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What's out of the gutter...

"Did they get you to trade
Your heroes for ghosts?"

- Pink Floyd

During our lives as practising addicts, we come into contact with some pretty dangerous people. Most of us live in constant fear of crooked police, dealers wanting debts repaid and of our "circle of friends" ripping us off. 

In recovery, we look forward to dealing with a different group of people. We envision honest dealings with honest people and never having to worry that people close to us, both business and personal, may screw us. It can be disappointing to discover that what's out of the gutter is as bad as what's in it... only it wears a suit. There's a lot of teeth behind many of those smiles. The old saying regarding people being the same wherever you go turns out to be quite true.

Please don't interpret that what I am saying is that all people are "bad". We just need to be aware that we are all human, and whether an addicts or not, human nature has a tendency towards injustice and selfishness.

In our previous world; guns, fists and knives were the weapons. In the new life we build for ourselves the weapons of choice become words, paperwork and politics. It becomes a chess game instead of a Doom death match. I have noticed this especially as I moved from casual, seasonal labor to administrative roles in the workplace. As I recovered, I was able to secure better paying positions with more technical involvement and responsibility.... and boy, did I have a lot to learn about people! The hardest lesson was that I could trust a number of people I worked with no more than my heroin dealing friends from the "dark days".

I guess I could have viewed life two ways after my realization.

a)- The world was full of scum and therefore there was no point in making an effort. I may as well not bother about trying to stay clean and sober.

b)- That regardless of what I had discovered, to stay sober was the most important thing in the world for me. At least sober, I would have some control over how I let my environment affect me, and that I would not cause the damage to others I had before.

While there are many victories in recovery, there are as many disappointments. The full realization of human nature being among them. You will strike people holding powerful, responsible positions who are just as corrupt as the friendly neighborhood crack dealer... the "pillars of the community" who go home after a day of providing welfare services to others to beat their wives.... 

But you have an advantage.... you are a recovered addict and have learnt to live in two very distinct worlds. Addicts, being master manipulators while practising also become very skilled in knowing when they are being manipulated. Use these skills to your advantage.

Never allow yourself to become too angry with people. Recognize in difficult people the traits that you once displayed and use your manipulative skills for positive outcomes that serve to hurt no one. In the corporate world, manipulation is referred to using lofty terms such as "negotiation" and "conflict resolution". People go to university for years to acquire these skills. You already have them.

If a "suit" becomes irritated with your ability to deflect them, they may try to "get down in the gutter and boogie" with you.... congratulations, they are now in territory you are very familiar with - they will lose. Remember the lessons the gutter taught you, but ensure that you don't return to it - once the battle is over, center yourself - remind yourself of what is important in your life. 

For many corporate people; position, salary, fringe benefits and awards is what motivates them. The goals of the recovered addict are serenity and wisdom. It's strange, but I sometimes feel sorry for people that have not yet tasted poverty as it will be very hard for them if they are ever forced to do so. People who have not yet had the occasion to truly recognize the dark side of themselves are living in a fool's paradise, and the piper will be paid at some time.

No matter how bad situations may appear to you in your new life during recovery, and the disappointments you will face, always remember how bad it was before - that may assist drawing things back into perspective.

As for me, have I perfected the strategies that I have mentioned in this article or attained serenity and wisdom?.... no.. not even close yet; that's why I have written it...

.... to remind me.

Michael Bloch

Copyright information.... This article is free for reproduction but must be reproduced in its entirety along with the authors' name and web site link. This copyright statement must be also be included. (c) 2001 - 2007 Michael Bloch, World Wide,. All rights reserved.

Copyright (c) 2001 - 2007 Taming the Beast -

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