Cap’n John reads about the treasured and classic ARGHS!

Argh #10

Ernie, Edith, and Ellen all used drugs. 

Ernie was often criticized for his drug use and was eventually arrested. 

Edith received lots of applause and awards for hers. 

Ellen got attention, pity, and sympathy for hers. 

All three had one thing in common; they used their drugs to escape real life.

Ernie used the “Hell-No” drugs, the old standard substances which include the alcohol, illegal drugs, prescription drugs, and nicotine.  I call them “Hell-No” drugs because they are the ones society rises up to fight with magazine articles, news stories, ad campaigns, red ribbons and slogans like “Just say No!”.  It’s reasonable and sometimes even popular to be against the use of these substances.

Edith stayed away from those awful “Hell-No” drugs all her life.  She felt quite good about that; she was glad she wasn’t an addict like Ernie.  What she didn’t recognize was her own addictive dependency on “Halo” drugs. 

I call them “Halo” drugs because of the numbing effect they can have on the user.  The “Halo” drugs are behavior people use to escape making a deeper connection with themselves, their own pain, and their own life.  Some examples of “Halo” drugs are non-stop working, professional ambition and achievement, getting applause, living for appearances, exercising, dieting, shopping, cleaning, voyeurism (living life through others–living through watching sex, sports, soaps), or any other activity that will keep them busy and detached from themselves and others. 

Society has names for those who have these “Halo” addictions: workaholics, shopaholics, sports junkies, clean-freaks, and control freaks.  These behaviors reinforce early training that says people are meant to be more “human doings” than human beings.  I sometimes call them “Doing” drugs for that reason and say that those addicted to them end up leaving a stinky trail of Do-do in their wake! 

Our kids, customers, and co-workers will fare much better if we are more “beings” than “doings!”  Human beings are much better at Doing in the long haul!

Ironically, because people using “Halo drugs” often seem so nice and praiseworthy, “Halo drug” users are often in a deeper dilemma than those on Hell-No drugs.  Like Edith, they feel wise, accomplished, attractive, and even superior to others.  Their chances for true humility are diminished.  They have a much more difficult time being real.  Their ability to connect empathetically with others and to build trust is greatly hindered. 

Ellen has been down both the Hell-No and the Halo routes.  As a young woman in her teens and twenties, she was a hard partier, ingesting any Hell-No drugs she could get her hands on.  Thankfully, in her early thirties she fought back and got clean and sober. 

Regrettably, Ellen swung into the hard-core performance of Halo drugs.  She spent the next twenty years working non-stop, getting married, exercising, dieting, shopping, cleaning, achieving scholastically and professionally, and looking very successful.  Her mother was so proud of her.  But when her husband dumped her for another woman, the great image she had created for herself blew apart, and she crashed and burned.

While she didn’t go back to Hell-No drugs, she climbed into bed with a the depressed sister of Halo drugs, which I call the “Haunting” drugs.

Like Hell-No and Halo drugs, Haunting drugs also foster escape, self-diversion, and disconnection.  Unlike them, Haunting drugs took Ellen into the pain and tried to keep her there.

The healthy emotions of anger, regret, and sorrow helped her grieve at first.  But instead of processing out of her old life with acceptance and forgiveness, Ellen hung on to her negative emotions.  The anger, regret, and sorrow turned dark and became bitterness, resentment, retaliation, hatred, and even violence.  Worry and anxiety fueled by self-hatred and rejection kept her Haunted by her past and paralyzed in thinking about her future. 

While Hell-No drugs and Halo drugs are used for the same desired outcome, to numb the user’s pain, the Haunting drugs flip that and bring the user directly into the pain—over and over.  This fulfills the user momentarily (like a drug fix) with a self-righteous sense of authenticity as in, “Look at me; I’m feeling my pain, unlike you Hell-No and Halo people!”

The pain in life and the emotions of anger, regret, and sorrow that accompany pain are legitimate.  Avoiding these through Hell-No or Halo drugs is called denial.  Wallowing in them with Haunting drugs becomes a denial of the future. 

The use of all these drugs is debilitating and deadly to users and hurtful to those around them, but there is a way to move forward.

Anger, confusion, and sorrow are powerful friends to help us be with ourselves and value our journey.  Using them properly is the key to recovery from all drug abuse.  In the next chapter, we will see how they can be our friends, and why we so often try to avoid them.

Argh #9 Discussion Time:

  1. What was interesting to you in this chapter?

  2. Name a Hell-No, Halo, or Haunting drug you still use more or less frequently to stay away from connecting with yourself?

  3. Why do we sometimes stay away from our feelings?

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