The Lifelong Quest For Sobriety…The Ultimate Hero’s Journey – Part 9

 

Guest Blogger and long-time Council friend, Bob W. presents Part 9 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.

The incidence of war in the human experience is enormous; it has been estimated that, in the 5,600 years of recorded human history, there have been 14,300 definable wars.  In our modern times, the wars of WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, the Balkans, Iraq and Afghanistan and their aftermaths occupy much of the period of the last 100 years. Wars affect everyone, not just the participants, but their families and larger communities as well, in many subtle and powerful ways. Continue reading “The Lifelong Quest For Sobriety…The Ultimate Hero’s Journey – Part 9”

The Lifelong Quest for Sobriety…The Ultimate Hero’s Journey—Part 8

Guest Blogger and long-time Council friend, Bob W. presents Part 8 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.

In the ancient mythopoetic story of the Odyssey, Odysseus is desperately trying to find his way home after a 10-year war, to the Island of Ithaca where he is King. The armies of the great city states of Greece had been locked in a struggle to conquer the impregnable City of Troy on the extreme west coast of modern day Turkey. Odysseus was one of the leaders of the Greeks, the one who devised the plan to penetrate Troy through the gift of a giant horse secretly filled with soldiers, the Trojan Horse.  The behavior of the Greeks once inside the City and the slaughter of the Trojan population angered the gods.  The Journey home of all the Greek leaders was fraught with calamity, but none so severe as Odysseus.’

Odysseus encounters all sorts of disasters on his tortuous Journey home, much of it accompanied by the bad behavior of his men and him.  After nine years on the Journey, having lost everything, all his ships, all his men, all his possessions, he is washed up on the island of Scheria, naked, exhausted and broken.  He is taken in by the people of this land, and in a fit of surrender, he tells his whole long story.  It is in this telling that he finally gains the support and insight to complete his Journey home and, once back in Ithaca, to ultimately regain his rightful place as King.

The story is another classic hero’s journey, filled with all the elements of similar epics. Odysseus’ arrival home results in some additional conflicts with others on Ithaca seeking to rule.  With the help of the goddess Athena, a peace is declared by all the conflict parties accepting a sacred oath to restrain from any further violence forever.  This ending is dealt with rather briefly in the actual story, but the journey of Odysseus, in the torments and trials he must overcome, very much parallel our own Journeys to Sobriety.

He can only finally find forbearance and release from his tragic journey after he loses everything, surrenders and tells his story.  Having done so, and following the dictums of his hosts on Scheria, he can find his way home and achieve a sense of peace for himself and his people. For all of us, it is in telling our story, truthfully and with energetic rigor, that we can finally make progress on the elusive quest of Sobriety…and, in having done so, we can finally find peace and a rightful place for ourselves in the world.

The Lifelong Quest for Sobriety…The Ultimate Hero’s Journey—Part 7

Guest Blogger and long-time Council friend, Bob W. presents Part 7 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.

So…having taken the steps to engage the process of Recovery in earnest, we have seen that the initial requirement is a rigorous exploration of the events of our past lives in the addictions. This “fearless inventory of ourselves” is meant to bring into consciousness the full extent of our disease, in all of its aspects.  We take inventory, try to understand the full extent of our disease and who we hurt in the travesties of our “acting out,” and then work to repair such travesties where we can.  The final steps, outlining the requirements of a continuing life in sobriety, provide a road map for daily living.

Continue reading “The Lifelong Quest for Sobriety…The Ultimate Hero’s Journey—Part 7”

Alcoholism…Are Genes to Blame?

Are issues with alcohol a future risk for you? Have you ever questioned yourself and thought, “Am I an alcoholic?”

Many Americans drink alcohol, but can have one drink and put it down for the rest of the evening. Not everyone who drinks develops a dependence on alcohol. However, many individuals are concerned about their chances of struggling with alcohol dependence due to their genetic predisposition. The question is, “How much do genes truly affect the likelihood of becoming an alcoholic?”

Continue reading “Alcoholism…Are Genes to Blame?”

