at this as “God working in mysterious ways” but there are certainly others. The point is (whatever you choose to call it), worrying about a problem has never helped me solve anything while working with others has. By the time I dropped him off, my outlook on life was much better. My problems seemed smaller, easier to deal with.
As a side note, I like to look at my life, from the day I put the jug down to yesterday as a rollercoaster ride. At first the highs were very high and the lows really sucked. The goal over time has been to smooth that rollercoaster out so the highs aren’t all that high and the lows are but little rollers. This is the how and why that triggers taking action: I’m simply not used to being very low anymore. When I’m a little down, working with someone else to make their life more enjoyable is a natural reaction (which is exactly why I failed to include this aspect of what I was doing in my post yesterday – it’s such a natural reaction anymore it’s almost subconscious).
Another way that “getting out of myself” helps me get over my own petty problems, and this is the important one, when I help a friend with his problems I have to think about solutions. I have to help him work on what ails him and 90% of the time, what ails him ails me, just in a smaller way. It’s not rocket science, if I’m not stuck in my little box – if I’m looking at how a friend can fix his issues, eventually I’ll stumble upon the answer to my problems.
This works on anything, no matter how small. Lacking drive to hit your workouts? Work with another. Their motivation will rub off on you. Doesn’t it always work that way?
This, I have no doubt, is the way the world is meant to work. Brother helping sister, helping brother.