The Infinite Monkey theorem states that if a monkey were hitting random keys on a typewriter keyboard for an infinite amount of time, that they would certainly produce any given text, such as the works of William Shakespeare. In fact, the monkey would almost surely type every possible finite text an infinite number of times. While that may be the theory, the real world attempts at trying to discern if it is true left researchers with a bunch of broken typewriters, the letter “s” typed repeatedly, and handfuls of feces flung into the machinery. Life can sometimes leave you feeling like Shakespeare, a monkey, or one of the researchers that have to clean up the mess. These days feel like I am more the researcher surveying the damage, with impatient monkeys slapping my ass.
Destined to live a mostly lonely and painful life… Those aren’t the words from some sort of horoscope, fortune cookie, or numerology reading. They are the quite literal notations that are found in the scholarly pieces about many of my personality traits and genetic markers. Even my Meyers Briggs designation of INFJ has a heavy note about that aspect of this personality. It is something that has always been there, yet I tried to ignore it, hoping that I would be a standout and that my experiences would be different. As I start to rebuild the sidelines and shoulders of this better thinking once again I have had to look at the data sets, the past experiences, and the things hidden in plain sight. On one hand I found out that you just can’t ignore these kinds of aspects of self, and on the other I found that I didn’t want to accept what they all were saying to me. This is a part of acceptance that eludes my best work, my best practices, because it wants to stay hidden, it wants to be lazy and avoid examination. Self forgiveness is one of the most difficult pieces of recovery for me to find, and it also has a trigger effect that leads right back to the old thinking patterns that alcoholism and addiction, multiplied and befuddled me with.
In trying to connect again to a fellowship that I have allowed to atrophy, the old feelings came rushing back. Those of inadequacy, hyper self-consciousness, and general feeling of being disliked. This was frustrating because I thought that I had come so far in all of my practicing and better thinking skills. As I pushed through the discomfort, I found that the meetings had taken on an overall theme as this was happening. That theme could be premised as how fragile the founding of AA was, how it came about, how it works, and how it survives. There was a difference in replies on just how fragile it was, but we couldn’t argue about how fragile sobriety is. That’s why this rush of old thinking, old self placement, and just wrong thought patterns alarmed me so much. Because right behind that is the poor me, poor me, pour me, kind of thinking and destructive acts. As I went through the feelings one by one, and listed them out mentally, I typed them into the search engine and cross matched the similar ones. It is the same as online shopping in a way, but instead of finding the accessories for a certain cellphone, the searches reveal the accessories found for those kinds of psyches, and disorders. The introspect and items of self that have created my story have become a laundry list of different psychoses and mental states over the years. The willing to be able to entertain things created a list of checkmarks, big and small. All of them not taken too far, but enough to keep the awareness that they might be playing a role in the short list of thoughts I use. I am grateful that through the practicing of all the work that recovery has shown me that I am able to do this, that I know when I am outside of my hula-hoop so to speak. I know that this type of self correction is also a gift of sorts that eludes some people’s abilities. That is one of the promises again, that whole intuitively knowing part in action.
What struck me most when I went through my most recent revelation of perspective was I hadn’t gotten very far at all on self-forgiveness. I still haven’t gotten very far at all on self-esteem, I really haven’t gotten very far from where I started out in many of these areas. Sure, I had thoughts, ideas, and mantra’s of sorts that made it all much more manageable, allowed me to have cope able thinking. But when it, that old thinking that I am not liked, alone, etc… came back around, my inventory showed I hadn’t accumulated much of anything in that space. I still had emotional problems with groups of any kind, and meetings were abnormally crunchy to get through. My ego was playing the worthless crap record over and over again and all of it felt way too much like the old days when I was out and about, awash in applied stupidity and absorbed in self pity. So faced with this new opening of what the hell thoughts, the research began in earnest once more. My childhood friend would always say that with enough Lego’s he could build anything. I guess the same can be said for matters of self knowledge, honest introspect, and the spirit you find in life, and about life. Because sometimes, by just being willing, you find the big pieces that fit together just right, which give the sharp and painful pieces that are always under foot a place to snap right in.
One of the reasons AA works is truth. People know their truth when they hear it, when they feel it, and when it hits home in all sorts of ways. The Big Book provides that truth about the similarities of the disease, the effects and affects on personal lives and those around the alcoholic. The same can be said when doing the work afterwards, finding those other self truths that feel just like the ones in the Big Book. When doing self-corrections and introspect that you know can help alleviate some of those inner stresses and pain. When doing the practicing of the practicing, the mediation and prayers; You sometimes find another aspect of self that opens a door and closes another, when you find a truth that only you thought you felt, when you experience something that changes your worldview to a small or large degree. After doing the work to relieve myself from the hopelessness of addictive thinking there was much more work to do. Not only in keeping myself from returning to it, but in finding the causations, the reasons why I was so enamored by the ‘solutions’ I found in those addictions. There has been no lack of insights in this overthinker’s journey through the years, and after a while those insights revealed some very pertinent information. Things that took a lot of pain getting through, and a wish to ease any of it for another soul along this happy road of destiny.
When I was fighting back those discomforting feelings in the meetings, and the theme revolved around fragility, I saw something else. The reason why the program works is because none of it does… What I mean by that is that not one aspect of it is a magical saving grace. It is the entirety of it that works, the entirety of the readings, the work, and continued practicing of using what you know now to navigate life with. That is the same as doing that work that falls outside of the parameters of the program, the practicing the principles in all our affairs part. In doing that other work, my story left some big questions left to be answered, most importantly was a sense of self. Who the hell was I? What was I? What’s even my story? What part of life am I in? Those existential questions carried very real pain filled thoughts. As I discovered some outstanding factors much of it started to fall into place. Genetic, environmental, sociological, ideological, and psychological, all of it making sense and telling my story. It has allowed me to unwind some of the damages those parts contain because after I recognized them, I could see them working, and I began to strip their power from them. The feelings and emotions that I was feeling about meetings, groups of people, and feelings of being disliked, and too weird, too different were the effects of one of these until now, unseen factors. It is a common subset of a social anxiety disorder called avoidant personality disorder. It leaves people with the same feelings and emotions I have had for years and was unaware of the disorder. The positive aspect is it encompasses some of my earlier epiphanies of self, and is also a side effect of others. I see parts of this in the story of many people in recovery, and it is a side effect from addictions as noted in the literature on the disorder.
I’m not suggesting others go through this kind of route. I will say though that it can help some as they navigate recovery. The way the individual’s history unfolded, the traumas and events that allowed addictions to take a firm rooting, the mannerisms that either inhibit, or continue the destructive cycles; They are all a part of this story that needed examination and correction, readjustment and understanding. With them come the unexpected highlights and milestones of self knowledge, and in that effort allows me to see others in a better and more empathetic light. I have no idea what the next insight may reveal, like the program itself, it is on its own course and happens as life does… on it’s own terms. As I pick up the books in my own library of thought that has weathered the earthquakes of life, another entry, and another milestone of self to enter into the better thinking tomes, another checkmark to place in the thought catalog.
3 responses to “The Thought Catalog”
Hard to believe but I think this piece is your best writing to date. My favorite anyway. Thought provoking and insightful. A hint of optimism and a humility based in gratitude. Well done my favorite Martin.
Ty Boss. 🙂
TY Boss 🙂