Guest Blogger and long-time Council friend, Bob W. presents Part 54 of a series dealing with Alcoholism and Addiction from a Mystical, Mythological Perspective, reflecting Bob’s scholarly work as a Ph.D. in mythological studies.
Jane Austen is recognized as the premier author of the Regency Period in England, the historical period that preceded the Victorian Era. Her various works adroitly characterize the highly structured yet anxiety riddled social structure of the upper classes of British society. Perhaps her best such rendition is the story Emma, about a privileged, headstrong society girl in a small fictitious town in England. Early in adulthood, Emma begins to manipulate her peers in her social structure to pursue the lives she believes they should, according to their standing, whether or not they agree with her or whether it is the right thing for them to do.
Her penchant for such machinations develops to such increasing levels of bad maneuvers that she is ruining various lives irreparably. Emma remains unconscionable is her efforts until George Knightly, a friend who is her one constant critic, finally convinces her of the extent of the damage she is doing and provokes a change in her behavior.
Emma’s descent into the behavior that so ruins other lives is similar to that of many of us as we descended into the final throes of our disease. We heaped abuse on others as if it was our right to destroy lives; we believed that relationships meant we could treat others as prisoners. For many of us, it was only in the shock and final realization of such destruction that we could begin to pursue relief and reconstruction.
Think about how we behaved with loved ones at the height of our disease, the abuse and bad behavior that was so destructive and cruel without our even being aware of what we were doing. And think how we pushed those same loved ones into behavior patterns to protect themselves, even though such patterns set them up for Al-Anon like pathologies. The repair of both sets of behaviors required almost lifelong efforts of recovery for both.
In a late scene in Austen’s book, there is an exchange between Emma and Knightly in which Knightly castigates her for a particularly mean and outrageous series of comments towards a garrulous societal friend. He says: “How could you be so unfeeling? […] How could you be so insolent in your wit to a woman of her character, age, and situation?”
Emma tries to explain away her affront by diminishing the target, but Knightly will have none of it. He adroitly points out that, despite Emma’s innermost self being of much higher quality, her penchant to put down and abuse others is destroying who she really is. This exchange causes a dramatic change in Emma’s consciousness and the beginning of an ultimate resolution of the story…one that is highly enjoyable and uplifting.
For all of us in Recovery, how much like this has it been that a friend, or group thereof, has finally gotten through to our innermost selves, occasions that finally triggered the Journey that ultimately saved our lives and the lives of those around us.