Thursday, 2 December 2010

Rats, resolutions, and decisions

"Wires are inserted directly into excitement centres in the rat's brain, then attached to a depressible pedal in its cage. After discovering the connection between the pedal and the pleasure it brings, the rat depresses the pedal with growing frequency. Gradually the animal neglects other activities. In time it even forgets to eat—and starves to death." (Charles Johnston, MD)
I identify.

True with me and alcohol. True with me and sex addiction and romance addiction (where the sex and the romance are the glass, and the booze consists in the chemicals I produce in my own brain).

It's neat being an addict—once you stop putting chemicals into your body, your body learns to make its own, all by itself. Brings a whole new dimension to what 'clean' can and should mean.

Apparently, if the pedal is disconnected from the drug or jolts of electricity, the rat keeps on pressing down the pedal. And, when it becomes clear there's no more juice coming down the tubes, eventually curls up and dies. Nothing else to live for, huh?

It does not matter where my addictions came from. It does not matter what original deficit the drug (exogenous or endogenous) 'treated'. The addiction takes on a life of its own, and, even when the hit stops being fun, the mere absence of the hit becomes the intolerable state the hit treats. And when the hit then stops treating its absence, I will continue hitting the pedal, now utterly mystified.

And that's when I start 'going on the wagon for keeps' (Alcoholics Anonymous, Fourth Edition, xxx:2).

But I have no other path—there is no other option for me than to return to hitting the pedal (whether that is drinking, acting out sexually or romantically, or thinking about acting out sexually or romantically—that, of course, will produce the same chemical rush as the actual behaviour, which makes a nonsense of bottom lines that focus solely on manifested behaviour).

"They are over-remorseful and make many resolutions but never a decision." (xxx:2)
A resolution is when I say I will never do something again. Drink. Act out. Fantasize. Stick to those damned 'bottom lines' I'm told to stick to before any of the 'real' work can begin . . .

Truth is, as an alcoholic and addict, a resolution is of no use. How can I choose not to go down a path when there is only that path available to me?

If there were a different path, to a life, of a life where I am graced with true happiness, true partnership, true intimacy, true connection, why would I not take it? What looks like the totally baffling failure of alcoholics and sex, relationship, and romance addicts ever to go down the recovery path, appearing, instead, to 'choose' a life of pitiful and incomprehensible demoralisation, is no mystery at all. That is precisely what powerlessness means. There is no choice, without a decision.

So, what is the difference between a resolution and a decision?

A decision is an active choice in favour of the recovery path. This is not an empty play on words.

"Though our decision was a vital and crucial step, it could have little permanent effect unless at once followed by a strenuous effort to face, and to be rid of, the things in ourselves which had been blocking us." (64:0)
In other words, a resolution is a mere intention to abstain. A decision is no decision without prompt and resolute actions that clear the obstacles on the other path, the path to God, to our true selves, and to our fellows, and, once this path is opened up as the obstacles (resentment, fear, and guilt) are removed, I would have to be truly insane not to go down it—and I discover I have no more choice to stay sober and to stay abstinent from addictive sexual and romantic action and fantasy than I had not to use when I was using.

No comments: