Friday, November 11, 2011

“Freed From Insanity”

That was the title for one of this week’s “Just For Today”. I saw it pop up in my email and it was almost as if an entire blog entry appeared before my eyes, fully formed in my mind, waiting to be written. And then, of course, several days went by while I did that whole life thing.

Today is a holiday and I’ve got the day off from work. There’s laundry to do, music to be made, and I’m starting it all off at my favorite coffee shop. Now that I’ve turned my attention back to the blog, I find myself thinking, “oh that’s right, I was going to write about THAT! Gosh, I had all kinds of good things to say about that... what was I going to say???” Oh well. This former stoner’s unreliable memory will just have to be accepted as I move forward. Because the topic is a good one, regardless of what I might have been going to say before.

We talk a lot in meetings about the insanity of the Disease. We’ve gone to all kinds of insane lengths to get drunk or to get loaded. We do all kinds of crazy things when we are intoxicated. But there is so much more to the insanity of the Disease than just how we relate to substances. The way we live our very lives is insane. We have poor boundaries at best; our personal lives are the shambles; we do things that affect others without any regard for them. We don’t think of other people; we are all too often incapable of doing so. We are stuck in our own little worlds, thinking that smallness to be the entire universe. And when reality intrudes, reminds us that there is a much larger world out there beyond what our limited perspectives are capable of perceiving, we react wildly. Violently. We don’t like it when the bubble of our denial is pierced.

As I’ve worked the program and found what I’ve found through doing so, I don’t really see myself as being ‘restored’ to sanity. If I were, that would somehow imply that at some point in my life I had been sane. Looking back, even before I first picked up, I can see the insanity of my behavior and my thinking. Now, being where I am, I can still feel those impulses in my brain. From time to time, they still get out, still run my life. Thank god for the tenth step. Because I still have everything in me that I walked into the rooms with.

As we go about our lives, we will encounter countless others who don’t live their lives by the spiritual principles we strive to live by. Sometimes they are active addicts, sometimes severe codependents, sometimes they’re just assholes. Sometimes, they’re none of the above, and simply don’t behave the way we wish they would. An ongoing struggle for me is boundaries. I meet people who are like I was, and I have to continually remind myself that I’m not responsible for them. I’m not responsible for their lives, their problems, I’m only responsible for me.

Some people get confused when I say things like that. They talk about that quote posted in so many rooms: “I am responsible.” And I explain to them as gently as I can how that means when someone asks for help, that’s when I help them. Because trying to help someone who doesn’t want it, who hasn’t shown the willingness to let themselves be helped, that leads straight to my going back to being insane. Because if I do that, then I’m not accepting the things I can’t change. When someone asks for help, that’s the key. It’s why I don’t tell people I’m going to sponsor them; I wait for them to ask me.

Some days it really breaks my heart to see others stuck in the insanity of their lives. So often, they live that way because they think they have to. I want to help them see that they don’t have to, that there is another way. But even those feelings are judgmental, because it’s not up to me to decide what is right or wrong for others. It’s up to them to decide if they want to be free or not. Because some people don’t! Some people would much rather stay with the insanity they know than try living differently. No matter how much they might hate it, they’ll stay stuck because it’s easier, more familiar. All I can really do is remember my boundaries, help them if they want help, and not take on responsibility that isn’t mine. And I can be grateful for my own freedom.

And I am. I am so grateful to have been freed, so grateful to not have to do all that anymore.

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