I had a couple of comments on my May Day Blog that I'd like to try and address. One was from Signe who basically asked which came first, finding something that I could fall in love with or giving up drinking. The other was from a member of the MM Mainlist who said I made such a complicated issue sound simple. There are no easy answers, we all know this, I told my MM friend, once we get some distance from alcohol everything becomes less complicated, and to do that, Signe, I had to push myself to find something, or many things, that I thought could become more important in my life than alcohol. Then I had to quit drinking to make them worth it.
But there are devious forces at work that keep us from doing either one of these,
Let me introduce you to Princess Euphoria and Princess Anhedonia, they're sisters and they go hand-in-hand and they live in the land of Alcoholism. Where one goes, the other goes.
First let's talk about Princess Euphoria, we'll call her Phoria for short. Phoria is the one we met that night we took that first drink. We felt like we had just met our long lost best friend. She was always there for us, anytime we needed her. Phoria was one great gal, even if she was a little flighty, and insincere, even if she was a little dangerous and convinced us to go places where we wouldn't normally go. "Feel like jumping naked off the back of a boat while the crowds watch?" Sure, why not? "Wanna go home with that cute stranger at the end of the bar?" Hell, yeah! She made us feel more alive than we ever had. She was like the Pamela Anderson of friends, she was fake as hell, from her false eyelashes to her triple D's, but she was fun and she made us feel so good about ourselves. Hot damn, we loved that gal! She had lots of friends that she wanted us to meet and they all worshiped her.
The only problem was she had this ugly sister name Princess Anhedonia, we'll call her Annie. Annie was a loutish, brutish, clod of a gal, she followed Phoria everywhere she went because, hell, she couldn't get any friends on her own. She was a real sour bitch and she got great pleasure from making us feel bad. She'd make fun of us, and tell us that we were worthless pieces of shit, and then she'd cover her bristly mouth and giggle, "Just kidding. he-he You know I love you." She made our skin crawl and our stomachs turn. She scared the shit out of us, but we tolerated her. For Phoria.
Some people wised up fast to Annie, and as much as they liked Phoria, they couldn't put up with her malevolent side-kick, so they regretfully bade their farewells to Phoria, or else they arranged to meet her on the sly for short little get togethers, and as soon as they sensed that Annie was going to show up, they got the hell out of there. These were some smart cookies. Others, like me, lingered longer, we loved Phoria so much that we continued to withstand Annie's abuse, just so we could spend as much time as possible with our best friend. She was worth it. She'd been so good to us.
Now unbeknownst to us, Annie hated Phoria, she wanted all of Phoria's friends for herself. She was secretly plotting to kill her, but first she kidnapped her and put her in a dungeon. She would let her out every once in awhile just so she could lure us closer, but then she'd quickly throw Phoria back in the dungeon, and we would be forced to tolerate Annie's increasingly sadistic behaviour. We couldn't get rid of her, she started hanging around longer and longer. Again, some of the friends wised up, and as much as they loved Phoria, they decided they couldn't tolerate anymore of Annie and they escaped. But others, like me, kept coming back, we'd tolerate anything just for those few moments spent with Phory. Those few moments of light with her were all we had left in our darkening world.
Annie began letting Phory out for shorter and shorter periods until she had lured all of Phoria's most steadfast friends and trapped us in the dungeon, it was then that she finally killed Phory. Phoria's friends wouldn't believe it, we kept looking for Phoria, through all the dark hallways and vomit tainted cellars and into the bottom of every dusty bottle we found, we kept calling out her name. Some got lost down in the catacombs beneath the dungeon and wandered about aimlessly, looking for Phoria, until they perished.
But some of Annie's prisoners, and this time I was one of them, decided they had to escape, they couldn't live with Annie, and Phoria wasn't coming back. But Annie was a vigilant and punishing warden and time after time she caught us and pulled us back into her chamber of terrors. Every attempted escape resulted in a harsher punishment which broke our spirits and made mush of our wills. Annie was a master at brainwashing and she was especially adept at making us believe that there was nothing waiting for us outside the dungeon walls, we were reviled and worthless beings, blights on the face of the earth. We were better off where we were. That's what she would have us believe, and she was very convincing. We shook our head in resignation, we were doomed.
But wait! There was another sister that we'd forgotten about. Princess Joy! We'd actually met her first, before we'd met either Phoria or Annie, she may not have been as crazy fun as Phoria, but she was beautiful, in her shimmering clothes, and most of all kind. She also made us feel good, but she made us work for it and her rewards were enduring. Joy was no pushover, but she was real and she was loyal and we knew she would rescue us, if we but asked. She was our only hope. We went in search of her, struggling past Annie, we broke free from our cell and ran through the endless dark halls calling a new name. Finally we rounded a corner, and a dim glow lit the the walls, it was her, Joy. She'd been waiting for us, waiting all along, to lead us out of the dungeon that surrounded us, all we had to do was follow her and keep her in our sight.
Annie didn't give up that easy though, she gave chase. She was big and lumbersome, but she was persistent. Some of us got outside the dungeon walls and saw all of the obstacles looming in front of us and ran back in. Some of us looked back long enough to let Annie catch us and throw us back in the dungeon. She managed to wrap her hands around the ankles of some of us and we had to pull her along until we could break free. That horrid bitch dogged all of us for a measure but the further we got from her lair, the weaker she got and the closer we got to Joy.
So Signe, your daughter may never find her "passion" or joy until she escapes the clutches of the anhedonia that alcoholism cultivates, she needs to find something that she once cherished, or something she could cherish as a means of escape, and then she needs to keep her eye on that object and quit drinking until that object starts to shine. Here is a link to a discussion about alcohol induced anhedonia that might convince her.
And my MM friend, it sounds as if you're gaining distance, don't look back and keep going.
P.S. I know that some of us embrace the anhedonia that alcohol wraps around us, it insulates us from the pain of life but it also keeps us from the antidote to pain which is joy.