Philip Seymour Hoffman: The End of Quitting

He knew the habit wasn’t worth it. The inevitable consequences had long resonated, I’m sure. But the culture that says that such remembering, taken one day at a time, is the key to recovery is the culture that drives so many — even those who have sought help in the past — to die in the shadows. It’s just too embarrassing to admit you did it anyway. Again.

There are limits to empathy. Every addict lives in fear of reaching them.

Philip Seymour Hoffman: The End of Quitting

Part of my drinking was so much about trying not to feel things, to not feel how I actually felt, and the terrible thing about being so hidden is if people tell you they love you… it kinda doesn’t sink in. You always think, if you’re hiding things, How could you know who I am? You don’t know who I am, so how could you love me? Saying who I am, and trying to be as candid as possible as part of practicing the principles, has permitted me to actually connect with people for the first time in my life.

Shame

Shame. Just like with Hunger, my interest rarely wavered but I’m not totally sure what to make of it. It felt odd that a movie that’s so vivid and unafraid is also so… conservative? I’d scrap the song scene, which is a fine performance but so, so dreary compared to the rest of the movie. Michael Fassbender is incredible, though (makes me even more excited for Prometheus). Carey Mulligan is also great, with the reservation that I like her role’s characterizing-Fassbender function much more than her plot function as the movie progresses. I’m pretty sure I’ll watch whatever Steve McQueen’s next movie is.

Last year at a dinner party, I was seated near an overweight man who was eating heaping helpings of roast beef, bread, vegetables, and potatoes. During the meal, when he heard me mention that I specialized in addiction therapy, he said, “I’m a food addict. I’ve tried everything–Weight Watchers, The South Beach, raw food, Atkins, low-fat diets. Nothing works for me.” I looked at him and said, “Have you tried suffering?” He laughed out loud, as if I was joking. I wasn’t joking.

An excerpt from the opening of a later chapter of Unhooked, which I really liked. Great book on addictions of all sorts (cigarettes, weed, alcohol, porn, gambling, the internet, exercise, food…), how they develop and sustain, the value of therapy, relationships, change, case studies. The chapter continues…

A therapist should not strive to make you happy. Living well, even suffering well, are more attainable goals than being happy, regardless of what the advertising world, Hollywood, the Hallmark card company, and the pharmaceutical industry would have us believe.

Reminds me of Marcus Aurelius:

Remember too on every occasion which leads thee to vexation to apply this principle: not that this is a misfortune, but that to bear it nobly is good fortune.

The drunk’s club: A.A., the cult that cures – By Clancy W. Martin (Harper’s Magazine)

An alcoholic writes about AA and recovery. This is a fantastic essay. [$]

My own view-in-progress is that there is no such thing as alcoholism as a disease or an allergy or a condition, but that alcohol is a very effective and potentially addictive medication for a whole host of psychological and neurobiological problems. […]The problem with alcohol is not so much that it is an addictive medication; rather, it’s that, unlike other addictive medications–to which people will also grow or not grow addicted at varying speeds and in unpredictable ways–alcohol’s social function and accessibility obfuscate this reality. If you’re prone to overdoing it, the fact that you’re self-prescribing (and choosing your own dosage) doesn’t help.

And:

Like most alcoholics I prefer to be the center of attention. That’s one of the reasons drinking was fun. You’re the hero of every story.

And also:

When you keep hearing “Relapse is part of recovery, relapse is part of recovery” each night from a different person, sometimes two or three, and then you leave the meeting and see the neon beer signs of the bar on the other side of Main, well, those lights get a little sparklier. Elbows on the bar, squeezed in, the bartender smiles; that smell of the bar, the smell of self-acceptance, joy, and fellowship.

Help is out there, folks.

The drunk’s club: A.A., the cult that cures – By Clancy W. Martin (Harper’s Magazine)