The Lifelong Quest for Sobriety…The Ultimate Hero’s Journey – Part 6

Guest Blogger and long-time Council friend, Bob W. presents Part 6 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.

Joseph Campbell was a preeminent mythologist whose lifelong scholarship focused on the powerful messages inherent in stories from various societies, stories both fiction and true, from all the areas of the globe and all the ages of time. The representative power of “story” to convey belief systems and psychical messages can be found in many places, even in some far removed from the scholarship of the work of Campbell and others

In The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy has been tossed by a tornado into a strange, fantastical land from which she only wants to find her way back home. She is told that to do so, she must “follow the yellow brick road,” capture the Broomstick of the Wicked Witch of the West, and take it to the Great Wizard of Oz who will provide the answer she seeks. She enlists the help of others, those similarly seeking something to which they aspire, and pursues this Journey. While it is beset with all kinds of terrors, she is successful in capturing the Broomstick, only to find that the Wizard is but a sham. In the aftermath of missteps with the Wizard, however, Glinda, the Good Witch, who originally told Dorothy to “follow the yellow brick road,” now tells her that getting home can be as easy as closing her eyes, clicking her ruby red heels, and imagining the journey home. But it was the Journey of the movie that Dorothy had to pursue first, with all its horrors, in order to develop the strength and the consciousness that ultimately allowed her to imagine her way home.

What another wonderful analogy for our own perilous journeys. While this story might seem a bit superficial to those of us suffering from the horrors of the diseases of addiction, it is embedded in our minds and hearts from its constant re-screenings since first produced in 1939. Dorothy trying to get home is a good analogy for all of us looking for and finding a life of sobriety and serenity, a place of peace just in our own hearts. The process to follow the yellow brick road, to face and conquer the demons however horrific, to be careful of the false shamans, and to realize in the end that, as a result of the journey and the conquests, home is just a place of serenity in our own hearts, is a spectacular revelation. For some, like me, the Broomstick of the Wicked Witch can be a symbol of our own Souls, a core element of ourselves which we must retrieve from the demons who stole it from us in another lifetime, in order to find our own “home.”

The idea of “home” being that place in our own hearts where, as a result of our journey of progress, we achieve a soulful life and a psychical joy, is very powerful. Over time, it becomes something we can only accept as being miraculous, the gift of a “power greater than ourselves,” which we have learned to embrace. We are now arriving at a place we might call a “Promised Land.”

The Lifelong Quest For Sobriety…The Ultimate Hero’s Journey – Part 5

Guest Blogger and long-time Council friend, Bob W. presents Part 5 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.

In the movie, The Matrix, Morpheus, the leader of a rebel group, is trying to recruit a young neophyte, Neo, into joining him in a revolutionary plot to destroy the Matrix, a simulated system that has enslaved the human race.  Morpheus offers Neo a choice between taking one of two pills, a blue pill or a red pill.  He says:  “This is your last chance, Neo. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill—the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.  Remember:  all I’m offering is the truth.  Nothing more.”

This is wonderful analogy for the choice that those of us living in the fantasy of an addictive brain must do in our efforts to get and stay sober.  Do we accept the challenges of those standing by to help us, our sponsors, and take the red pill, or do we turn away, take the blue pill and stay in Neverland (where nothing is ever real) forever? The red pill takes us deep down into the labyrinthine passageways of our own brain, where pathologies of decades, simulated fire-breathing dragons and cruel prickly demons, may be lurking to derail our pursuit of Sobriety.

Neo takes the red pill and wakes up in a pool of gel, a pod where every enslaved member of the human race is locked in a comatose state. Being conscious of the Matrix now, he breaks free and begins the journey to understand the depths and terrors of the Matrix.

For us, this begins the process of taking inventory of our lives in the grasp of addictions, a journey into the depths and breadths of the horrific experiences we heaped on ourselves and countless others when our disease was running rampant.  This process of taking inventory is difficult, tedious to say the least, but we must be honest, rigorously honest, to make progress in freeing ourselves and our loved ones from the Matrix-like terrors of our addicted lives.