Thursday, March 3, 2011
Names Can Definitely Hurt Me
How we speak and think about ourselves cements
a concept of our identity in our minds and hearts.
Speaking derogatorily sets us up to continue to think
of ourselves are derogatory.
I can appreciate the need for some people coming
into a program (or any avenue of recovery) to
need to identify their problem with alcohol for the
necessary step of becoming clear and taking
responsibility. Admitting that you have a problem
is always a starting point for getting help, and
with alcohol addiction, denial is a huge obstacle.
But the attitude we hold about our personhood is
affected by negative connotations. Not only does the
'outside world' have a major hate-on for the worth
of the average alcoholic, but the group itself takes
the malady and makes it a power that can never be
shaken. That sets us up for a fall, too.
But back to words' impact.
Words reflect possibility and hope, or they reflect
rigid limitations and negativity. We all choose words
very carefully...or at least we should. Our minds dictate
what we do and say and feel, so the intention and
consciousness of every choice is significant.
Every time we state a belief, we make it a reality.
We maintain every nuance of our own realm with
every thought and feeling we substantiate. So to
reinforce the idea of being forever linked to a drug,
as well as the negative connotation that goes along
with it, helps to destroy one's esteem.
I hear people in 12 Step refer to themselves as
'just another drunk' or a 'worthless alcoholic' or
'an alcoholic whose problem is (fill in their name.)'
These are all very dramatic ways of keeping the
focus on their associated disease, but it crushes the
spirit of the person. It sets one up for more negativity,
despair, and failure, which I find to be the chief
issues behind all addiction anyway.
(When I hear the contempt in people's voices at
meetings speaking of themselves as an 'ALCOHOLIC,'
I feel like there should be an asterisk next to their word
balloon and a footnote that says "alcoholic: a nasty,
decrepit, meaningless piece of shit on the shoe of
humanity." That seems to be the indication.
And yes, just calling yourself a garden variety 'alcoholic'
is still demeaning, too. (I do like when folks who put a
positive and personal spin on it with comments like
"I'm a grateful recovering alcoholic,' or "I have a desire
to stop drinking" or "I have a desire to recover."
What a difference a turn of phrase makes.)
Think about it; the attitude you bring to a fight
determines a lot about how well you'll survive it. In
relationships with others, being forgiving and loving
make great strides in conflict resolution. The same is true
for our relationship with ourselves.
You get more flies with honey than vinegar.
The idea of reducing a human to an affliction is also a
telling notion. It's the same concept used to dehumanize
people who live on the streets, people with mental illnesses,
people who are differently-abled, and so on. Anytime we
want to invalidate a person or group of people, we
break them down to a dismissible point; 'bums,' 'head cases,'
We like running down those who are already run down.
The term 'alcoholic' makes less of the beauty and blessing
inherent in every human being struggling with the illness.
Yes, I understand the need to connect and bond over
the issue at hand. But that's covered. "The only requirement
for membership is a desire to stop drinking." That says it all.
My being in the room says what needs to be said; anything else
is completely optional. There are no mandates in the rooms,
despite there being many chiefs and police who might like
It's not about shame or avoidance; it's about aspiring to be
better. More. Hopeful.
No man can determine what another's worth is. For someone
else to label me a 'drunk' or an 'alcoholic' as if that is all there is
to my story...to burden me with that onus and not sing my
praises....it won't do. I--like all people, both in and out of
the rooms--am a blessed child of the Universe, with light and
love enough to share.
My power is great if I accept and acknowledge it. My problems
are mostly of my own making, as are my solutions. Feeding
my self-hate does not create in me a better or stronger person;
it creates more dependence and hurt.
I'm sorry Bill W. was, in his mind, such a lousy prick and had
so much guilt about his actions. Humility is required to amend
what has gone before, and then build back up what may
never have been sound in the first place.
Words have tremendous meaning and influence.
What would happen if we allowed ourselves to say phrases
every day like;
"I love myself completely."
"I am worthy of love."
"I deserve to be happy." ?
The transformative effect of the power of the mind, the
words we use, can bring about any result. Most of us beat
ourselves up and degraded ourselves, as well as attracted
people who would do the same. Most of us have been
playing 'tapes' in our heads from abusers for many years,
eroding our confidence and self-respect.
What would happen if we took the focus off of deficits and
placed it on benefits and greatness?
What an awesome experiment that would be.
"My name is Robert, and I am......."
Blessed. Powerful. Recovering. Beloved. Beautiful.