Identity Quest

A few days ago, a visitor to RealtimeRecovery (yiothesia8) posted the following comment:

Greg, I have a request of you. A friend of mine recommended your blog to me. Maybe you’ve done this and I haven’t seen it, but how have your views of yourself changed through getting sober and having a marriage end? What’s your identity? Who are you really?

I believe that addiction is the secular word for what the Bible calls slavery. While we’re born free to some degree, we’re really just free to choose our master. What master we choose is based in our identity. If you have interest in exploring that in this blog, I’d love to read it.

This is precisely the type of discussion I’d hoped the blog would prompt. I’ve committed to trying (emphasis on “trying”) to address the first question in a later post. The set of questions, however, and yiothesia8’s commentary, invite a much broader and more provocative discussion than I’m capable of handling alone. If you’re intrigued, visit the comments section of my post, There Is a Solution, and join the discussion thread.

3 responses to “Identity Quest

  1. Great discussion. I’ve never been divorced in sobriety (’cause I never got married) but I did “fall out of love” with someone. It’s a difficult thing for both sides to go through. I wish you posted more often…you have a compelling voice.


  2. Friend came to me for prayer and advice about a 27 year old, chemically dependent sibling. Their dad is an alcoholic; mom is absurdly critical. Both parents enable and even stimulate conflict between the siblings. 27 y/o tried suicide earlier in year, nearly got it done and has extensive physical scarring to show for it. Has no interest in treatment or counseling.

    While I’ve had to deal with depression and an addiction to deceitfulness, I’ve never been chemically addicted or addicted to any kind of numbing behavior. How do you show love to an individual? My advice was to pray for them. A lot. In addition to that, try be a consistent, unwavering presence, ask honest questions to try to get the individual to reveal something that exposes the lie they’re believing. I’m a firm believer that what makes sense in an internal monologue often gets revealed for the lie it is through external dialogue. I told my friend to create and disclose boundaries (i.e., let’s meet every Tuesday night at 8 for an hour and talk. Come sober or I’m going home. If you don’t show up, I’ll be there the next week. Make consequences known, enforce the boundaries, but make sure the individual knows that you want to be a part of their life and you’re willing to make a commitment to be there every week). Is this right/wrong? Incomplete?

    Any insight as to the psychology of the addict this case?


    • I’m no psychologist, but I agree wholeheartedly with your advice that the friend pray for the sibling, a lot. Especially if he’s not interested in treatment or counseling. When we’re not interested in getting help or finding a solution, we (and I can only speak for alcoholics of my type) are usually smack in the middle of our most common character defects: selfishness, self-pity, dishonesty, all of the real pretty traits that go along with preying on friends and family who want to repair us or save us. The addicts and alcoholics I know will get you for all your worth as long as your offering up some love, sympathy, affection … anything but a solution that might mean parting with that over which neither you or the addict has any power–their drug of choice. Hate to be heartless, but the only love I know of for self-serving alcoholics and addicts is tough love … coupled with empathy once they agree to take action. If you’re not going to a meeting with me, if you’re not interested in treatment or counseling, if you don’t want the type of solution I have to offer, I’m not wasting my time on you because I know all to well from experience I’m wasting my time. You’re powerless and I’m powerless over alcohol or whatever the drug of choice may be. At the same time, the world is full of far too many still suffering alcoholics and addicts who do want and seek help. I can only pray for the still suffering who don’t seek or want help.

      I also understand and don’t want to sound unsympathetic to the suicide factor. I lost two very close friends to alcoholic suicides within weeks of each other in ’99—one shot himself in the chest, the other drank a bottle of windshield wiper fluid. They were both fighting to stay sober and actually seeking a solution in meetings, but finally lost all hope. It’s my experience (only my experience) that most alcoholics and addicts who’ve lost hope and want to take their own lives don’t often miss. There are those attention-getting and dramatic suicide attempts that are frightening as hell, too, because sometimes, intentionally or accidentally, they work. Hard pill to swallow, losing a friend or loved one after drawing a line in the sand and telling them you can’t play their game unless they actively seek help. Tough love doesn’t always pay off. But what’s the option? Spend a lot of time prolonging their self-pity? Feather a nest that allows them to prolong their unwillingness to take action and seek a solution? I definitely agree with being a consistent, unwavering presence, asking honest questions … as long as the addict or alcoholic is willing to meet you half way and seek a solution of some sort. As so many old-timers told me in the beginning, some of us have to die so the rest of us can stay.