C is for Commodity vs. Ritual
In early sobriety and new to recovery I was extremely vulnerable. Raw with emotion and completely baffled as how to do much of anything, it was impossible for me to trust anyone, especially myself. It was is at this low point that many of us are desperate and finally willing to do anything to feel better. It is also at this point that people can be taken advantage of by others. There are a lot of for-profit rehabs and recovery centers. There are any number of books one can buy (I am in the midst of writing one myself) and programs one can subscribe to in the recovery world. Not all are bad but not all are good either. I certainly don't want to discount any program that has helped anyone get sober. I also feel in some circumstances personal financial investment can be a great motivator for further emotional, intellectual and eventually spiritual investment in recovery. Trusting what is right when one is desperate can lead to disaster. Trust was also the only way I was able to truly begin to heal. One red flag I have found is guaranteed results. There are no guarantees. The thoughts, words and ideas that work best for me are guidelines and suggestions. I feel like any guarantee is an open invitation for blame when it doesn't work. The blame then leads to resentment and those lead me to thoughts of drinking. I then feel failure and doubly ashamed because they took my money. Again, I think it is best to do what feels right, not always good but right. This has gotten easier with time and experience for me. It is this commodifying of recovery that leaves a bad taste in my mouth and as an alcoholic I have tasted a lot of bad things.
Craig Ferguson once said, "You can't beat it with money. If you could beat this rap with money, rich people wouldn't die." And they die from alcoholism every single day. Commodifying something means to put a finite value on it. There is no amount of money that a desperate person wouldn't pay to save their life. I think the difference between commodity and ritual is value vs. meaning and that is what I think people seek more than anything, meaning. I know I did and still do. In active alcoholism anything close to a ritual I had was simply a routine that only served my craving for alcohol. Nothing had any meaning and my addiction lived only to keep my addiction alive even at the expense of my life. Like a parasite aggressively eating its host my alcoholism nihilistically tore through my relationships, my bank accounts and my health. I cannot say how close to death I was near the end of my drinking but I was miles away from living anything resembling a good life.
Today the rituals I have help to give purpose and meaning to my life. Daily journaling sorts out my thoughts. Running is medicine for my body as well as my mind. I work at prayer and meditation. I falter constantly but I work at it. I spend time in my fellowship, help when asked and listen to other alcoholics. I look for connection with my higher power. It all eludes me some of the time but the alternative to all of it seems at the same time inconceivable and ever present. So each day I go back to the imperfect habits and the inconsistent routines. I know they are flawed but positive things that through repetition a meaningful ritual can be cultivated and something can be learned. Inspiration can be applied to make today as good as I am able, to find joy in my efforts and contentment in what I have created.