Sunday, December 15, 2013

Sober Day #47- Bare Knuckle Tactics

One of the most educational (addiction-wise) books I've read recently is Gabor Mate's 'In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts:  Close Encounters with Addiction".  He is a Canadian addiction physician who is Buddhist-influenced. explains the Buddhist concept of hungry ghost this way:  ""Hungry ghost" is one of the six modes of existence (see Six Realms). Hungry ghosts are pitiable creatures with huge, empty stomachs. They have pinhole mouths, and their necks are so thin they cannot swallow, so they remain hungry. Beings are reborn as hungry ghosts because of their greed, envy and jealousy. Hungry ghosts are also associated with addiction, obsession and compulsion."

One needn't have a Buddhist outlook to see how this description of Always Hungry but Never Satisfied fits most of us who are struggling with alcohol.  (Hungry for alcohol, that is, not for food). 

Mate discusses the difference between a passion and an addiction:  "The difference between passion and addiction is that between a divine spark and a flame that incinerates."  Which makes it very clear-  for me, wine has been a flame that incinerates and destroys the richness that could be my life.  Even though at times I tried to convince myself that is benefited me, added enjoyment, made my life better.  

He says:  "When we flee our vulnerability, we lose our full capacity for feeling emotion."  And that is certainly what I have done with alcohol:  used its anesthetic effect to avoid feeling stressed, vulnerable, not-enough.    The challenge with this is that one can't blunt just the negative emotions-  any action that blunts them, also blunts the positive emotions-  and, as he says, we end up diminishing our capacity for feeling all emotions.  

Where do the Bare Knuckles come in?  In hand-to-hand combat with Wolfie.  If I am losing the battle, my last resort is to re-read a quote from his book (at least 10 times in a row, preferably out loud) and go to bed as soon as possible.  I have the quote written down on a card that I carry in my purse at all times.  Here it is:

"I don't NEED a drink now.  I'm only having an obsessive thought that I have such a need.  It's not a real objective need but a false belief.  I may have a feeling of urgency, but there is actually nothing urgent going on."

That kinda says it all, doesn't it?


  1. The bare knuckle option is the way I approach it, Carrie. I honestly visualize the Wolf as a real life bad guy, a proper adversary, & having seen him for what he is I steadfastly refuse to let him back into my life. I would fight that fucker all day and all night to achieve this. That, and the lovely comments posted by people such as yourself compel me to adopt a "never let the team down" mentality. If I started back on the drink I would be so ashamed that I fell short of all the encouragement offered by you & others, I couldn't look at myself in the mirror (Are you getting all this? There's a written test at the end ;-)
    However you choose to do it, it's nice to know you've got people on the sidelines with their fingers & toes crossed for you, and THAT for me, is where the sober blogosphere works beautifully. 3 days to go to the big 50!! Best wishes from me

    1. Yeah, that semi-public commitment (no billboard on High Street, but there on the Web for anyone to see) and the sense of being part of a community that cares- that, as you say, is rooting for me- What great gifts these are!
      PS: I couldn't find the written quiz, lol!!

  2. Norman I am with you. well said. And Carrie thanks for reminding me of Gabor. I must order that book, for as well as my son.

    1. Reading Mate completely 180'd my opinion about how drug and alcohol treatment and rehab should be provided. And probably began opening my personal door to considering stopping drinking- by removing a lot of my sense of guilt and of being a flawed person for turning to alcohol as a coping mechanism in the first place.

      How old is your son?


I'd love to hear about your journey, and hear your take on my journey. Comments are very welcome!!