After a day or so of feeling distinctly wobbly in my recovery, I became slightly demeaning towards myself for these presidential ambitions.
These sinking feelings were catalyzed by a moment at which I sat at my computer, which serves as my little portal into the world, my gateway into the thoughts and feelings of people all over the planet. It’s where I find out about hurricanes in the South, wildfires in the Northwest. It’s where I’m informed of potentially world-annihilating peen-measuring contests between prominent world leaders, and so many other problems all over the globe (or plate, or whatever you flat-Earthers call it) that I don’t seem to have much direct control over. Often, the Internet is where I find out that my friends are experiencing financial catastrophes of various degrees, or their pets are missing, or someone they love had is sick or has passed away. Some of my online friends are very sick, and the Internet is my primary way of staying connected with them, to offer them whatever support and hope I can spare.
I want to help them all. Everyone, everywhere. And yes, I know that’s a fault of mine, from most sane perspectives. I know it’s impossible, by most standard definitions. To take on the weight of all those problems by myself as an individual is absolutely insane and detrimental to my health, wellbeing, and recovery.
Because I can’t do it alone.
Have you seen the film, A Beautiful Mind? It’s in many ways one of the most personally inspirational movies I’ve ever seen. I’ve always been fascinated by Russell Crowe’s portrayal of Professor John Nash, a genius who learns to thrive in life despite a decades-long struggle with reality-warping delusions. One of Nash’s ideas that stuck with me ever since I first saw that film, was that with enough cleverness and effort, we could create a formula in which there are no losers anymore. Everyone wins.
Sounds like a pipe dream to some, but I’ve dedicated my life to cracking that formula, and I’ve seen sufficient evidence in my own life that a world where everyone wins is not only possible, but inevitable.
But how do we get there? How do we go from a paradigm of “dog eat dog to stay alive” to a new era of “dog feed dog to rise and thrive”?
As with many solutions, the answer is simple but not necessarily easy.
We, as a global culture, would be wise to embrace the task of redefining our relationships with ourselves and one another so that we see all of humankind as components of a larger body.
And this actually goes beyond humankind. Humans are part of this wondrous living Earth, and we share this planetary body with all of living Nature.
Insisting that we are separate from or superior to other beings we share this planetary body with, would be like some of the cells in your physical body declaring war on other cells. Unfortunately, many humans know how tragic it can be when this happens to us physically. And we, as a global society, definitely know how tragic it is when humanity lives like this in a larger sense.
Getting to the point of global unity is a process that will take massive amounts of patience and work. Not everyone is able to see and embrace this vision yet, so this process requires a deep sensitivity to other people’s distinct visions of reality. Everyone has earned the right to see the world the way they do. Everyone. Every single person has cried, endure loss and hardship, had hopes and dreams, bled, and was raised in a geo-political region they had no control over. Everyone deserves a chance to be understood, to be heard.
When we listen more closely, others will lower their voices.
When we lower our voices, others are more likely to listen to us.
I could definitely explore deeply into this thought process and get lost in an ocean of rabbit holes most exquisite, but that’s beyond present scope.
Main point for now being, that I believe in a world where everyone wins, and I yearn to enter into that paradigm. But I can’t do it alone. When I try to fly solo, the pressure overwhelms me. Like trying to move a piano by myself without eating breakfast first. Just ridiculous.
So, back to last night. I’d been coasting along through my usual, “Try to help everyone” routine, when I suddenly realized I was in too deep. Shit. It would be nice to realize before it’s too late. Maybe I can next time, if I pay closer attention.
My body started tensing up. I started having compulsions for fast food and cheap beer, which made my body tense up more. My hands made tight claws. Damn it!
Who wants an alcoholic president? Who would elect someone who can’t control their own money because of their stupid hedonistic impulses?
Of course, those thoughts made it worse. Before I knew it, I was at the fast-food drive thru. Then, because this was a special kind of freak-out, I went by another fast-food drive thru across the street. Then got beer. Then went home. Then went wild.
That’s actually not the whole story.
Earlier that day, I called a friend I haven’t been on clear terms with in a while, and made plans to go to yoga the next day. I’d been putting off calling for a while, but yesterday determined that putting things off wasn’t very presidential. I was happy with that choice.
Also, when I started thinking about binge-eating and drinking yesterday, first I called a local recovery house to find out if they host SMART Recovery meetings. That call was kind of an internal bargain with myself: “Andrew, if you’re going to do this self-limiting thing tonight, please do something that will give you a way out of this hole too.” I was pleased with myself for making that call (in the past at most intervals, I wouldn’t have).
By the way, SMART Recovery meetings are Mondays at 7 pm in Lansing, if anyone wants to come with me next week and beyond.
After I got my vice-binge out of the way last night, I slept for a few hours. After waking up, one of the first things I did was chat with my partner about what happened.
I told her about the binge, and about my insecurities and other remorseful feelings about my indiscretions with money, and how that’s inappropriate and out of alignment with my aspirations.
She soothed me, like she does so well. She pointed out how far I’ve come, how much progress I’ve made with money and recovery. She lifted me up, and told me to have faith.
And that’s one of the over-abundance of reasons that she is my partner. She believes in me the way I believe in myself, and that is part of the key to a world where everyone wins. Everyone, believing in themselves, and promoting the growth and elevation of everyone else.
So, what did I do next? Decided for one, to shut down the computer for a day. I’m writing this post from an AlphaSmart 3000 word processor, an excellent no-distraction writing device (it’s a keyboard with a screen) that I can plug into a computer via USB later and load this document into Word or whatever. Good stuff. Highly recommended. My partner bought it for me from eBay for like $20.
(I find it funny that while I may have a chip on my shoulder about advertising, I find myself now going into a sales spiel for a discontinued product. Anyway…)
A few minutes before I started writing this, I was taking the trash outside, thinking of what I wanted to talk about in a counseling session later today. I don’t remember my exact thought process, but my mind started getting excited, bouncing from thing-to-thing-to-thing. I stopped myself and realized right then: This is it. This is one of my problems, right here. Usually when my mind gets excited and bouncy like that, it’s because I really enjoy whatever it is I am thinking about, so it doesn’t seem like something to subdue.
But thoughts are energy. Every thought process consumes inner resources. Use up the energy reserves too quickly without replacing it, and it’s like a car running out of gas.
There are many ways to keep the energy floating, even ways to feed the energy back into itself so that it is self-sustaining. However, simply getting lost in a daydream bouncing from one thought to the next, is not one of those ways.
So here’s what I did. I simply stopped. I was on my way back into the house, and I just stopped walking. I felt the sun on my face. I noticed my breath. I smiled. I asked myself: “Where is my next thought coming from?” and then I waited. Sat down on the steps for a few moments. Stillness. Rejuvenation.
Hit the spot.
This is what my recovery looks like. This is my life. Thank you for being a part of it.
By the way. Astute readers may be wondering how I am publishing this post if I shut down the computer for the day.
About a half hour ago, I was realized I had a time-sensitive message to send to someone, and email was the most efficient way. So, I booted up the computer. Wrote and sent the email. Figured it would be time-efficient to publish this post as well. I am going to click the “share on Facebook” button, but am not going to log on to social media today. Instead, I’ll shut the computer down, hit up a counseling session, and go to yoga with my buddy.
Am I over-explaining? Who cares? I’m having fun with life today, and I wish the same for everyone reading this (and everyone not).
Also published on Medium.