Saturday, January 25, 2014

Don’t tell me I am Too Sensitive when you are Drunk or Half Gone on Non-prescribed Pain Killers

Don’t tell me I am Too Sensitive
when you are Drunk or Half Gone on Non-prescribed Painkillers

Seems like it is hard to find people who are willing to be present, people who are not taking something or distracted by some behavioral addiction or compulsion. Further, there is seemingly little pressure for people to be sober and present. Some days it feels like it is a culturally sanctioned activity to be half in the bag or checked out.

Please note, I acknowledge that many people are legitimately taking medications for genuine medical reasons—I am not talking about that. I also know that there are individuals who are really struggling with their eating disorders, shopping addictions, and gambling problems (and other behavioral addictions) and want out- I know this. I am not talking about this either.

I am talking about the epidemic of people not soberly present in their lives. AND- then the underlying message that people who are present and actually feeling their feelings are too sensitive, moody, over reacting, over the top, too passionate, or maybe even crazy.

I especially struggle when I spend time with people that I know they are on non-prescribed drugs (including overuse of alcohol and other recreational drugs with the intention to not be present), manifesting the day-to-day artificially, chemically induced, happiness with the pretense that if you are having a normal challenging reaction to something horrible in the world, or fatigue from actually being present on a full-time basis—that there is something wrong with you (yeah- super long run-on sentence, I know- it had to be that way).

There is some pretty serious stuff going on in this world. A lot of it with scientific explanations and complications that make it difficult for anyone who is not a specialist in a particular field to sort out (e.g., genetically modified foods, climate change, waste management, mass production of non-recyclable goods, nuclear energy, etc..). Other social, political, and economic science concerns that can be as difficult to intellectually negotiate as the scientific questions (e.g., income inequality, poverty, unemployment, underemployment, gun regulation, taxes, education, drug rehabilitation, health care, etc..). It is very overwhelming. I want to do, and vote for, the right thing, the best thing, in all cases. To be honest, even with all of the education I have accrued and all of the reading and trying to know that I do, I don’t fully understand what would be best.

Then there is my own life. It is like yours. I have family, friends, work, and community—I have those relationships and the associated challenges and gifts, all of wonderful and horrible things going on. Trust me, I get why people want to be drugged out, drunk, or distracted by a compulsion, an eating disorder, a shopping problem, or a gambling addiction.  It seems easier that way (in many respects). It seems easier to just numb out a bit.  Once numbed out, I could just take on a belief, an opinion, and stop all of the figuring it out. I could be numb and righteous about it all. I get that. It’s seductive.

I am torn.
Like Carl Jung says-
Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” Carl Jung (Read more at
My struggle today is letting people be on their own path of growth- yes- but- then- struggling to negotiate day-to-day activities with people who are checked out and simultaneously, actively judging others. See? Is it okay to judge people for judging you? Cause if you are trying not to judge, it is obviously wrong and so people who judge are wrong, right? And that is my struggle.

When we struggle, righteousness is super, super seductive Watch this—

There are costs to this checking out.

Costs of Substance Abuse (NIH,
Abuse of tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drugs is costly to our Nation, exacting over $600 billion annually in costs related to crime, lost work productivity and healthcare.**

Health Care
$96 billion
$193 billion
$30 billion
$235 billion
Illicit Drugs
$11 billion
$193 billion

Still, it does not serve me or anyone else to be righteous and judgmental.

As Carl Jung said
Every form of addiction is bad, no matter whether the narcotic be alcohol or morphine or idealism.” Carl Jung (Read more at

Thing is, I have this fire in my heart to change things.

I worry that it is circular. We become disingenuous and checked out because of the hypocrisy and dogma-- and then lost, we become part of it. We have now become part of the toxic system, setting up the next soul for struggle.

