Unhappiness: Part 2 Gerbil Wheel

The previous post lists the things that I find helpful when I’m feeling unhappy. Being unhappy is really just code for being self-centered.

It seems to me that what I was doing to cope with unhappiness was classic addictive behavior. Even if I hadn’t been an addict, it was typical dysfunctional behavior. I was focusing on the problem, not the solution. Thoughts of failure were running around and around in my head like a gerbil on the wheel. I couldn’t get the gerbil to go to sleep. Get off the thing and let me take a rest!

But no. Everything I thought about was circular and depressing. No wonder I was suicidal. I couldn’t imagine ever feeling better or ever getting back onto a regular life track. I felt doomed to living my caged life and running the wheel.

At the same time I was also submerging myself in escapism and mood-altering substances (wine and liquor) or activities that made my life more insane and more self-centered. So I was stuck on the wheel and running with a wine glass in my hand in front of the life-sized screen where I could watch the replay of my 55 years and see episode after failing episode in living color.

No wonder I was depressed! It wasn’t until I took the 4th Step that my actions and motives (link) all came into focus.

I had to look at myself very closely and didn’t like what I saw, but it was a huge relief to get it all out of my subconscious and onto paper where I could deal with it. I had a history of examining minutely the wrongs of others and giving myself the benefit of all doubts. All the self-centered and rationalizing behavior was adding up and making me miserable. Even worse, I now realize, is that I was often blaming everyone else for my life and my choices.

I’m not sure what kind of mental gymnastics it takes to blame God or others for our own behavior and our own choices, but it’s powerful stuff. I’ve listened to people blame God for not taking a long list of demands and fulfilling them. Just as often as I’ve seen people blame parents and siblings (or others) for all of their own debilitating defects of character. We often blame God and others for the bad choices we’ve made and don’t even realize it. The question is not What’s God doing? But What am I doing?

This is where AA comes in. Drum roll, please.

Putting out of our minds the wrongs others had done, we resolutely looked for our own mistakes. Where had we been selfish, dishonest, self-seeking and frightened? ~ AA p 67

Putting out of our minds the wrongs of others or the blame we place on God, we can begin to look where we need to—at ourselves. Honestly, it feels good to begin to unload all that stuff. Scary to start with, but so freeing!