The Concept of Denial

One time several years ago, at a more memorable Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, the chair decided to read one of the patient-penned stories towards the end of the Big Book (an alcoholic’s de facto Bible essentially).  It was actually quite bracing for me as I’ve yet to come across an AA group or person from the program that places a considerable emphasis on “those stories at the end.”  Since they are just personal accounts (just), I think many folks view them as “not important.”  However, when the main speaker of our group had been absent a few weeks prior to this meeting due to illness, the fill-in facilitator went ahead with a round-table style reading of the short story, Crossing the River of Denial.  I have to honestly admit, I’d never looked at this story in-depth until then.  I’m actually really glad we did!

It is a story of two alcoholic people married to each other.  They are in denial of being alcoholics, but they do accuse the other person of “having a problem.”  Sounds trite to us at this point, doesn’t it?  What’s so great and unique about this little story is it is basically told from both of their perspectives, back-and-forth, quickly, with no notice.  This rather inadvertent literary effect complements the dysfunctional, hectic nature of the man and woman’s relationship.  I loved everything about this one really because as you read along through it, you discover that they each realize they’re alcoholic themselves.  That’s always compelling for another addict of any kind to hear about.

However, the most crucial, pertinent aspect of this story has to be the text written underneath the title (which I’ll share), since I strongly feel that this is how we all end up telling ourselves officially that we have dealt with this sickness.

“She finally realized that when she enjoyed her drinking, she couldn’t control it, and when she controlled it, she couldn’t enjoy it.”
– pg. 328, the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. Original copyright 1939.

What an amazing quote.  I think this says it all, precisely in fact.  The last part of it there, it truly is kind of a different way to regard our situations.  We seldom mix the thoughts of control and alcohol & drug use together since we know it almost never happens…or happened.  Why? Because we always wanted to enjoy ourselves. We always wanted to be happy.  We always wanted to numb that pain. Conversely, the reason I share this on a spiritually-themed blog is that I have found, from this moment and others, that the more honest we become with ourselves (about ourselves), is truly the way to existing as a more spiritual person. Of course, there is no official criteria for spiritual consciousness, but that’s because the path to existing as a “spiritual” person is a real journey, filled with unique experiences, struggles, traumas, and blessings. I believe that when we acknowledge every single thing to which we’ve been exposed in our lives, with respect to our own thoughts, emotions, and intuition, it is then that we attain spirituality. If it can be attained. But it is a journey.

There’s no denying that.

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