It occurred to me today that I have been applying for jobs recently, and in the header of my CV is the URL to this website. I decided a long time ago that, if I was going to have this site, that I would not hide it. That defeats the purpose. One of my co-workers yesterday told me that I was “prolific”…he was just referring to the articles that I re-post on Facebook. A good deal of what I think about recovery is out in the public sphere. I am old enough (ugh) to remember a time when publishing one’s thoughts took longer, and the finished product took more work to find. It was not so easy to be so prolific.
I also remember a time when I spoke in front of an AA meeting, with 70 days or so without substances and still living in a long-term treatment facility. My sponsor at the time had decided to empower me by putting me up in front of his AA home group. While speaking, I unwittingly used the phrase “I think”. After I finished, one of the resident grumpy old-timers smacked me around a bit with his “share” and essentially corrected all of the things that he did not agree with. I will never forget that he took particular issue with me having the nerve to say what “I think”. He apparently thought that was inappropriate.
Another AA meeting I attended had the “Think Think Think” slogan framed, in the front of the room along with three or four others. The “Think” one was upside down; so while setting up the chairs, I righted it. Another member turned it back, and explained to me that this represented our alcoholic thinking. I could definitely relate to that. I cannot count the number of times when someone said to me, “You’re a smart guy…what the hell were you thinking?”
In some ways, recovery is the ultimate head trip. There is so much second-guessing and re-evaluation of thoughts, emotions, and attitudes. A good deal of addiction treatment focuses on correcting our thinking errors and distortions. To complicate matters, relying on others for support also requires some thinking, in order to identify good influences. Addiction creates an untenable state in which we cannot trust ourselves. If we are not careful, it can get very confusing. It takes a little while to be able to trust ourselves again and to rely on our thinking, as we were intended to do.
Critical thinking is an important part of recovery because it has always been part of who I am. Recovery for me is essential to, i.e. the essence of, my life. I have so much riding on this; I took the attitude early on that recovery for me would be my life’s work; the penultimate thesis, to be defended and revised daily. I have never understood disdain for intellect, and it is just as dangerous in recovery as it is in the realms of global politics or public health.
“To find yourself, think for yourself” -Socrates