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The Feeling Gap

Father James Schwertley

   “I was so lonely I thought I would vomit,” the pretty young girl said. “I had no friends. Oh, my parents cared but I had no real friends outside the home. I felt I just couldn’t function.”

   “I felt different,” a slim, long-haired young man said. “I kept trying to be part of something, but I couldn’t. I wanted to die. Living didn’t seem worth it.”

   An almond-eyed young lady spoke next.  “I wanted to be hip, slick and cool,” she said, “but didn’t feel that way inside.”

  “I was a nothing trying to be something,” a kindly looking young man in a denim shirt said.

   So spoke members of a young people’s Alcoholic’s Anonymous group, talking about the subject of self-image.

      They all related they did not feel good about themselves and that alcohol and drugs had given them the temporary ability to accept themselves. Then it began to turn on them. As they lost control of their lives, their self-loathing grew. So they ingested more to regain the good feeling. It would return temporarily but wouldn’t stay.  

      “I would get high,” a pretty, curly-haired girl said. “Then the high would start to fade so I would drink more to stay high. Then I would start getting sick and eventually end up drunk and depressed.” This process kept repeating itself.

   They all spoke of the tremendous feeling of well-being and joy that alcohol and drugs gave them.

      It is like Charlie Brown turning into Charlton Heston as Moses and parting the Red Sea in ‘The Ten Commandments.’  This great gap of before and after feelings is something the mind does not forget.

   This is how alcoholism and chemical dependency begins for many. The mind becomes dependent on the highs and develops a committed relationship to those highs. These then become central in the life and other persons and duties begin to fade. In the case of chemical dependency, the mental usually precedes the physical. It eventually affects the victim in all areas of life—mental, physical, spiritual, emotional, social and volitional.

      This is not to say inner insecurities are the cause of alcoholism. Some have such insecurities and never resort to altered states. It is not to say that alcoholism is merely a symptom of underlying difficulties, as some believe. It may start that way in some cases, but it soon develops into a pathology in its own right, producing its own symptoms.

   Young people, going through a turbulent time of transition in their lives, often experience these identity problem. If they find alcohol or drugs produce a great release from these tensions, they would do well not to use these chemicals at all. That is good evidence the danger of alcoholism is great.

      If you are a young person and already drink and wonder if you are headed toward chemical dependency, consider the advice of the oldest member of this particular group, now 21.

      “Ask yourself why you drink?” he advised. “If you don’t drink to have a good time, or because you like the taste, but because you feel tense and fearful and want to take away those feelings … if you drink in order to function at parties, you better leave it alone entirely. You’re in trouble already.”

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