I see the consequences in my work with my patients and in my family members and friends who are struggling. I SEE THIS IN MY OWN STRUGGLES.  There is a substantial portion of the human race that finds hypocrisy toxic to their souls. Maybe it is all of the human race. Ultimately, many forms of disorder may be a dysfunctional form of self-protection. You see, the lies, the secrets, the horrible discrepancies that arise when there is addiction or abuse in a family or culture--  they hurt. Even the unspoken—they hurt. They have energy and that energy does not resonate with health, well-being, or thriving. In an effort toward self-preservation, people feel that all that they can do is check out. At least they won’t feel this pain anymore.

And so the cycle goes.

Once you have checked out, you do not want to be confronted with, or conflicted about, your own hypocrisy or disingenuous behavior. NO! YOU DO NOT!

So, then, unknowingly, a sober, present, functioning person comes a long- ugh- how annoying is that?

It’s back to the good old cognitive dissonance. We don’t like to feel challenges in our beliefs or actions. We like it all to line up neatly, all of the time. In fact, when we engage in behavior that may not be healthy for us, we create a whole line of reasoning to justify it. Some people call this rationalizing. We make it okay. “I am checked out because I am a relaxed person. People need to relax now and again. The world is too painful. I need this to cope, etc. etc..” We have a whole lines of reasoning. In the alcoholic world there is a great line, “Poor me. Poor me. Pour me a drink.”

And so this sober, present, want-to-make-a-difference person comes along and we do not want to hear it because deep down, we want that. We want to be be present, engaged, and making difference. But, sh&%- it sucks to have that right in my face when I am half checked out and have a million good reason for being this way. And so- you know what? It is way easier for me to make you bad than for me to look at my own stuff and so- W say to ourselves- that person is too sensitive, they worry to much, they try too hard, they this and they that...... And so we get to the title of my blog today--

Don’t tell me I am Too Sensitive
when you are Drunk or Half Gone on Non-prescribed, Pain Killers

Do you know what happens? Do you know what happens when the sober sensitive, staying-in-the-game people get knocked down, ignored, and criticized by the other checked-out (yet ultimately, good, sensitive, wanting-to-make-a-difference-but-got-too-overwhelmed-at-some-point people)- they are at-risk for struggle.

I see it like that move THE BLOB- the 1958 film about this big mass taking over a town ( The checked-outs suck in the sober-still-trying’s- until we all are part of the checked-out blob not doing anything about all of that important stuff I listed above.

It scares the crap out of me (so did that movie when I was little).

Zuri’s Story

Zuri is scared. She is at her Aunt’s Jasmine’s, both she and Rashan. Eric is missing again. She wonders if she should call it “missing” anymore- really what is “missing"? Because what really goes down is that he isn’t really missing anymore- despite his promises- he is never home. If Zuri is really honest- Eric visits home now. So, he is not missing- he lives somewhere else, who knows where, but not at their house and he visits now and again. It is great when he visits. It is great when he protects her. It is great when he is sober and make promises. Still, Zuri sees Eric becoming a lot more like her mom that anything else.

Ahhhh, if she really thinks about it, it is almost like her mom visits too.

Eric and her mom live in a land outside of normal consciousness. They drop in and find the land of sobriety a bit too harsh for their senses and then they leave again, back to alcohol, back to drugs, back to painkillers, and back to the place where their problems include paying for the next high. It gets simple like that.

(If you ever wondered about what the inner workings of an addicts mind are like read- Goldfinch [] or any of these books listed on Goodreads (

Zuri got really scared this morning. Her Aunt Jasmine has all of her cancer drugs on the table. When Jasmine was making breakfast, Zuri looked over the bottles. She found it: Hydrocodone, ugh. Zuri felt as if she might even hate drugs at this point. Her aunt was humming an old church song while making pancakes. At that moment, Zuri figured out the sick feeling that had been rumbling around in her belly since she got there. Aunt Jasmine was on them too. When you are the child of an addict, you feel it in your core when someone is not present. You just know.

Zuri felt tears stream down her face. She wiped them away as quickly as they came down. She knew Jasmine was super sick and in a lot of pain since her surgery. She knew this and she did not want her aunt to be in pain. She also knew that Jasmine had herself and Rashan to worry about. Jasmine also had all of the worries about Sherece, Zuri's mom. She knew these worries were bringing Jasmine down. She knew that Jasmine had to go to court for them. She knew what Jasmine was going to have to go against her sister. All of this Jasmine had to do while she was in treatment for cancer. Yeah, Jasmine was on painkillers too.

