Friday, January 13, 2017

Your sponsor is not a trained professional

I dislike the self-help phrase "Feelings are not facts." The people who say have smiles that are so tight that it makes you think those rigid smirks are the result of a string of psychotic breakdowns;no one who utters the convenient adage truly seems convinced that it’s of any real use to someone who’s losing their emotional equilibrium. One has to do a bit of interpretation to get a sense of what the author was trying to say. I refute this cliché thusly: if I am sad, elated, angry, in love or grieving, it is a FACT that I'm feeling that way. The knee jerk bootstrappism of the cliché, on the face of it, discounts feelings and implies you ought to ignore them. Bad advice, dangerous advice. If you're feelings are out of hand and seeming too much to handle, one is advised STRONGLY to get help to understand the feelings and what one can do to recover. Feelings are not facts" is intended to tell sufferers that one should not let their feelings overwhelm them and prevent them from being proactive in their life. That I am feeling depressed, bereaved, elated, et al, however, are, in themselves, facts, and excessive states of each or in combination thereof that prevents the sufferer from engaging their daily life fully cannot be dismissed with this smug phrase. There are reasons one continues to be overwhelmed by fear, grief, anxiety, angst, a feeling of impending doom; if ignored, these feelings can become truly immobilizing. The danger in this is that the phrase seems to have morphed from being a part of a psychiatric / therapeutic treatment modality where distinctions are explicit and the aim, guided with professional aid, is to repair and reinforce a patient's coping skills, to make them increasingly resilient in spite of their feelings. The phrase implies a short cut and, sadly, I see many who would otherwise benefit from a more therapeutic situation vying for a faster fix. Generally speaking, they don't appear to be making progress. I see a lot of this and, in fact, have my own issues to wrestle with as a sober alcoholic. There is an AA phrase, an unfortunate one I think, that states that alcohol is merely a symptom of an underlying disorder. I know precisely what the author of that phrase meant, that there are reasons why we drank, emotional distresses and such that are now triggers toward the temporary and potentially terminal relief booze supplies, but it is said so often by members without thought that it implies strongly that if one attends and corrects the causes of the symptoms, one may return to normal drinking. It undercuts the importance of remaining abstinent. Alcohol, in my experience, was not a symptom, it was (capital was) and remains (capital remains) the problem itself. Generally speaking, all the other things that AA offers effective help in--making amends, righting wrongs, developing a workable spirituality that allows one become a better person, a sober person--are impossible to achieve unless one adheres to permanent physical sobriety. I just don't appreciate complicated problems being trivialized by way of bumper sticker slogans.

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