I wrote “Overcome Any Personal Obstacle, Including Alcoholism, By Understanding Your Ego” – http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/leewriter – with two major goals in mind: 1) Understand why and how my wife Amy of over 19 years committed a slow suicide via alcohol and why I too nearly destroyed my life even though we both knew alcohol was the last thing we should have been consuming; and 2) share my “come to Jesus/Buddha” insights with others who want to overcome whatever addiction they’re in the spell of. This blog is an extension of the fundamentals from that book.
Until two days ago, I thought I understood that my problem from about 2000 through 2010 was that I was a practicing, dysfunctional alcoholic who couldn’t stop drinking. On the surface, that was true. Upon a further, deeper review (it’s like having a crew of NFL officials and high-tech video equipment at one’s disposal only instead of disputed plays, you examine the truth of your life), I found my real problem: I was addicted to separating myself from the rest of the universe.
That obsession with “it’s me against the world) is symptomatic of an egocentric mindset or what Paul Levy calls ME or Malignant Egophrenia (http://www.realitysandwich.com). When you buy into the ego’s (Satan’s) powerful, alluring argument – you’re better, more important and more deserving of getting the good things than anyone else simply because you’re you – that also means you erect imaginary but very real psychic walls that separate you from your fellow citizens of Planet Earth. And that isolation colors everything you do.
For me, thinking I was fundamentally different than everyone else allowed me to justify foolish actions and inactions on my part. The inaction piece of that equation was my not having a long, serious dialogue (or series of dialogues) with Amy about our respective addictions to alcohol and how we could address our issues.
On the flip side, my unwise actions included drinking margaritas with beer chasers during my lunch break from my accounting job in Eden Prairie (2006); going home to drink during my lunch hour and not returning to work for over two hours (also 2006); mixing Trazadon (sleeping aid) with alcohol (2005-2006); going on two- and three-day binges (one resulted in a trip to the St. Paul detox); drinking too much and driving (2006); going on 4- and 5-day binges that landed me in the Hastings detox four times (2010); and a plethora of other stupid acts too numerous to mention here.
The symptom of my problem was drinking too much, too often at the wrong time and in the wrong situations. But what I was really addicted to was separation. Separation from my problems, separation from taking responsibility for my actions (and my failure to act), separation from the courage to address my issues head on, and separation from thinking or feeling. In Pink Floyd terms, I was obsessed with being comfortably numb. The problem the alcohol kept wearing off and I was stuck having to deal with all the bad karma I created by running from my problems for so long. What my egocentric mindset started — a gap or separation from the rest of the universe — alcoholism exacerbated so much that I had effectively dropped out of the human race. I stood on the sidelines and watched real people deal with their issues, sometimes fail miserably but at least they were trying, and also celebrate their triumphs.
The good news about completely screwing things up for a significant part of your life is that if you accept the foolishness of your actions, which is to say you embrace Anatta, which literally means “Not-Self,” or that there is nothing about us that does not change, nothing about us that is permanent. And that includes an addiction to separation which leads to an addiction to alcohol.