It’s almost like role-playing and really comes in handy when we alcoholics and addicts are having less than stellar days, or are faced with challenges that we might not otherwise be up to at any particular moment.
Do you remember how much fun you had playing dress up? What about Halloween?
Who says you cannot pretend as an adult, particularly if it is a catalyst for you to develop the necessary initiative to take action toward accomplishing goals in your life, standing up to alcoholism, or for that matter setting boundaries.
More often than not, I am a timid, sensitive, more docile, even a passive person. Many of these characteristics can be liabilities in my chosen career, not to mention in the “dog eat dog world” of life we live in.
Notwithstanding that, I have learned to develop the characteristics of people I admire, often by emulating these individuals, or simply “acting as if”, until these characteristics become a part of me….until they become second nature.
In fact, I am an amalgamation, or even a mirage of people, and I am better as a result.
For instance, I have always admired the no-nonsense negotiation and diplomatic skills of Hilary Clinton….how she so capably, even effortlessly exist in the male-dominated world of politics and foreign diplomacy. The woman is a force of nature.
As a result, when I am in a business meeting or dealing with individuals who might not otherwise respect me, I turn off the shyness, docile, passive man-child, and I turn on the shrewd, discerning, brilliance of Hilary Clinton, as I perceive her. It works every time.
Consequently, I feel calm, self-assured, and as if I fit in.
An alter-Ego is far better than a drink of alcohol or consuming a drug to manage the stress.
Other times, when I am facing what feels insurmountable, overwhelming, or frustrating, I question why I am clean and sober, and at that very moment, I often imagine the following dialogue between Elizabeth Taylor’s Maggie and Paul Newman’s Brick, from Cat On A Hot Tin Roof -
Maggie: You know what I feel like? I feel all the time like a cat on a hot tin roof.
Brick: Then jump off the roof, Maggie. Jump off it.
……….what is the victory of a cat on a hot tin roof?
Maggie: Just staying on it I guess, long as she can.
Maggie the Cat is alive. I’m alive.
That is some of the most startling beautiful, not to mention metaphorical writing I have read or watched performed on screen.
In any regard, as an Addict/Alcoholic, I am not sure about you, but I often feel like I am a cat on a hot tin roof…life feels that way, as I navigate through the pressures, demands, and even joys of life, without the aid of something like prescription pills and alcohol.
Similar to Brick saying to Maggie, to just jump off, the alcoholic voice in my head tells me to just jump off, i.e., ….take Ativan or “try heroin”, and jump back in to the abyss of addiction, where you won’t feel anything! And that voice goes on to inquire……besides, what is the point of staying clean and sober, i.e,…..what is the victory of a cat on a hot tin roof?!
Nevertheless, I reply, similar to Maggie the cat, “just staying on I guess, long as I can.”
That is actually how I feel. I feel like the victory of sobriety is just staying clean and sober, as long as I can!
I feel good clean and sober, even when I have to deal with a difficult phone call, or the nervousness of having dinner with a new friend, or tentatively, even reluctantly embracing the transition into a new career, together, with all the uncertainty.
Besides, being sober and feeling emotions means, rather than blocking the pain, and dulling the senses, makes me feel like I am alive, just like Maggie the cat.
I am alive when I am clean and sober! And, if I want to continue living I have to stay clean and sober.
Some other popular alter-egos are: Katniss Everdeen [Hunger Games], Scarlett O’Hara [Gone With the Wind], U.S. Presidents or military officers, Angelina Jolie, Clint Eastwood, Michael Jordan, even Bill Wilson, among other celebrities and public officials.
What are some people or characters that you admire, who would be good choices for alter-egos?
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