“Strange, he thought, the places in yourself that you don’t know about, the deep places inside you that can be weeping all the time that your mouth is talking or laughing.” SEEK THE FAIR LAND, Walter Macken.
Another way of putting the above quotation is “crying on the inside while laughing on the outside.” When I look back at the years of my active addiction, I can now see many of those times when, to all externals, I was the center of attention, having ‘a good old time,’’ and, inside, I was crying, thinking “if they only knew how miserable I feel.” “If they only they knew how stupid I feel.” “If they only …”
The sad part is that I knew, on some level, my life was miserable and yet the only “solution” was to feed the disease that was causing my misery, feed it with alcohol, drugs, anything but an honest discussion.
I was a young seminarian and had recently triggered my disease when I was introduced to Alcoholics Anonymous, brought to a meeting as a visitor. I sat in the back of that smoke filled, relatively dark room and listened to better confessions than I would hear later on in a confessional-box. That night I chain smoked as I listened to the topic of “Honesty” and wanting to get out of there for a drink. Men and women were being honest with one another as I was getting tied up in knots because, again, on some level I could identify with much of what they were sharing but I could not bring myself to say so, probably not even to myself. I wanted to deny it. After all, I wasn’t “that bad.” I “was different.” But, at some level, I knew I wasn’t. When the meeting ended, I escaped to find some company with whom to have a drink. People who drink alone are alcoholics – so I thought.
While I was talking up a good story, my insides were crying. Crying because I was lying to myself and everyone else. Crying, because I could help others ( I was a counselor) and couldn’t help myself. Crying, because I was so damn lonely and alone even as I pushed away people I admired and wanted to be close to.
As my conscious awareness of my unhappiness increased so too was it just as quickly drowned by the denial of reality. I ‘knew’ I was not living up to the values I professed and minimized my behavior on the grounds that “He’s worse than I am.” Deep inside, in the darkest recesses of my mind, something began to stir, and I didn’t like it and didn’t know what to do about it.
It is said we come to AA via “a nudge from the judge or a nod from god.” I believe my Higher Power got tired of giving me a nod and, one Friday afternoon as I was about to leave work, I felt propelled, and I mean I felt propelled into my boss’s office saying ‘I think I have a drinking problem.” After four-and-a-half years of a dry drunk, I finally began to work the program as it is meant to be lived and I realized that it was my HP who took a more affirmative action and propelled me into the beginning of getting the help I needed to look at where I was crying on the inside.
It is strange “the places in yourself that you don’t know about, the deep places inside you that can be weeping…” Some years after I got into the program, I learned about muscle memory and how the body retains memory of trauma, stress, and negativity and locks it in until such times as we are ready to deal with it.
Louise Doughty wrote: Muscle has memory: the body knows things the mind will not admit.” I can still recall the time I was referred to a therapist trained in the art of Rolfing. The first session was delightful and I looked forward to the next. In the second session, the therapist had barely touched my muscle when I gritted my teeth and muttered something I can’t write. He leaned down and whispered “you have my permission to say what comes to mind.” I did. That experience opened a whole new chapter of emotions long buried and “forgotten” about except in the muscle.
Living the program, working the steps, sharing at meetings, rereading the Big Book, and talking to a sponsor slowly opened my unconscious awareness, made it more conscious, brought it to light and life, and helped bury that which needed to be buried in a healthy wholesome and spiritual manner. Thank God for this program, for Rolfing and good therapists.
Greater New Orleans