I haven't been drinking, as much. This has less to do with health precautions and is more of a test to see if and how much I could pull back from drinking, which hasn't ever been a problem. I've never been addicted to anything, let alone drinking. However, if I'm saying that I'm not addicted to drinking, then I have to acknowledge that my desire to drink is the result of a conscious choice ... just like my choice to be sober. Both of these choices, however, are symptoms of a greater issue.
When we think of distractions, we think of negative behaviors that keep us from confronting a larger issue in our life that must be dealt with. When I had a paper due in college, I would often put it off to the last minute, but I would do that by doing chores that I'd been putting off: mopping, vacuuming, washing dishes, etc... Everything I did was something that needed to be done under normal circumstance, but the fact that they needed to be done were a symptom of the larger issue of how my procrastination would often lead me to feeling overwhelmed. By doing chores when I actually had something else more pressing to do, writing the paper, I turned the chores into a distraction and a form of control. I was only doing them to provide a sense of control because the idea of working on the paper made me feel helpless and incompetent.
I procrastinated because I was afraid. A way to handle fear is to find something to control.
Well, sobriety and drunkenness are both forms of control, but they are control for the sake of control. It's control as a means to distract myself from the larger issue I'm distracting myself from. By indulging in things like drinking, I'm able to "go sober" whenever I want to feel better about myself. But that form of self-help is largely a lateral move in the grand scheme - just like the chores were. My choices exists as a reaction to another area of my life that feels lacking. Until I confront the larger issue (beyond sober and drunk), every form of self-help will actually be a lateral, zero-sum, move But what is the larger issue?
To answer that, I have to ask: why am I sober now and why did I think that was a good idea? All of my clothes are stained with ink, blood, or other bodily fluids. I don't make enough money to save in any real way. What is sobriety going to afford me - the ability to really appreciate a sun rise for the first time in my life? Yeah that sounds really fuckin' fun. Sobriety isn't for people like me; it's for the old leathery dudes with estranged families. Sobriety is for people who are trying to make sense of the Rorschach style splatter their life became after they hit rock bottom, right? By drinking, at least I still have some movement in my life, even if it is in the negative direction. In the context of my life, I really don't have a healthy outlet for sobriety. I just wanted to feel better about myself.
So I cut back on drinking. Drinking was a distraction in the same way thinking sobriety would make life better.
Bookstore style self-help is self-destruction on a leash. It's existential whiskey dick. Self-help is largely sold to people who want to make the lateral moves in their life feel like actual momentum towards something better. Self help is marketed towards fears about ourselves. Anytime I buy a book, I'm really buying into the idea that I'm the kind of person who thinks reading books will make me better in some way. It's hard for me to face the guilt of admitting I will most likely leave the book, unread, on the shelf for years until I sell it in a yard sale to a some fool who'll do the same. What I should say to myself, when looking through a bookshelf, is, "you're not going to read this." There's a chance I might read it, but at this point in life, I'd rather not waste my time with chances. Taking on the task of growing as a person isn't a gamble.
Also, I don't believe in the idea of self-help because I don't believe a younger version of me knows what's best for an older version of me. It's simple logic. How many times have you looked at the past and thought, "Man, look at my haircut in this picture. I was a fucking idiot." Are you really going to let that guy have a say in your life? Well, as a rule of thumb, you were probably dumber when you were younger. The sad thing is, we need to be dumb. I wouldn't be as smart as I am today if I hadn't been dumb in the past. I had to find my intelligence. I had to earn my solutions.
Recognizing the need for lateral self-help typically occurs when you hit a wall in your life and you need to make some kind of change. After months of eating garbage and feeling like shit, you make the association that maybe the reason you can't fit into your TGIF uniform is from eating all that shit. So you start to loose weight. But where does that get you? All you're doing is trying to fit comfortably in your TGIF uniform so you can feel a little better about yourself? That's what my life is. By going sober, my ultimate goal is to fit better into my TGIF sized life. Do you know how depressing that is? Drinking and sobriety will always take a back seat to that problem.
Is there an answer to this realization?
Usually when you see someone say, "I've got it figured out now." What they're saying is, "I'm doing something different now that appears to be new and exciting to me, yet when the veneer of newness wears off, I'll still have to confront the truth that I am still me operating under the issue of larger problems." Usually these people are ones who think life can be lived by adhering finite philosophies and motivational posters. They think life is a game that can be won. They think that life can be controlled and stabilized for maximum comfort. They think answers learned today will always work.
This is impossible. This manic delusion is as self-destructive as last call shots of whiskey. This type of thinking is something we all engage in and is an example of why we live in a world where self-help exists. People don't want to do the work. Truths about ourselves must constantly revised to match what is actually happening in our life. They must be flexible to meet the reality of our life. Truths about ourselves exist like technology that is continually being updated and then made obsolete when something more relevant comes along. Running or working out as much as you want might have been a solution once upon a time, but when they become a distraction, they stop helping. The ability to know when that change happens is the result of being aware.
When we don't adapt to our reality, we begin to control the symptoms and not the problem because we are no longer able to recognize the problem. Then we stop growing because we are protecting a version of us that doesn't actually exist anymore. The lucky thing is that I, like many people, am not locked into any one belief system. However, at the core of what I am today is this idea that I think too much about where I should be, rather than contending where I am today. This is a fault in how I take in my reality. In order to take in the reality of today, I have to remain dynamic, flexible and tolerant of the things that guide me. At a later age, I can settle down and become a one note person. And by saying "one note person" I am not implying an absence of growth. What I am implying is that hopefully as I get older, I will have learned what is right for me and my understanding of those things will on become more refined. I will become one note in the same way some comedians are ultimately telling the same jokes over and over again. It's the comedian - not the jokes - that must get better. The only way to get better is to learn what material is an organic extension of the performer, and what material is the result of insecurity. Learning our "one note" is the result of a clear point of view, and it will help us to say what we really mean. For me to get better, I have to contend with where I am, rather than where I wish I was. I am me at this moment. There are no absolutes. This person is someone who stopped learning and began protecting. No amount of self help will do any good if you don't know who you really are.
This is a TGIF sized life.
Real self-help operates on the same principle of knowing yourself. And not in that bullshit "I'm a drunk, that's why I drink. I can't help it!" sort of way. I'm saying all distractions are the result of a fundamental error in our approach to living. Rewards occur when life is being lived correctly. Distractions are rewards corrupted by living incorrectly. Anything in life that is a distraction is a symptom of living incorrectly. The goal is to figure out how to diagnose the real problem as opposed to medicating yourself with drugs and booze and eating vegan and exercising too much. Real self-help is only achievable when the defenses come down. When you expose your vulnerabilities to the world. When you say the thing you're afraid to admit to yourself. When you stop protecting the parts of yourself that are actually damaging you. Real self help isn't self help because it doesn't play on your fears.