|O'Doul's- the non-alcoholic beer|
But for an addict, they have everything in common.
(1) The Hawks
I feel pretty lame, and in some ways traitorous, but as a Chicagoan for over half a century, I should have been posting on Facebook like all of my young friends.
OMG! ANOTHER WIN!!!!
THEY DID IT AGAIN!!And I should have been to a game, and I should have been at the rally, a huge Mardi Gras that many are still talking about. The pictures in the paper make me feel that as a blogger I missed a tremendous photo op. Foiled again.
The Hawks won the Stanley Cup in 2010, too, and the revelry in the city made the angels in Heaven look down and wonder if perhaps they should attend. Nothing could be better.
And indeed, if you looked closely at the celebrations, you would have thought we found Osama bin Laden. No, really, the two don't compare. The only thing that compares with the feeling are other titles, the World Series, the NBA championship. Entire cities can't get out of bed the next day.
Players, fans alike, sodden in beer, the Mayor declared last Friday a Ferris Bueller's Day Off. No self-respecting lawyer worked. Chicagoans, proud of the accomplishment of their team, partied like it was . . . .2010.
Those of us in my business hear about it up close and personal just a little differently. The desire for social inclusion is very strong. And drinking, as any fool knows, makes socializing much easier. The shy among us develop a personality they never had, sober. Drinking is a lubricant, a way to find that brave, intelligent, funny person inside. Who wouldn't want to do that?
It is also a way to alcohol dependency. What is fascinating is that over-indulging is encouraged in the cooler companies, at least once a month, a perk! Employees are invited to go out on one Friday, a "no-work" day, on the company tab. Drink until you see double, or perhaps aspirate on your pretzels and peanuts.
Sounds like fun. But if you are an alcoholic in recovery, and new on the job especially, wanting to fit in, it isn't fun. It is torture. You go and sip your O'doul's, your non-alcoholic beverage, and you remember how you used to celebrate with your friends merely that it was Friday, because after all, you had worked a full week and that, for many, is a cause for celebration. You are angry-- livid-- that you are the only one out with your colleagues-- not getting high.
Perhaps you remember celebrating the Stanley Cup win by the Hawks in 2010. You don't remember it well, but you do remember the revelry, the communal high. Being cool. Among friends.
If you are in AA, maybe, at that one-Friday-a-month work bash at the trendiest bar, you text your sponsor who writes back, GET OUT OF THERE AND GO TO A MEETING. But you don't want to go to a meeting, don't want to be with those people. You want to be with these people, the ones who are having so much fun. You want to be a part of this party, to be the funny woman, the funny man, that person who is laughing it up. You don't want to be mature, emotionally excluded, out of the loop, detached, and boring.
If you make it through the afternoon unscathed, you tell your therapist the next week how angry you are that you have to be an addict, that you can't drink, that forevermore you can't party, can't be a part of this wonderful abandon.
The therapist tells you it is good to be angry, good to grieve that loss, because being like this, drinking to abandon, is an attraction to you, even though you know it is very much like being a child, perhaps three-years-old, plus or minus a few. The selfishness, the need for attention, the desire for undivided attention, special attention, is roaring. It was great being three, it was great being a child, but adulthood, finally, has set in.
Welcome to your bar mitzvah, I like to say. We Jews have big (sober, used to be) parties to celebrate becoming a man, a woman. It is a different world, by far, adulthood. A better one, really. You get to drive, not just a car, but your life. Now you are responsible, have to quit blaming everyone else.
(2) Gay Pride
I love the gay pride parade, let's get that straight. But like the Stanley Cup celebration, for addicts, it has its downside.
Not to cast aspersions, but some people come to therapy for sex addictions. Not that the percentages of sex addictions (obsessed!) are higher for the sexual minorities, my guess, they are not, but sex addicts, like all others with dependencies, have triggers. One of them is being among others who are, what in my day we would have called, promiscuous.I don't think the word exists anymore.
Most sex addicts are on the internet, not the streets, buying porn, passing it to their friends, or selling it, or they have sunk to other levels. This aside to lend perspective to the idea that being gay and openly looking for love-as-a-one-night-stand is a mere sub-category of sex-addiction. Ministers come to therapists to ask what to tell their straight porn-loving parishioners, or their spouses. So we're not throwing stones on anyone's parade here. An obsession with sex is not a gay thing.
That said, the Gay Pride Parade in Chicago, if you haven't been to one, is a love fest and a must see. The colors, the joy, that feeling, pride, makes all of us happy, and it is so hard to find pride and happiness like this on an average day.
We're Americans, born to a culture with Puritan roots, so being proud of ourselves for merely having a sexual self at all, is hard. Ninety percent of us pray, or used to, according to a Life Magazine poll, not that we can believe that number. But it even if it is fifty percent it is significant. And the gods, last we heard from them, those of us from the Big Three religions, aren't saying that being gay is a good thing.
Gay pride parades in Heaven? Unlikely. But maybe!
So I ask my gay patients, Are you going to the parade this week? The newly out of the Ikea armoire are excited. Yes! Looking forward to being with my people, seeing people who understand. I'm looking forward to openly being proud!
The sex addicted, the ones who handle their feelings by impulsively running off to pick up someone to take someplace to have sex, give a resounding NO!
Do you know what people do at the parade? They look for someone like me to grope, to follow around, to hook up with. Do you know what that feels like to someone who actually wants to be groped, be followed, be loved? It is irresistible. So no.Proof positive that it isn't necessary to follow the crowd, to be where everyone else seems to want to be. Better, my alcoholics tell me, to figure out who we are, watch it all on television, all the revelry, the parades, and do a little soul searching, maybe, just maybe, think back on some of those memories, the ones that ultimately drive us to therapy.
The memories are the generic form or Antabuse* for every addiction.
*Antabuse is a drug that if you take it before drinking reacts violently with alcohol, makes you physically ill. Some take it when they think they are vulnerable so that they won't drink. Nobody wants to get sick like that and you won't drink if you're very sure that you will.