Out From Under the Umbrella

playing in the rain


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The Bane of Reason

elephant-room

The Elephant in the Room

I feel like I’m normally a voice of reason, level-headed and on an even keel.  Most of the time, these days anyway, I don’t get triggered. So when I was totally out of the blue it sent me into a spiral of sorts. I haven’t experienced that in quite some time.

Being triggered, for me, sets into motion a whole chain of negative self-talk and along with it self-doubt. In a sort of PTSD-like fashion it sends me right back to that place where I was before I escaped the situation that led to the PTSD to begin with.

Usually, not always, when it’s words that trigger, there’s what’s actually said, and what I understand the words to mean.

Someone might say, “How could such an intelligent person believe (insert whatever nonsense you like)?”  I hear, “Damn, you sure are stupid.”

When I hear, “Damn, you sure are stupid,”  I start to reevaluate every negative thing that’s happened in my life and come to the astounding realization that, “Damn, I sure am stupid.  And if I weren’t so stupid most of that wouldn’t have even happened.”

Belief in talking snakes and global floods?  Stupidity on my part.

Sexually assaulted?  Stupidity on my part.

Involved in an abusive relationship?  Utter stupidity on my part.

For two fucking decades?  Unimaginably, astonishingly stupid!

No one has to say it.   I already know it.  When someone even implies it, it only confirms what I believe about myself even when it flies in the face of logic and reason.  Belief doesn’t have to be reasonable.

The reality is(nothing like a dose of reality to kick you in the head), it doesn’t really even matter the words that are said.  Another person’s opinion of me or my situation doesn’t make it reality and it doesn’t change who I really am.  No, the triggering part is the words I say to myself.  What the fuck difference does someone else’s opinion of me make? It doesn’t make me less of a person.  It is my beliefs about myself that make me feel less off a person.

Therein lies the rub:  I know that logically.  It’s my feelz that get me into trouble.  Emotions –  fear, anger, sadness, joy, and yes, even love are the bane to the existence of logic and reason.  Yet none of us ever are always logical or reasonable.  I am not Dr. Spock of Star Trek fame.  I am fully human.  And as much as I value reason and intellect I have to admit I’m not always reasonable.  And I can surely do some stupid things.

We all can.  If that were not so there wouldn’t be so many normally intelligent people who are divorced twelve times, or who lose their fortunes betting on a long-shot, or who fall for some of the most far-fetched scams imaginable. It happens.  And you wonder how such smart people can do such stupid things.

luggage

I have a big pile of baggage. No, it’s not a matching set.  I forget about it until it falls out of the closet like an avalanche on my head.

All of us come each day and to each post with our own sets of baggage; with whatever is bothering us that day, or whatever is happening at home that day, or whatever exciting things are happening for us that day.  We each come to every post, no matter how hard we try not to, with our preconceived notions of how the world works; the oughts and ideals which we value and hold dear – not necessarily reality or how things really are.

Life is hard and it’s messy.  Each of has in our own minds our various issues and insecurities.  We have our own niggles, things that eat at us and erode our sense of self-worth and security.  We all have our own perspectives even if they’re flawed.  We can only see from our own lenses no matter how hard we try to put on the goggles of another.  We can’t ever truly know what another has experienced or the stuff they’ve been through.  It would serve us all well, especially me, to remember that.

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Chemically Dependent – The Devil’s in the Details

Last night I attended a meeting about substance abuse. The meeting’s moderator/leader was energetic, excited, excitable, and, frankly, much like some preachers/Bible teachers I’ve sat under.  He reminded me of a used car salesman. You know the ones…they have amateur commercials, screaming about how they’ve got the best deals in town.  He did have the gift of gab and I found him very entertaining.  In short, he probably could sell ice to an Eskimo.

Using a dry erase board, saying medical terms he probably wasn’t pronouncing correctly – nor spelling correctly, he listed the things that happen in the body of an addict, and why it’s a disease or an illness and not just a will power thing.  Stuff I already knew, having done a ton of reading on the topic.  Enzymes don’t break down drugs and alcohol in the body of an addict the same way they do a healthy person. He likened addiction to diabetes.  I’m not sure if that’s true; it’s what he said.

Then he said something about faith in God and this is what I heard:

Image

Good grief, Charlie Brown!

BUT then he asked a very pointed question. “Is there anything you’ve ever had an obsession about?”  The other members of the group started spouting off things like food, shopping, men, etc.  I was pretty quiet because I’m still trying to suss out this crowd.  But my ears perked up when he said that part of the reason addiction is so hard to break is that they have some belief about the object of their obsession. Beliefs are what?  A form of faith.  What do we normally associate faith with?  God.

The belief doesn’t have to be true; they just have to believe it. For example, ‘alcohol makes me smarter, or more witty, or more likeable’, or ‘food makes me feel better’, or ‘I’m saving money buying this on sale’ – even if it’s something you’ll never use.  People who are addicted had a chemical reaction in their brain the first time they did any one of those things that told them it would always be true.  It’s the same chemical that is our connection to God, he said.

At this point he had my attention.

He went on about how strong our beliefs are and how we stand on those beliefs.  No matter what negative information we receive, no matter what we’re threatened with, no matter how our lives come off the wheels, we stand on our beliefs.  We’ll say or do almost anything to defend them.  That is why it is so hard for an addict to break the cycle of abuse because of their beliefs about whatever they are addicted to.  Their belief in their substance or action has become a god.

The members of the group made a connection that addiction was a chemically induced connection with a substance that, only when the addict understands this, can they change their beliefs or start forming new beliefs about the substance.  Only then can they start to combat the lies they’ve believed about the substance.

As with everything else, I guess, the devil is in the details.  None of the group members, nor the group leader, recognized that their faith in God is also chemically induced and could possibly be based on erroneous beliefs. They heard it, but did they believe it? Thus their faith remains unexamined.  I have previously written about being Addicted to God and what it’s like to break that addiction.

I’m not certain how scientifically sound any of what he said actually is.  In a cursory Google search I came across this NPR piece that seems to support the idea that God is a chemical in our brains.  Geez…why couldn’t I have believed in a cool god that has sacred herbs as sacraments?