Creation gave us instincts for a purpose. Without them we wouldn’t be complete human beings. If men and women didn’t exert themselves to be secure in their persons, made no effort to harvest food or construct shelter, there would be no survival. If they didn’t reproduce, the earth wouldn’t be populated. If there were no social instinct, if men cared nothing for the society of one another, there would be no society. So these desires–for the sex relation, for material and emotional security, and for companionship–are perfectly necessary and right, and sure God-given.
Yet these instincts, so necessary for our existence, often far exceed their proper functions. Powerfully, blindly, many times subtly, they drive us, dominate us, and insist upon ruling our lives. Our desires for sex, for material and emotional security, and for an important place in society often tyrannize us. When thus our of joint, man’s natural desires cause him great trouble, practically all the trouble there is. No human being, however good, is exempt from these troubles. Nearly every serious emotional problem can be seen as a case of misdirected instinct. When that happens, our great natural assets, the instincts, have turned into physical and mental liabilities.
I have always understood my insane drinking, my alcoholism, to be a misguided attempt to make myself happy. An insane attempt to make myself happy. One of my starkest memories from my drinking days was when an AA friend remarked, to my drunken self, “It doesn’t even make you happy.”
No, it didn’t. But is used to! And to it might again, if I could only get it right.
I know now that I was wanted and cared for and celebrated and protected as a child. But the world is a dangerous place, even for children born into circumstances like I was. My father died when I was six, and I’m sure it gave me a fear about losing my mother that most of the other children in my life didn’t have.
And there are other things. My point at this moment is that I saw the world as dangerous, and the world was dangerous, even though I had every advantage and after all I did come through all right. The fearfulness of that child, the normal misunderstandings of my child’s mind, and the dormant seed of alcoholism laid the ground work for my drinking nearly to death.
And isn’t aging, as I’ve been blessed beyond measure to experience, a creeping back toward that time when I may not be independent and I may not understand all that goes on around me?