I'm assuming that this is what St. John of the Cross meant when he called it the dark night of the soul. It is just after midnight on now Friday morning, August 6th, 2010. The Dodgers lost another game in the standings, falling 8 games behind the shocking Padres in the NL West, and I have to take it. I have to take all of it. Not just the obvious season down the drain for the azul, but take the entirety of a world that I no longer recognize, a world without the reassurance of that first hit of....fill in the blank. Twenty two months and counting towards my second AA birthday. Eleven years of Slaabriety. Four weeks of ACA catatonia. Oh, and 8 full years of intensive psychotherapy. What do I get for my troubles? More cat poo than I can ever remember. No, I mean it, literally. My three wonderful felines have taken on a new hobby, their evening bombardments that remind one of Dresden. The collateral damage is extensive. Hey, we're all in this apartment together. Me, my babies, and Johnny Cat.
In his historic treatise on living a higher life, the late Dr. M. Scott Peck talks about the delaying of gratification being the signature behavior of the fully loved. Alternately, he speaks of the "problem children", or those who lack the ability to delay gratification, as those who were not given this irreplaceable force in early childhood. I recently watched a video on Youtube called the marshmallow test, in which a woman takes kids into a private room with a two way mirror and gives them a marshmallow, both individually and in pairs. As she offers the little treat to the children, she tells them that there is another one waiting for them if they resist the temptation to devour the first one when she leaves for five minutes. The resultant reactions are amazing, from the little boy who presses the marshmallow against his lips but refuses to open his mouth, or the twins boys who contort their faces and clench their jaws in paroxysms of craving, to the sweet little girl who instantly devours the sugary confection within seconds of the moderator leaving the room. The majority of the boys and girls do, in fact, decide to get the two for one deal by holding out for that interminable five minutes. The one little girl who doesn't, or I will use the word "can't", is the one who I would like to focus on, for she is me, without a Higher Power.
Of all the images of my early childhood, and there are many that I still remember in technicolor, the one that comes back to me at this moment in time, is hiding a single chips ahoy cookie from my mother under the refrigerator at our home in Granada Hills when I was six years old. Our dog, Valentine, was playing with me at the table. My mom took her outside leaving me alone. I crawled up on a chair to grab the bag of cookies off the top of the refrigerator. I ate a few right there, and took another one down with me, but my mom was coming back in. I had no idea where to hide it. I knew that if she saw me with the cookie, I would get severely punished, for reasons I still don't understand to this day. I quickly threw the cookie underneath the refrigerator, where she never found it. I don't think I retrieved it, but I think it was my first "secret" sickness. The thing I remember most vividly is not the cookie, mind you, but the terror at being caught. This terror has been the driving force of my life.
(to be continued)