‘What a surprise. I don’t know everything!’ by Peapod

2007_0118walpole0094Life got a bit easier for me in early recovery when I let go of my need-to-know-and-understand-everything mentality.

My background and training before I came to work in addiction treatment was scientific. I had to break the world down into understandable components and had a fairly rigid and cognitive world view. In many ways I was trapped in my head. Science can explain everything and if it can’t be explained, I’m not interested.

Well, science didn’t help me particularly with my addiction when it arrived and I certainly tried to understand it. Do you know there are over 40 theories of addiction? It’s likely when there are so many that we won’t really ever agree completely on what’s going on. The funny thing is that I’m okay with that today.

I was watching a programme on the nature of reality this week on telly. It was about quantum physics. Essentially the brightest minds on the planet (scientifically) can’t understand how matter works. They say if you think you understand it, you’re not understanding it. This chimed with me, for a great discovery in recovery is that not only can I not understand everything, I don’t have to.

The 12-Step programme did my head in at the beginning, as I tried to grasp what it meant and how it could possibly work for someone as smart as me (yes I had arrogance running through me like “Blackpool” runs through a stick of rock). It all turned around when I gave in, threw in the towel and gave it my best shot. It helped that I’d tried prescribing, CBT and bloody-minded, white-knuckling determination to no avail.

Acceptance that I was not at the centre of the universe and that intellect alone would not rescue me helped. Developing a practical spirituality was key for me though not easy. I needed more than the mind. As an organic creature I found not only could I not be contained by science, neither could the world, because as we experience it, we give it meaning and meaning is pretty hard to measure in the lab. Reading the book “The Spirituality of Imperfection” helped me, as did “The Road Less Travelled”.

These days I can still retreat to my head in an instant. It’s a familiar and comfortable place for me, but it’s by blending my thinking, my experience, my gut and “wise place” and listening to others that helps me navigate. There are stormy waters and sometimes I get it wrong, but it’s easier than it used to be. The universe is bigger than I can understand, but so am I and so are you. Accepting this has helped me greatly and some days it even keeps me humble.’

Another great blog from Peapod, submitted in January, 2011.