This month, there are a lot of “service pieces” in magazines and newspapers with helpful advice about how to not be sad at the holidays of Christmas and Hanukkah. These well-meaning columns have suggestions on how to change our moods and move away from sadness. However, I have a theory that having feelings that match reality is mental health, not mental illness.
There is a question that comes up repeatedly around the rooms of the program - what about these people the courts are sending here? What should we do with them?
Slamming doors. Broken dishes. Arguments that the neighbors could hear clearly. Tears. Unkind words. And, conversely the resonant sound of hostile silence. The disease of alcoholism had wedged itself into the middle of our marriage.
At many AA meetings, somewhere in the program, a person asks “Could we have a moment of silence for the alcoholic who still suffers?” We are briefly quiet, perhaps thinking of someone we know whose suffering is all too clear to us. I also think of those whose suffering is over because they lost their lives in a struggle with alcohol or drugs.
I deployed to Tallil, Iraq in January of 2007. When my transport plane landed, I got worried. Would I hold up under combat conditions? Would I remember my training or, would I wither in the face of fire? I deplaned and stood on the tarmac to get my bearings and there a few hundred meters from my location I saw a church steeple. I thought to myself “before I do anything else, I’m going to go into that church and just say a quick prayer of gratitude to God for getting me safely to Iraq.”
Growing up, I wanted people to like me. I considered it a personal challenge to win people over. And I wanted to feel connected to those people. I was intrigued by spirituality, and how it might make me feel connected, so I would “meditate.” But really I was just getting high, contemplating not my place in the vast continuum, but rather how a fish might have a swordfight with a bee.
The National Council of Alcohol and Drug Dependence founded Alcohol Awareness Month in 1987 in an effort to reduce the stigma widely associated with alcoholism by spreading information about alcohol, alcoholism, and recovery. Each year, numerous groups around the country work to break down barriers to treatment and recovery to make the option of seeking help more readily available to those who suffer from this disease.
All children living in homes where addiction is present experience some sort of impact. Some of their reactions are predictable, while some dynamic behavior combinations are completely unique and organic to each child. These reactions are defenses and are all situationally established to create a sense of safety or relief. Claudia Black, Ph.D. and national expert on the Family Disease of Addiction, has researched the patterns of reactions that children experience. She identifies one of these childhood roles as “The Scapegoat”.
This year, 2015, is the first year that I haven’t felt some generalized distress at Christmas time. It began when I was a child in a violent, alcoholic home. I almost always got hurt on the days leading up to Christmas. It would begin with the tree.
"I've got to stop auctioning myself off to the low bidder."