Enough Is More Than Enough

Freighter - Great Lakes

Thanksgiving means different things to different groups, all protestations notwithstanding.

For Native Americans it is a reminder that simple acts of generosity can result in the loss of a homeland.

For turkeys it is an opportunity to sacrifice in service to the nation, a sacrifice made freely because among turkeys it is well understood that pleasing humanity is the ultimate responsibility, indeed, the highest calling, for all animals.

Among alcoholics, Thanksgiving is known as the official start of Drinking Season, which does not conclude until the very last play of the Super Bowl.

No matter which disorder, illness, condition, syndrome, or demon nips at your heels, Thanksgiving has much to offer. Take gluttony as an example, flagship of the Thanksgiving neurosis armada. Thanksgiving unapologetically celebrates the American desire to have too much of everything now until it is gone.

It is frequently observed by people who make this observation frequently that one of the great human questions is how to define “enough”. This is especially true when it comes to mental health.

No one can tell us whether we have enough because we get to decide what “enough” means to us. This profoundly empowering concept appears to be lost on the entire American nation of “sane” people since, almost without exception, they seem to never have enough of anything they want. They lead lives of perpetual grasping, like Tantalus; fulfillment is always out of reach.

Americans sitting at the Thanksgiving table resemble the early pioneers who, bristling with a sense of manifest destiny, struck out for parts unknown buoyed by a supreme self-confidence and belief that they were entitled to capture, kill, eat, or at least decorate, anything they found. This atmosphere of Roman indulgence, bordering on an hysterical appetite gratification, is with us even today.

Lost is the notion that Thanksgiving is intended as welcome respite from our endless ego-driven campaigns when we may count our blessings with appropriate humility and gratitude and consider what we might do to deserve them.

And so my fellow Whackadoomians, my fellow residents of Cookoopantsatopolis, we must look upon these tormented individuals and remember that for some of us it is easier to be grateful, for some of us the bar is lower, for some of us the priorities are closer to the ground; for some of us life is both more complex and simpler.

As you know, I usually use this column to give the appearance of making personal observations without actually doing so. However, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, which is to say, giving, I will tell you one thing that makes me feel grateful.

I am grateful I was not born in the Middle Ages when people with bipolar disorder were routinely burned at the stake because it was thought they were possessed by Satan.

In the cold church basements with their obligatory coffee machines, battered folding chairs, and nicotine stained posters, we are told to concentrate on what we have, not what we don’t have.

I do not know what “enough” means to you, that is for you to define. Maybe it is just that you are doing a little bit better fighting your battles than you did last year. On this Thanksgiving, I hope that you can look at life and say, today I have enough, and I am grateful for what I have.

Don’t Raise The Bridge, Lower Your Expectations Of The River

Why Raise The Bridge Expectations Of River

You may find that recovery road is every bit as lonely as the road to ruin; but do not let this deter you. It all comes back to expectations, if you don’t expect a parade you can’t be disappointed when the boulevard is empty and there is no confetti in the air.

“Why raise the bridge when you can lower your expectations of the river?” Taz Mopula

Naturally, the mentally ill don’t really expect effusive gratitude and praise as they traipse the corridors of deserted carnival funhouses at night, staring into mirrors carefully constructed to distort reality in countless ways. We don’t expect it because we don’t think about others at all, much less how they perceive us; the solitary cul-de-sac we inhabit is world enough.

“For the sake of convenience be your own best friend. It’s always easy to get in touch with you.” Taz Mopula

The same applies for those of us who drink alcoholically, or take drugs – we may have some awareness of how our behavior torments others but in the end, who cares? The hungers of a callous demon, residing within a Byzantine labyrinth of twisted emotions, take precedence over all else.

“Before you learn to run you learn to walk; before that you learn to fall on your face, crawl, and summon the grit to get up.” Taz Mopula

The luckiest among us begin a journey away from the dark and into the light, and in so doing, develop improved self-esteem. (Some folks even dislocate their shoulders as they enthusiastically pat themselves on the back.)

“Be nice to your enemies; you just might be one of them.” Taz Mopula

In the fellowship one often encounters newly sober individuals who express disappointment because they are not getting the recognition they feel is appropriate. Happily, there is usually an old-timer nearby to ask them why they expect praise for doing what they should have been doing all along.

“Entitlement is a fraudulent concept. We are none of us entitled to anything. Even that next breath you crave is a gift.” Taz Mopula

Whether it’s mental illness you battle, or addiction – or, as is the case for so many of us, both – it pays to remember that you are doing it for yourself. You are changing, the people around you may not be, worse still, they may be heavily invested in having things stay just as they’ve always been.

“Looking for self-worth in someone else’s eyes is like trying to breathe with someone else’s lungs.” Taz Mopula

They may love you as a loser and fear, even despise, you as a winner. It is not unknown for friends and family members to actively undermine recovery, or at the very least, attempt to belittle, or negate, it. Do not judge your progress according to the presence or absence of brass bands.

“There is only one truly authentic way to enjoy success; that is by remaining indifferent to it.” Taz Mopula