Staying Sober with a Kindergarten Mentality

Getting sober is tricky. The reason it’s tricky is because we think we know it all. We could not be farther from the truth. We figure that we’re adults and we’ve gotten this far, so we tend to rely on what we think we know to get us even further. Question: How is that supposed to work? At least, that’s the question that I asked myself when it was time to quit drinking for good. How am I supposed to get above relapse if I’m going to rely only on what I already knew? It doesn’t make sense.

That’s what happened the first time I quit drinking. I thought everything that I was doing was working. I had medication from doctors, and I wasn’t drinking, so I thought that I was in the clear doing the things I was doing, and with the information that was already in my head. I didn’t know the dangers of what I was given. I read about side effects and things like that, but never actually looked into long-term effects. I definitely had zero idea that Xanax is basically alcohol in pill form. It hits the same receptors that alcohol does in your brain. That’s the type of knowledge I wish I had back then but, at least  now I know why it worked so well. The anxiety that I felt caused my alcoholism was gone, and I had no need to drink. It felt like a beautiful time. Then, with the same mindset that I had before, I decided that I could do this. I could drink. I wasn’t depressed or anything like that, but I was dating and wanted to live a normal life. I told myself that I’m not gong to let alcohol do that to me again, so I started going to a local bar after work. Like I always do, I made a ton of friends, especially with the bartenders. I’m outgoing and I tip well, but I never really had to spend a lot of money, because the bartender always knew that if he or she hooked me up, they were going to be able to put more cash in their pocket. That’s how I set it up. I’ve been doing it the same way for years.

Well… after believing that I was doing finally doing it right for almost a year, I realized that I was only kidding myself again. I had put myself in the same situation as before, only it was much worse because the anti-life (psychiatric and anxiety) medications were added into the mix. Now, I was down the rabbit hole farther than I had ever been and still had no clue. That is, until I was calling an ambulance to pick me up so I could detox again. Fuck.

Now what? How does an intelligent, conscious human being repeat the same life threatening actions over and over? What is this cycle? It’s a cycle that many people continue to live by. It doesn’t have to involve drugs or alcohol either. We get into repetitive actions that do not benefit our lives with food, phones, TV, internet, etc. We know too much. Or do we?

Kindergarten mentality is not a new idea, but it is effective. You are basically admitting to yourself that you don’t know shit. The hardest part is admitting that you know very little about yourself (I just felt someone get defensive). That’s your ego getting defensive. I’m sorry, but If we did know more about ourselves, we wouldn’t be in the position of having to overcome these addictions. That doesn’t make us stupid. It just means that you’re a human being. The problem is that when we learn, we mostly do it at a young age. When we become adults, we tend to stop learning. The most successful people in the world are constantly feeding themselves knowledge. That’s why they are successful, so maybe we can learn something.

I knew that the way I was living life wasn’t working, so I had to change some things. I also knew that I needed to learn how to be me again. But how do I do that if I’ve already known myself for 39 years (at the time)? Using a kindergarten mentality allowed me to look at things with a brand new pair of eyes, so I could try to re-open my mind. I had to forget everything that I thought I knew about myself. I did some really smart things too, like making it easier on myself by actually learning about topics that I knew nothing about, especially ones I may have had a negative opinion about before, or never really gave a chance. I gave myself push-back on things I did know. I asked myself why certain beliefs were entrenched in my head so deeply. Questions like that are tough, but when we don’t pretend like we have all the answers, they get just a little easier to figure out.

If you’re anything like me (another human being on this planet), this may be true for you too. I look at life differently now. I look at it with a lot of excitement, and a healthy eagerness to live it, because I started over and was able to learn again, just like I was in kindergarten. That is exactly how I finally caught on to meditating, which in turn, helped me learn to be more mindful of other people, my surroundings, my mind, and body. It’s much easier to do this when we’re older, than it was in kindergarten. It might have been just as scary at first, but I stuck with it and it works. We can’t go back to kindergarten, but we can attempt to see the world with the same wonder and curiosity that we did when we were there. It’s not about being louder than anyone, or smarter than anyone. It’s about realizing that you have humbled yourself to a point where you may be out of options soon. Why not give yourself the opportunity to be successful at recovery, so you can re-enter society as a better you?

Personally… I’d rather take a step back for a few months, than label myself a recovering alcoholic and go to meetings for the rest of my life just so society can pretend that I have an incurable disease.

 

 

 

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