I am Absolutely, Entirely Powerless Against the Argument in My Head which is Why I Skip the Whole $#!+ Show
Trigger (heh) warning: I’m not going to hide my crazy for this post. Indeed, the only way to beat crazy is to stop fighting and accept it. You have been trigger (heh) warned.
I have the willpower of a potato. A potato. I know, you guys are thinking, “Dude writes a blog about fitness and recovery, he has
25 26-years sober, actually works the program, has a ridiculous fitness regimen, riding every day for weeks on end… Don’t mistake dedication and discipline for willpower. If I deviated from the plan to avoid a mouse fart I’d be screwed. What I do is discipline and repetition and that gives the appearance of willpower.
If I were to take a drink tomorrow at lunch, I’d be $#!+ faced drunk before dinner, you can bank on it. Wait a second! Man, it has been a while! I’d skip dinner so the food wouldn’t mess up my buzz. Sheesh.
I had a great sponsor when I was young in sobriety who taught me how understand how my melon fought the part of me that just wanted to be happy – he taught me that there were warring parts of my brain – and that the fight between them could be weighted with a little bit of effort. And this is how that works…
Say there’s a happy, sober me and a drunk on a bar stool me. There’s a straight line plotted from one me to the other. At some point a thought enters my melon related to having a drink, usually beer. That thought leads to a craving. Then, I have a little argument in my head that’s touched off by that craving for a drink. For instance, I have one of those “man, I just got done cutting the grass, it’s 90° (F, that’s something like 30 C)…. a beer sure would taste good right now” thoughts. Folks, at 26 years sober, they’re rare but they still happen.
In the bad old days before I sobered up but after I wanted to sober up, when I was ignorant enough to think all of the thoughts that entered the gray matter had some validity to them and therefore, they should be contemplated. I’d roll it around in my head a little bit. Eventually I would have an argument in my head about whether or not I should have a drink. Even though I knew that drink would eventually lead to me drunk on that bar stool, I would lose the argument in my head. Every time. Sure enough, I’d promise myself, “This time it’ll be different”… and head to a bar to order a beer. Then another. And another… I’d end up drunk on that bar stool and in even deeper trouble.
I should add, that once I lost the argument, there was no changing my mind. I’d already lost. It’s entirely wrong-headed, but it is what it is. I digress…
The key to the mistake was letting the argument proceed in the first place.
It never occurred to me to shut the “discussion” down before it could even get going. If I don’t have the argument, I can’t lose it.
Applied to drinking, shut the argument down before it gets legs and starts running. That, I truly believe, is the difference between success and failure. Say I have that “A beer would taste good right now” thought. Today, my response differs greatly from the old days. Today it’s more like, “Jesus, I really need a meeting”. Also, unlike the old days, when that second thought is “I need a meeting”, I actually go to a meeting.
To the uninitiated, this process of shutting down the argument in the melon can seem problematic. The problem is, what happens if the thought comes back. Well, the simplistic answer is you just keep shutting it down till you move onto something else. That’s not always easy, though. It requires… now come a little closer so I can whisper it… practice. When I first came up with this whole nutty answer to my bat-shit crazy melon, I had to practice shutting the thoughts down. It could take upwards of a half-hour before I’d turn my attention to something else. The more I practiced, though, the better I got at it.
Today it’s almost seamless, from one thought to the next. All too often we judge ourselves based on the first thought that enters our head. When those thoughts are bad enough, we turn on the ass-kicking machine and we mentally beat up on ourselves over it. I’ve found that I’m not my first subconscious thoughts. Today, I’m my second thoughts. It’s not bad that a crazy idea pops into the gray matter every now and again. It’s what I do with that crazy idea that counts.
Just something to gnaw on.