Hesaid/Shesaid

Hesaid by Christopher Kennedy Lawford

An Addict Responds Positively

Remember when I stumbled into recovery twenty-four years ago and that therapist we went to see who didn’t know shit about relationships asked me to describe myself and I said, “Well, I guess I’d say I’m a nice guy who never meant to hurt anyone.” And he asked me if I thought other people in my life saw me the same way and I said that I guessed most of them did. You probably disagreed, although I don’t remember. Granted, it was a generic, one-dimensional assessment – but I think it pretty much summed me up at the time – I was pretty shut down and unaware. I’m sure you’d agree that this is not how I or anyone else would describe me today.

Today, I’d say the best of me is my unrelenting sensitivity, which often makes life and this world difficult to bear, but is the source of my passion, empathy, search for higher meaning and my need to connect to others on a deep level.

Cut to the continuing chatter of the voices in my head:

Voiceinhead #1

Man, this focusing on the positive is a bitch!

Voiceinmyhead #2

You can turn any positive into a negative

Voiceinmyhead #1

And visa-versa. It gets confusing…sensitivity can lead to isolation, intolerance and inability to trust.

Voiceinmyhead #3

Stay focused fellas, we’re doing positive – remember?

What? Right… I know…I went into my head again. It drives you crazy, doesn’t it? It’s my process. I have to examine things from every angle. It drives me nuts but it’s also the way I get to deeper understanding and that’s important to me. There’s so much going on in the world, between all of us, how can you possibly understand the intricacies of the human condition and experience if you aren’t interested in nuance and exploring the depths. You can’t see behind the curtain without relentless investigation. And it’s so fucking interesting – don’t you think?

By the way, I know you’re probably wondering how I’d describe myself today, and how I think others see me. Well, you and I both know that nobody would leave it at nice guy. I’m not even sure nice would come up. What do you think? You know why I ask what you think all the time don’t you?

Voiceinmyhead #1,#2,#3

Because your insecure?

Shut up! It’s because it matters to me what you think. I know I don’t express it very often, but I like it when you support me. I like being connected to you, feeling you’ve got my back and we’re in this together. Anyway, today I’d say I’m searching and complicated, with a strong need to experience all aspects of myself. That sounds pretty narcissistic, I know, but it’s kind of like an amusement park – you’ve got to go on all the rides to figure out the ones you like – then you can just ride them. You’re not buying it are you? I don’t care, this is my blog, and the truth is I’m closer to the full spectrum of adjectives one might use to describe a human being then I’ve ever been in my life. I think I know two things: I’m nearer to my true self than I have ever been and I have a good heart – like most of the drunks and dope fiends I’ve run into trudging this bumpy, exhilarating road of recovery.

Shesaid by Adele Slaughter

How do Alanons react to things, positively?

Some 20 plus years ago my (then) mother-in-law told me that our character defects are our assets gone overboard. At the time that was a radical idea to me as I imagined that my personality was like Swiss cheese, riddled with holes. The idea that there was something positive about my controlling, smug, arrogant, self-righteous qualities gave me some hope. Of course I didn’t make it to a 12 Step program for another couple of years and the devil I chose to dance with was my own arrogance. But this blog is meant to be about the positive ways someone with codependency issues might react.

I, who have lived with active alcoholism, have some recovery at turning bitterness into sweetness.

Often my first reaction to conflict is: “What’s wrong with me?”  Thus, I look at my faults first, and own up to my mistakes, most of the time. Miss takes. We all make them. It is healthy and good, to be able to say, “Gosh, I didn’t mean to insult you, please don’t take offense. I can see how you might feel that way.”  I am committed to change and growth.

I find that people who grew up in radically alcoholic families are sensitive, gentle and aware of other people’s feelings, I know I am. I am genuinely pleased at success of people close to me. I am super helpful and infinitely organized and get things accomplished. Give me a job to do, and it will get accomplished.

Generally, I am fully wide-awake…what once was hyper vigilance has been turned into being aware and fully present to the moment. I know that often I react to things the way a young child experiences life, with joy and glee at the beauty in the world around her.

But I want to talk about something a bit off the topic to bring the whole discussion home. The whole subject of “dependency” is an interesting one, because codependent has become such a negative, catch all term. We are all dependent on one another. And there are healthy dependencies like brushing your teeth for example, you can’t be addicted to brushing your teeth. I mean try not doing it for a week and see how you feel. Gross. You need to brush your teeth every day. Things that are healthy are not addictions.

Which brings me to Love; wanting to give and receive love is healthy too. Most of us want love. I want to be inter-dependent. Not leaning on someone else, but in a dance. It seems to me that the best thing about being an Alanon is that for most of us our most profound desire is to be loved and to give love.  And I haven’t given up on love no matter how many times my heart has been broken. I use the heart breaking as a way to expand myself, a broken heart has helped me develop a bigger consciousness.

I loved my father, profoundly, and he drank (a lot) and was a deeply disturbed man. He was also warm and funny, irreverent and witty.  Love is the finest thing people can give each other and perhaps it is the only thing we can really give. Most people who struggle with alcoholism and find recovery are loving, accepting human beings. This has been my challenge to learn how to accept others as they are and when I’m able to do that, I am a good friend indeed, one you’d want to keep.

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~ by Christopher Kennedy Lawford on July 26, 2010.

4 Responses to “Hesaid/Shesaid”

  1. One of my favorite paradoxes. There are those who scream no codependence and boundaries. All those boundaries often become walls, which are only retracted by self will and indulgence.
    The truth is we are dependent, and if we do not rely on that and give it back, as it was so freely given to us, we have little chance of staying on this road.
    But if you stay in the middle of the road, with the rest of us, the guardrails ( often flimsy) are not as necessary.
    Thank you.

  2. Gorgeous. It’s often hard to explain to those we care about that it’s the self-examining “narcissist” in us that makes us people that others can live with. And, most importantly, it keeps us on this side of the cliff that we can come up against when our gorgeous sensitivities runneth over and the world appears more than unbearable to us. We are who we are. And in the end, we’ll probably know more about human possibilities, “good” and “bad” than anyone else. Beautiful, ugly, exhilarating – HUGE. Thank God, yes?

  3. I’m enjoying these shesaid/hesaid pieces. As an Al Amon/addict, it’s fascinating to watch both sides of who I am revealed. I’m glad that you are continuing to do them.

  4. Yo Christopheere,

    Thanks for censoring me again, motherfucker! And if you encounter any “heretic” at any future AA meeting you attend, remember to give them the saintly AA snub!

    Mark

    Marco

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