Denial as Isolation of the Connected

(Blog #3) Denial as “Isolation-of-the-Connected”
“Alcoholism,” any addiction, can be known by the addict and anyone else only as a pattern. To not see the disease is to not see the forest for the trees. Alcoholism is a forest that emerges out of a number of discreet events, all tied together by one common denominator … every tree gives off the odor of alcohol, whether from roots or branches. Likewise, for drug addiction.
“Isolation” is that perverse and subtle response that blocks my mind from forming the pattern. I see the trees, each one. I even smell the alcohol, though I may place blame elsewhere. But I don’t connect the trees into a pattern that outlines my problem: alcoholism. My problem/life is like a dot-to-dot drawing and I seem unable to connect the dots The “aha!” won’t come. How do I stop it? I don’t know. I don’t even know I am doing it, though I get pretty huffy if someone tries to close the Gestalt for me.
It is painfully clear that “One won’t hurt” isolates that particular drink, the one I am about to take. By so doing, it disconnects the fatal decision from all the hurtful drinks that will follow. The wishful relapse also isolates this moment from a pattern of having done this before. One of the DSM [3 ] diagnostic criteria for the disease of “substance dependence” reads “…the substance is often taken in larger amounts or over a longer period than was intended.” “One won’t hurt” is the voice of that futile “intention.” Another DSM criterion includes “…unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control substance use.” “One won’t hurt” is the voice of those “unsuccessful efforts.”
How does “F— it” isolate the numerous interconnected experiences of addiction and relapse. White-knuckle sobriety begins with the separation of drinking/drugging from the issue of coping.
It starts by denying that the problem lies with my sober self, the inability to cope without a chemical crutch. I just “set my mind” to stay clean and sober. When something bothers me, I “stuff” the feelings. Each upset becomes another “rock” in my proverbial “gunnysack.” By the time “I’ve had it,” the accumulated “dots” I did not resolve or connect are what I let fly. If I can allow these dots to connect, they all add up to one thing — my pattern of addiction.
“Hitting bottom” or “surrender” seems to involve seeing the forest created by so many painful trees. The author is encouraged when an alcoholic/addict in early recovery reports spontaneous memories. These are revealing and painful drinking episodes that were dismissed at the time they occurred. Every drinker in denial has a collection of such memories, like an unopened photo record of the disease as it unfolded. The day that album falls open is the day the person gives up isolation-of-the-connected — the “Gestalt” of the addiction can now close. Aha!

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