It has a lot of names, such as, "turd-stacking," "projecting the wreckage of the future," "horriblizing" one's life, "fly-speck magnification," "asshole gazing," and many other ways to describe the disease of addiction's practice of adjusting an addict's focus until all he or she can see is what's wrong: in the universe, in the world, in the nation, in the job, in the home, and in his or her life.
As an old sponsor of mine pointed out to me, "If you stare into an asshole long enough, sooner or later you are going to get an eyeful of something that won't make you very happy."
Addiction's main tool to get us back into the nightmare is this: If I can make myself miserable enough, I'll use. Pain, troubles, unhappiness at work, at school, at home, it all comes down to "If you had my troubles, you'd use, too."
"What do you mean 'Make myself miserable,'" I asked in rehab after being told the above dynamic.
Then I learned one of the most important facts of addiction and my experience with it: I didn't use because I had troubles; I had troubles in order to give myself excuses to use."
My original reaction was, "Bullshit. It can't be that simple. Why would I make myself miserable?"
The more I studied upon it, the answer to why I would make myself miserable was to give myself excuses to self-medicate. I could look at a pristine wall of white alabaster, find one tiny flyspeck on that wall, and focus on this filthy, gross, immoral imperfection until the entire wall became that flyspeck, and then I, in cooperation with my disease, would inflate that flyspeck until it covered everything I cared about. The result? Life sucks, and if so many horrible things like this are going on, I mean, why stay clean?
The grateful addict never uses. When you are feeling less than grateful, check your focus. What are you focusing on? Are you saving and stacking turds until your recovery gets caught in an avalanche? How important is your recovery? Just how big and how important is that flyspeck?
Back when I was in college, I took a few months off to help my younger brother ween himself of a drugs and alcohol. Needless to say, it was pretty rough and those few months, while they definitely helped, didn't fix his problem completely. It took a few years. But he points to those months as the most crucial part of his recovery process.
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