The Lifelong Quest For Sobriety…The Ultimate Hero’s Journey – Part 4

Guest Blogger and long-time Council friend, Bob W. presents Part 4 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.

On the third day in the belly of the whale, Jonah finally surrendered.  He had traveled across the known world of the time trying to escape the mandate of his God,  that he travel to Nineveh and tend to its people. His flight was fraught with calamity, culminating with being devoured by a whale and suffering in its belly.  His surrender enabled his deliverance and the opportunity to engage his ministry.  Jonah’s experiences in the whale are not unlike the conflict with the multitudinous demons that we sufferers of the tragedies of addiction faced in the throes of our acting-out.  These demons took all forms and shapes and, in their capacity to enslave us, they seemed all powerful and eternal.

Like Jonah, we had been pursuing a distorted and fallacious life course. To get sober, to escape the demons, we had to surrender, to a higher power of our own choosing, in order to begin the ministerial work on our own Journey.  It is the work to pursue our very own Journey to Sobriety. As in the Hero’s Journey, we encounter guides and mentors, here in the form of sponsors, who introduce us to the processes of dealing with the terrors of our past.  In essence, the Journey is one to recognize the totality of our disease in all its aspects, the steps of admission, acceptance, and surrender.

In the Arthurian Legends, the Knights of the Round Table all pursued their own journeys, to find the Holy Grail, the gift of spiritual enlightenment.  They encountered tragedies and demons along the way, not unlike those we faced in our addicted lives and in the process of working to unravel the pathologies of those lives.  In recovery, the help of guides, sponsors, to show us the way, is tantamount.  These women and men embraced the process of working with us as a means to help themselves.  They are not unlike the Fisher King in the Arthurian Legends, who was charged with keeping the Grail safe, in a secret castle.  The Fisher King was also suffering a long festering wound that could only be ameliorated by the progress of the Knights seeking the Grail.  He is like our sponsors who achieve some relief from their own maladies in the process of helping others.

In every way, this Journey of ours, now begun in earnest, pursuing a life and process of Recovery, is like the Journeys of countless heroes in Mythology, in mythological stories that attend all of human society in every form and every culture, throughout history and around the globe.  We really are now pursuing a heroic quest…

Does Alcoholism Run in Your Family? Are You at Risk?

NIAAA Provides Answers to an Age-old Question

Alcoholism in the Family Tree

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse & Alcoholism (NIAAA) is providing answers to people who have a parent, grandparent, or other close relative with alcoholism who wonder about their risk from this family disease.

A Family History of Alcoholism: Are You at Risk? provides useful information based upon scientific studies about the genetic factors that influence alcoholism. These findings show that children of alcoholics are about four times more likely than the general population to develop alcohol problems. Children of alcoholics also have a higher risk for many other behavioral and emotional problems. But, the research also shows that many factors influence your risk of developing alcoholism. Some factors raise the risk while others lower it.

For those who personally affected by the disease of alcoholism, the NIAAA provides useful information and additional resources for getting help.

If you or a loved one has a problem with alcoholism or other addictions, The Council on Recovery can help. As Houston’s oldest and largest non-profit organization providing the full spectrum of prevention, education, intervention, treatment, and recovery services for individuals of all ages, The Council on Recovery is committed to helping Houstonians through a focus on family healing and long-term support that is equally accessible to all in need.  For more information, visit www.councilonrecovery.org.

 

The Lifelong Quest for Sobriety…The Ultimate Hero’s Journey—Part 3

Guest Blogger and long-time Council friend, Bob W., presents Part 3 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 early days of our Quest for Sobriety, we experience extreme highs and lows of spirit.  The realization that we are actually abstaining from the destructive substances or behaviors gives us a lift, a real sparkling of joy, here and there.  But the pain of the emotional and physical withdrawal comes and goes as well…and sometimes it crashes on our heads as unbearable torment.  The Journey we have begun must now proceed in earnest…

The various treatment systems provide a road map for us to travel.  Accepting the seriousness, the powerlessness and uncontrollability of the disease is the first critical step.  In concert with this, we must also accept that the disease and the power to recover are beyond our own individual resources. In the terms of the Hero’s Journey, these steps begin a journey to the Underworld, confronting the demons and trials therein, not unlike Jonah in the Belly of the Whale.  The examinations thus begun are necessary to determine the core truth of the outer and inner worlds before us.   For the addict, this part of the Journey is to travel over the past, down, down deep into the events of our addicted lives, to see in a clear light all that happened in the world we thought we ruled.  And in the process, as this Journey progresses, we begin to discover who and what we really are…

