That Voice Isn't Me

About a decade ago I first heard of a different way to deal with addictions than AA. Disclosure, I am pretty sure if I had to choose between being a drunk and AA, I’d choose the former. Alcoholics Anonymous has no resonance for me. But, a decade ago I heard of Rational Recovery (RR) and I put it to the test six years ago with beer drinking and smoking.

My one takeaway was the notion of the beast within, or the addictive voice (AV) that relentlessly lets someone know that he / she is thirsty, hungry, tired or some other physical state of need. It is a voice that has probably spoken to humankind through millions of years. It was a survival voice to keep the human body functioning. The founder of RR suggests this survival voice got sidetracked with self-stimulants along the way, and now can treat need for alcohol, narcotics, etc. as a survival need. (I am paraphrasing in the broadest way.)

Anyway, the money lines for me in the RR literature are these:
“Look at your hands, which are necessary to consume alcohol or drugs. Understand that they [you hands] are under your complete control at all times. Your Beast has no power over you; it is a quadriplegic which must appeal to you in order to convince you to drink or to use. Wiggle your finger. Now challenge your Beast to do the same. Get it?”
Because the imagery is ableist language, I think I’d rather substitute a sci-fi or fantasy character like Hal 9000. A disembodied - but reasonable voice (sounding just like my own in fact) that can cause me problems and fear and anxiety, but can’t control my hands.

I was able to use this approach on any number of addictions. There was great care and concern with my approach and preparation to make-a-plan each and every time I wanted to address an addiction. I have gotten lazy and ignored my plans and indulged the AV cajoling me. But, it has never been a fearful or overly shameful process to address and move on past bad habits. This is aided by the fact that I am not working and I don’t have dependents (kids, pets, a relationship or marriage). Therefore lacking these most common hurdles, I can focus my energy and involvement in whatever way maximizes my process of getting past habits.

This January I did encounter massive inertia. And my ‘de-trained’ state; that is, my utter lack of muscle tone, lung capacity, balance, flexibility or energy was unprecedented in my life. Growing older has been an accelerant in this ├╝ber out of shape state. Not to worry. I am hoisting my hefty frame out the door far more often than not. I am not blogging or writing much this year because I know how easy it is to get snagged back into a comfort zone of writing rather than moving. I am also stepping away from community building for the same reasons, the validation and self-satisfaction these things bring me can threaten my resolve to move into this much overlooked responsibility to build a strong, resilient physical being. So, every day I nudge myself further out of the comfort zone and into the fray.

I am working to envision myself on a bike – daily. I can see myself up early and attending to some domestic, garden tasks, packing some potable meals / water, eating a bite and heading out the door for a host of projects, study, reading, meeting with others and even volunteering. What is keeping me from this is the combination of low energy / fitness and the getting out the door kind of will. I have a couple more habits that just piss me off. Things that render me a prisoner or slave – against my best intentions – to time and energy spent in ways that don’t give me what I long to have or be . . . are in my mind as the next priorities. The internet has so much to give me while remaining my primary nemesis. Plans flit in and out of my mind lately. I will formulate a real plan when it is time. Right now I don’t want to tip off Hal. (In my head it sounds more like Val).

Hat tip to Sharon Astyk for writing a provocative piece today on denial that stimulated me with so many thoughts I had to write a bit today. Her website, Casaubon’s Book does this for me on a regular basis.

Update 7/16: Upon rereading I may have overstated my aversion to AA - if I had to choose between being a drunk and AA, I’d choose the former -using hyperbole.

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