Working with our therapist, Judy, Friday, she suggested a new strategy for me. She called it "truth telling" and described it as coming out of Buddhist cosmology. I have this troubling on-going issue. It is distressing for me and is hurtful for sue and t. The concept of the truth telling technique, as I understand it, is that when I feel betrayed in my ongoing obsessive thoughts that t and sue called 9-1-1, and had me hunted by swat teams, and jailed twice, and convicted of two very stigmatizing crimes, and forced into mandatory participation in A. A. for over a year, and costs of over $10,000........When that happens I need to stop. I need to recognize that I know there was no malicious intent on their part. I need to recall that they did not know what would happen when they called 9-1-1. I have to realize they did not want me put in jail, or to be treated as I was, or to be charged and convicted or any of the other things that occurred. I need to remind myself they did not develop A. A., or have anything to do with its being mandated for me. Now the twist in this is that Judy recognizes I do feel that...that I can't prevent my mind from having those thoughts and feelings. She knows I recognize intellectually those thoughts are irrational, but that my dilemma is, they occur repeatedly daily, obsessively despite my knowing they are irrational. She asked in this "truth telling" technique that I simply do not say them out loud. She reminds me that if I say them out loud, they will only exacerbate our relationship issues, and that makes all three of us feel immensely worse. So I have undertaken truth telling and therefore belying my obsessive internal thought process.
I struggled with this much of the weekend. I can do it easily enough. Like most of my various changes the last two years the things I change center, not around doing things, but about not doing something. It is easy enough for me to just not say those things out loud, but somehow too, this easy exercise had me in emotional knots. As the weekend progressed I went on to become ever more morose. I was thinking that I have no pride, no honor, only self-hatred, weakness, shame, etc.......my self-concept the last two years. Sunday came and for the first time in three weeks it was not a day long shouting and screaming match between sue and I. We were tentative but pleasant. I was pensive and plagued with internal monologues like the one I described. As we progressed on to late afternoon, I felt like I had to do something to change the way I felt....I needed to find something to divert me from, or blast me out of, what I was thinking and feeling. Our repertoire of "things we do" has become pretty limited, but we do go to movies, and there were some that have recently opened (or are coming up soon) that we have been interested in. I suggested we go see the movie "Flight" at 5:30. Fortunately t and sue were amenable.
As we sat in the theatre watching the twenty-seven minutes of previews that preceded the showing of Flight (yes that is right 27 minutes of previews!) I was mulling over my internal monologue. I began consciously chanting to myself there was no maliciousness intended when they called 9-1-1. They were afraid. They didn't want to hurt me. All the harm I experienced had nothing to do with what they did. They were afraid for me and for themselves and tried to get help. They didn't want to hurt me. This became a mantra like........ cyclical. Suddenly I had this warm feeling....this sense of freedom. For the first time in two years a terrible burden felt as though it was gone, and I felt a warmth for t and sue that I haven't had for two years. It was an amazing moment!
It was short-lived...the movie began and I focused my attention on that. This movie's occurrence in my life at this moment was, at the least, amazingly serendipitous synchronicity....or maybe something more magic...who ever knows. "Flight" is a story of a commercial airline pilot who makes a heroic landing of a jetliner which saves most of the plane's passengers and crew in a situation in which any other pilot would have lost everyone on board. The rub was that when he did this he was drunk. The movie turns out to be the story of his coming to eventually deal with his alcoholism......in prison. There are many graphic scenes about his alcoholism, drug addiction, and myriad related life issues. The unique thing about him was that his professional functioning was above reproach...it was superior to his sober peers. It was his health and personal life that was an ever worsening disaster. My life was like the one depicted in Flight in so many ways. I was watching the behaviors that t and sue dealt with in me. I was watching someone rationalize that his life was good...after all look at how well he functioned? At the end of the movie, in prison, at the end of his first year of sobriety, speaking to an AA meeting, he talks about how wonderful it is he is free for the first time in his life, and for the first time he begins to discuss the quandry, "Who am I?"
These two experiences, the pre-movie revelation about my feelings regarding sue and t, and then this powerful film and its relevance to my life, left me shaken...but in a positive way. I kept thanking t and sue last night. They were trying to care for me and for themselves. I needed to thank them.. They didn't try to harm me. They didn't mean to betray me. I feel devastated by what happened and feel betrayed. That is not their fault. My feelings are my feelings....nothing more nothing less.
When I was in graduate school in counseling psychology I volunteered for a suicide drug crisis hotline agency as a crisis interventionist. Once I did an outreach to the home of a very poor hispanic migrant worker family. The mother in the family had a psychotic split, and the result of the outreach was our driving her to the hospital to stop her from chasing her family up and down the street with a knife while she rambled incoherently. (I am amazed, as I recall this, that she didn't wind up in jail...but I digress:) I visited her several times in the aftermath and will always recall her looking at me and calling me "her big chicken" (in her state of mind that morning when we came to her home she for whatever reason decided I was "big chicken" and the name stuck for the rest of the times we talked.) As we spoke she would frequently repeat "crazy is crazy" no mas o menos, a mixture of Spanish and English meaning crazy is crazy no more no less. My feelings are my feelings....crazy is crazy.....no mas o menos.
I am grateful for my sobriety. It occurs to me that however I got it it is worth it. I am sorry for what my family had to suffer through with me. I am devastated by what I went through on the way. I hope that will get better. If not there is a great deal that was gained in the exchange and the harm that was done was not done by my family. They were not punishing me. They were trying to survive, and wanted good things for me. My god!!!!!!!
Now I am on to the next day and dealing with more. I awakened happy in this new realization but seemingly unable to let myself be, I am now onto mulling over how empty life feels now.
The wild thing is ("crazy is crazy no mas o manos") that I felt relatively good about myself two years ago, when I drank, before there was jail and police, and convicitons, and treatment, and AA. I apparently was alone in that perception ...but then I didn't have to deal with me drunk:) Now I feel terrible yet, now I am, and feel, healthier. I enjoy really sleeping. I enjoy no hang overs. I can remember the ends of every evening. I don't have to ask what awful thing I did at the end of an evening when I wake up the next morning. We could no longer support my drinking financially what with our changed economic realities and the legal expenses this has cost us. So there are many good things in the transition.
Maybe someday I will feel like a man again.
In ten weeks and 2 days I will be sober two years. All of the health benefits I mentioned, and more, have come to me, and my family never deals with me drunk. That is good.
I never feel as though I celebrate being alive. I used to like to feel that I enjoyed my life and thrilled at what a gift life was. I ate really well.......Now there is gastric bypass surgery and I am way healthier....there is no celebration. I drank. I firmly believed alcohol was the aqua vita of Roman mythology, and felt the spirits literally and figuratively in my drinking. I am much healthier and feel much less alive. I used to smoke. I chose to end that one. I felt smoking was a continual momentary pleasure that celebrated life. I am impressed with how spiritual native American mytholgies are about tobacco. I am much healthier now...I have not smoked for 12 years. I will live longer. I save lots of money. I have way fewer health issues. I am much less happy.
It is amazing that through all of this I still have sue and t. They are hurt by my feeling less than animated by my "new life." sue has posited numerous times, that if the absence of these things in my life makes me unhappy, then I must not love her. If I loved her enough she would be all I would need to be happy.
"Truth telling" not only intervened into the external dynamics between sue and t and I, but effected a much more potent change in my emotional experience.
If I am so much healthier, then why don't I want to be alive like this, why don't I feel like a man, how do I manage to feel like I have my life back, or a new life, or whatever it is that is the mythical "recovery?"
Crazy is crazy no mas o menos