The Lifelong Quest For Sobriety…The Ultimate Hero’s Journey—Part 2

Guest Blogger and long-time Council friend, Bob W., presents Part 2 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 Chinese philosopher, Lao Tzu, has said that “the journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step.”  For those of us sufferers of addiction, the first step in the Journey to Sobriety may seem more like “a giant leap for mankind.”  Few of us are able to take that step without great difficulty and without many, many mis-steps.  The step to commit ourselves to the pursuit of a sober life can actually be the most difficult one in our lives.

In the concept of the Hero’s Journey, as it is known in literary and psychical circles, the first step results from a very poignant internal “call to adventure.”  It is the call to pursue a journey to gain some desperately needed boon for one’s self, for one’s family or for one’s community. For the addictive personality, mired in the terror of mindless consumptive or behavioral activity, this call is a deep internal cry for help.  When that cry finally hits us as unavoidable and impossible to ignore, we finally begin the journey…we enter the “rooms.”

We may have begun this before, perhaps many times. In the Hero’s Journey, there is a phase called “refusing the call,” where intense fear of the journey causes hesitation and procrastination.   For we sufferers of the diseases of addiction, the required admission of powerlessness to begin the journey can be elusive. Each time, the ability to reject the notion that the substance or behavior pattern that consumes us is too “valuable” to relinquish, looms as impossible.  Each prior time we couldn’t make that leap.  But then something hits us, that internal call to “adventure,” the call to pursue the life we see more clearly as absolutely necessary, strikes deep in our soul…and we begin. We embrace all the women and men who are standing by to help. We open our ears and we finally begin to listen. It still hurts, it still pains us to live each moment, each day without the drug…but we do, because we must, because to not do so is, eventually, to die.

…and, by doing so, by beginning, by surrendering, by just listening, we slowly but surely start to grow….

The Lifelong Quest For Sobriety…The Ultimate Hero’s Journey—Part 1

Guest Blogger and long-time Council friend, Bob W. presents Part 1 of a series dealing with Alcoholism and Addiction from a Mystical, Mythological Perspective, reflecting Bob’s scholarly work as a PhD. in mythological studies.


For those of us who suffer from the incurable disease of alcoholism, in all its forms, whether the compulsive consumption of various mind-numbing substances or the penchant for aberrant, dangerous behaviors, the quest for sobriety – physical, emotional, and psychological sobriety – is a life-long exercise.  Our genetic make-up or our early life traumas doom us to a lifetime of dealing with this disease.

But the quest for sobriety, a deep seated commitment to pursue the multitudinous avenues to change our behavior, can make for a life of true joy and contentment, despite the remnants of the disease that never go away.  In point of fact, our life in sobriety can turn out to be measurably better than that for those who have never experienced this disease.

This is what is to be explored in these notes….for it is clear to the thousands of us who are successfully traversing this path that the life of an ongoing quest for sobriety has no rival in the experience of man.

The pursuit of sobriety is truly a spiritual quest…not unlike the quest for the Holy Grail by Percival and Gawain and the Knights of the Round Table.  The commitment to do whatever it takes to achieve and maintain a sober state, the acceptance of our powerlessness to deal with all that happens around us, the embrace of the processes to connect with a higher power in and around us, and the will to deal with people, places and things in a commitment to service, sets us out on a quest to connect with the world in a truly glorious manner.

The Journey is one of choices and discovery…and it mirrors the idea of a Hero’s Journey in very close parallel.  From the calling to cross the threshold, a meeting room threshold or a line in the sand signifying the initial commitment, to the journey through an underworld of discoveries and realizations, to the gradual awakening of what the pursuit of sobriety can bring, this Journey is real, personal for each and every one of us, and mythic in its ramifications for us and those around us.

So this note, the first of many, begins a mythic quest of understanding for all of us…what are the elements of a truly deep seated quest for sobriety that will allow for a lifetime of joy and contentment we may never have experienced before, one whose energies and characteristics might resemble the majestic quests of mythology.