It is no exaggeration that the tragic excuse for a family into which my younger sister, Lois, and I were born, was characterized by a fierce, despairing craziness which, when mixed with alcohol, killed my mother and her sister, my brother and my sister, and almost killed me. Lois and I lived in that appalling mess for years. Eventually the authorities separated us into foster homes that were equally ghastly. We naturally became
“maladjusted to life” (as described in my sobriety text). Time flew by. Lois married, had three children, and died a suicide. Her note said “I’m no good as a wife and mother, and my family will be better off without me.” (Guess where she learned that!) I escaped the foster homes at age 16 and wandered the world for years before settling into a career in the Hollywood movie business, where alcoholism was rampant.
By age 32 I’d been alcohol-free for a year and was diligently attending sobriety meetings, but remained miserably unhappy and lost. I’d learned that alcoholics are characteristically immature, but I hadn’t learned what to do about it. Then, an acquaintance confided to me that he he’d been greatly helped by a donation only mental health program, Recovery International (RI). He said that RI taught people how to be mature and realistic, instead of infantile and emotional. I realized immediately that he was describing precisely what I’d needed to know all my life. In my first RI meeting I sat spellbound thinking “Where has this been all my life? I should have been taught all this as a kid. This is what I should have known all my life but didn’t.” Eager to learn it as fast as possible, I alternated my sobriety meetings with RI meeting. Three weeks later I’d attended nine RI meetings and suddenly people were commenting on how much I’d changed and matured. I finally had the answer I’d needed my entire life.
Without sobriety meetings, I likely would have died of alcoholism. Without my RI training, I very likely would have been a suicide, like my sister, since there are limits to what and how much unrelenting suffering even the toughest of us can tolerate. I took this great new insight seriously and watched my life change dramatically and rapidly for the better. Promotions began coming to me and I advanced in my career. From the start, I made serious business of my RI training, instead of treating it frivolously as I watched hordes of people similarly impaired, perish.
For years I wasted my money on doctor after doctor, hoping to find someone who could help me. Lois and I had been conditioned as children to hate ourselves and fear everyone else. Then, life had shown me how difficult it is to resolve or ameliorate that kind of conditioning.
My RI training rapidly resolved my lifelong problem of reeducating me out of my early conditioning and into solidly-trustworthy mental health and a mature and realistic behavior. It taught me that temper is my worst enemy, and that humor is my best friend. Whoever could have guessed that I’d one day be comfortable and able to behave in a cultured manner?
An Important Note
During the brief period long ago when psychoanalysis was all the rage and on everyone’s mind and tongue, there appeared a brilliant psychiatrist named Abraham Low, who said he didn’t believe for a minute that human behavior is dictated by compulsions Freud’s claim). He said it is directed by the will. His brilliant textbook, Mental Health Through Will Training, is available ($25 including shipping) from RI’s Chicago Headquarters. Visit the website www.recoveryinternational.org or call 866-221-0302 (toll free) to order the books or find a meeting.