Zuri felt like these drugs were taking over her whole world. They were slowly sucking everyone, even the safest people, in. She started to feel like she could not breathe. Jasmine’s humming was not good to hear. It was like hearing a dissonant note on the piano. It was oddly disturbing- the seemingly happy humming, chemically induced okayness slathered over a big, gigantic pile of physical and mental pain. Zuri squeezed her hands on her head. She couldn’t take it. She shoved her chair back and ran upstairs. Jasmine and Rashan looked at each other. Rashan was lost. Jasmine confused. Jasmine turned of the stove and, tired, walked upstairs.

Zuri couldn’t talk to her. She couldn’t say a world. Jasmine pushed and Zuri lied, “I am just sad about my mom.”

Zuri lied.

Jasmine is doing her best to cope. She is so very sick and now she has the children to figure out. She is as worried about Eric and Sherece as Zuri is. And  Zuri—Zuri breaks her heart. Jasmine didn’t mean to take the extra painkillers this morning. It was just that she was so tired. And she figured later, she would skip a dose and make up for it. She knew that Zuri knew. When Zuri lied, Jasmine let her. Jasmine felt it deep in her belly- the dissonance.

She went downstairs and dumped all of the painkillers. They were gone and with them the lies.

The process

I am not sure if Jasmine did the right thing or not. I don’t know the pain she is in and I don’t know if she will be okay. This is a conversation for her and her doctor. That is what I can say for sure. If you get a sense that you are checking out- using the drugs to help you deal with things instead of you actually dealing with things- that is when you need to stop- do what you need to do. Painkillers are for physical pain- not stress.

The cycle of checking out and rationalizing and not being present is epidemic. It can only change one present soul at a time. You see in Zuri’s Story and in our own lives there is a constant pressure to lie, to check out, and to become part of the problem, THE BLOB OF UNCONSCIOUS EXISTENCE (yeah, it still scares me).

This blog is an invitation to come OUT HERE to the place where we can make a difference- to sober, presence.

It can be really fun out here. No hangovers, fewer regrets (it is not perfect out here- lots of room for mistakes- still- trust me there are fewer), and out here has many better mornings. It is good. With all of your extra energy saved from not fighting the exposure to neurotoxins and opiates, you can actually do stuff that might change the world- and we need YOU.

So come out here, play, work, and be of power.

Challenge your cognitive dissonance. Let yourself be challenged and don’t bring down the sober, hard-trying soul that is trying to get you off your As$ and into the game.

This is a request out of love for you, for this earth, and all of the stuff we need to do right now. I need you. Zuri needs you. The world needs you.

This is The Yoga Bag blog- yes it is- so……guess what is a great way to handle your stress without checking out- yep- yoga and meditation.

See you in class!



References and Notes

Cognitive Dissonance (

Question: What Is Cognitive Dissonance?
People tend to seek consistency in their beliefs and perceptions. So what happens when one of our beliefs conflicts with another previously held belief? The term cognitive dissonance is used to describe the feeling of discomfort that results from holding two conflicting beliefs. When there is a discrepancy between beliefs and behaviors, something must change in order to eliminate or reduce the dissonance.
How exactly does cognitive dissonance work and how does it influence how we think and behave?
Psychologist Leon Festinger proposed a theory of cognitive dissonance centered how people try to reach internal consistency. He suggested that people have an inner need to ensure that our beliefs and behaviors are consistent. Inconsistent or conflicting beliefs leads to disharmony, which people strive to avoid.
In his book A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance, Festinger explained, "Cognitive dissonance can be seen as an antecedent condition which leads to activity oriented toward dissonance reduction just as hunger leads toward activity oriented toward hunger reduction. It is a very different motivation from what psychologists are used to dealing with but, as we shall see, nonetheless powerful."
The amount of dissonance people experience can depend on a few different factors, including how highly we value a particular belief and degree to which our beliefs are inconsistent.

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