Monday, January 28, 2019

Step One of Baby Steps? by Rory Andes

I recently started a 12 Step based cognitive behavioral change program. I got on this train after a recent breakup last year showed me that I don't deal the best with devastating changes. Mostly, I suck at hurting and I develop some stupid compulsory behaviors to slow the burn (as though I could control what awful things people I love are willing to do to me). During the breakup, I would obsess over any communication at all with my former fiance. Like obsess... "Hopefully today is the day she changes her mind and believes I'm worth something" kind of obsessing. And I would shut out other, wonderful people while I waited for the message that would never come.

It was explained to me that anxiety leads to compulsion and that, in turn, leads back to further anxiety. All the while some of us try to control some part of that dynamic. For some, its drugs. For others, anger. For me, prior to prison, I drank because my life was a sea of hurt. I used alcohol to mask, suppress, and quiet my negative thoughts of myself and my pain. Top that mess off with the PTSD from two trips to Iraq and the destruction of a bipolar ex wife and the anxiety really was something I couldn't control. So I drank the hurt away (not really, I know better). But that's not my deal. Alcohol isn't the "problem". How I process pain is. I learned a lot about restructuring my life in prison to not drink again, but I can't fix how I hurt. At least not completely. And in comes the program...

For the last two weeks we've been focused on the first step, admitting we are powerless to an addiction. Sadly, its all about substance abuse. Many people are in prison because of addiction. Not because dad was an abusive monster and mom was never nurturing. They get high because its what the fellas do. Please tell me you heard the sarcasm in these last three lines. I've lived with a murderer who killed his aunt because she tried to stop him from getting the next fix. He'd say stupid shit like, "They know I'm a drug addict. That's my problem." No, shithead, not being able to live with yourself and not holding yourself accountable is the problem. Effing discipline is your problem, not the drugs. Handguns don't kill people, thoughtless assholes do. He's also an avid 12 stepper... I'm in an effing prison. If substance abuse is still mine or anybody's problem here, we have bigger fish to fry than admitting "powerlessness". We need to fix the contraband holes in a secured facility and start living up to the taxpayers' expectations. We need to be held to a community standard here without the influence of dumb shit like drugs and booze. Want a healthier person post prison? Get him out of a jumpsuit and out of his bunk and put him in a 3 piece suit and force him to reshape long forgotten values like work and humility. The days of bullshitting yourselves and your loved ones are over, boys!

Don't get me wrong, all the sponsors and facilitators mean well and have giant hearts for helping. But for the guy who hasn't had any foreign substances since my incarceration over six years ago, I struggle watching a room full of men simply make excuses, especially the ones who have done decades of this shit. One of our sponsors, a wonderful guy, said his last drink was in 1983. That's good! Perfect! That's progress! But don't follow up that admission with, "and there's not a day that goes by that I don't think about a drink..." 1983!!! What the hell else do you think about?! I'm here to reshape anxiety and I know my errors. I'm aware of compulsions and will fix that at all costs, but God help me if I'm powerless to the fuel of failures! I'm better than that and I have the right people reminding me of it. Let's get to Step Two because I can definitely get behind my higher power...

Rory Andes
for www.lgbtqprisonsupport.com

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