It is often said that the disease of alcoholism/addiction is a disease of perception. There is a lot to this, so I will do my best to explain. While I am preparing a family for an intervention one of the things I repeatedly say is, “Your son (or whomever we are intervening on) is not seeing things clearly. For example, tomorrow at the intervention he may indicate to us that he does not have a drug problem. We know that is not the case because that is why all of us are here to begin with. We are taking action by intervening on your loved one because all of you see that there is a huge problem and it’s our job to point that out at the intervention tomorrow.”
I cannot count how many times the subject we are intervening says, “I am fine, I don’t have any problems, why are you all here?”
In my mind some of the things I witness are almost comical because it is so insane. You want to say, “Dude, you haven’t worked in three years, you are living in your mom’s garage, you have warrants out for your arrest, and you haven’t paid child support…ever.” Clearly this is not funny but coming back to the addict’s perception it’s completely insane. So, I gently and calmly will say, “Jimmy, I can appreciate where you are coming from because that is how you see it, but all seven people here who love you to pieces are seeing things much differently. That is why we are all here, to help you.” I have way more extreme examples and others that are not this extreme, the bottom line is that everyone who participates in an intervention is hell bent in getting the person who is suffering some help.
Now, as a person in recovery I still suffer from many moments of perception that is off, and I need to often laugh at myself for even thinking the way I do at times. How I am feeling versus how I am doing are two completely different things. I recently engaged in a business situation where a great deal of money was lost, so I felt angry at myself, amongst many other emotions involving rage and disappointment. However, all of this has passed, and the “feeling” I get from time to time is that I am “less than” or I am a “failure” or “what a loser” I have turned out to be! Total nonsense! Recovering people are the only ones who experience failed business ventures!
The point I want to make is, the “feeling” passed and I am doing very, very well. For God’s sake, I am alive, I am clean and sober coming on 17 years and have had the opportunity and experience of countless others recover. And how I am doing has absolutely nothing to do with finances, money in the wallet and the bank account. My “feelings” will often be misconstrued to how I am doing in life. I must always remember that I am doing well overall, I have a lot of people who care about me and love me, and I have a ton of love for others in return.
This is where a good sponsor in the program of recovery plays a huge role. When I share how I am “feeling” he will just nod his head and say, “Okay, now get your ass to a meeting and help a newcomer.” It is all about getting out of self as much as possible, some days I do a decent job of it, and I fall short plenty of days as well. I am just practicing and learning daily, things I never knew before I got sober. Which is just one of the many reasons being in recovery is so much more than just not drinking or using anymore.
As I write this, I am preparing to do an intervention in Northern California in a couple of days. Word has it that the person has had five DUI’s and lost their job, but the individual is chalking it up to a few bad days and some bad luck. There may or not be a perception issue at this intervention, but with the loving group of people we have on board we should be able to get the person the help they need.