Recovering from the committee in my head

Committee Featured

By Beth H.

We frequently hear talk in the rooms of AA about “the committee”, or the different thoughts and voices swirling around in our heads, often giving us conflicting messages or bad advice. In my sobriety, I have benefitted tremendously by taking the time to identify those voices. I had no clue who the real Beth was when I got sober; I thought all of those voices were me, or else why would they be in my head?

Will the real Beth please stand up?

What follows is a list of voices in my head that are not the real me, and that have far less power over me than they did prior to being recognized, named, and distinguished from my own true voice.

The Disease

The first voice I learned to identify, which is crucial to staying sober, is the one I call The Disease. Rational Recovery calls this voice The Beast. It is the voice of addiction, the part of alcoholism that is cunning, baffling, and powerful. It told me I would never be able to eat pizza or Mexican food again if I got sober. It told me, during one particularly difficult emotional time during my sobriety when I coped by overeating, “You’re not in recovery. You just switched addictions. You might as well drink.” Thank goodness for my friends in the program who assured me that was false; I wouldn’t have my kids taken away for being overweight; I wouldn’t get arrested or kill anyone because of driving while fat; etc.

In labeling this voice I am able to recognize that I don’t want a drink; the Beast woke up and wants a drink. The Disease cares about its own survival, not my survival. This voice tries to employ many psychological tricks on me. Here are some of them:

Deny. “You’re not really an alcoholic. It’s not in your family. Your three siblings who were once in recovery have all been back to drinking for years now, and they don’t seem to be getting any worse.” It clearly IS in my family if it has affected four of the kids. The Disease is trying to tell me I’m not an alcoholic because I may not have a genetic predisposition. It ignores the childhood trauma, abuse, and neglect that is another source of alcoholism. I don’t know if my siblings are getting worse because I don’t live inside their heads. I know they are not being arrested or hospitalized, but they may well be living with shame, guilt, and incomprehensible demoralization. Does that really sound like a better choice for me?

“Nothing bad will happen if I just have one or two drinks.” Yes it will. It may not happen that night, but it will absolutely fan the flame of alcoholism lurking in my body and I will be off and running. I know from relapsing on cigarettes exactly how it happens. I have one; nothing bad happens so a couple days later I have another; I have two because I think I’m still in control; then two a day, ok three; ok, now I owe so many people cigarettes that I have to buy a pack to repay them; I better buy two packs because I can’t repay somebody and immediately bum it back (for alcohol, the Disease would say it’s more economical to buy larger quantities); and now I’m smoking a pack a day and it took four weeks to get there. The absolute worst thing that could happen to me is to have one or two drinks and believe I got away with it. Or I could lose control with the first drink. Neither outcome is good.

Minimize. “Your drinking wasn’t really that bad. Not as bad as these other people’s. You don’t need to be here at a meeting.” It was bad enough to get me here. I couldn’t control it. I know in my heart of hearts that I cannot stay sober by myself, because I tried. I absolutely do need to be in a meeting. This is my own truth; that other voice is The Disease trying to get me drunk.

Rationalize. “Other people are drinking with impunity. Everybody does it. So can you.” These are all lies. Some people may drink with impunity, but I now know a whole lot of people for whom that is not the case. Everybody doesn’t drink, and many people who drink have adverse consequences. I have already proven that I belong to the group who cannot drink safely. The Disease wants me to ignore the truth and buy into its lies and get drunk.

 “This book that is telling me things I don’t want to hear has bad grammar and punctuation errors. I don’t have to take advice from somebody who can’t get those things right.” The Disease is afraid that its power over me may be lessened if I actually hear the message. All the more reason I need to hear it.

Justify. “You deserve to have a drink today because (fill in the blank).” Absolutely false. Nothing going on either outside of me or inside of me will be made better by drinking. My true self knows this. The Disease tries to convince me otherwise because it is fighting for its own survival, not mine.

Intellectualize. “Well, you know, the disease concept is highly debatable, and there’s no reason you should be locked into it when it may not even be true.” I don’t need definitive scientific evidence that I have a problem with alcohol that I can’t control by myself. I have lots of empirical evidence. Let the debate continue; there are lots of things we don’t know for sure, but I for sure know my own experience.

These thoughts follow regular patterns similar to the examples I gave, and it gets easier to identify them with practice. Once I realize that I am minimizing (key words – “not that bad”), justifying (key words – “I deserve because…”), etc., the second step is to say, “Who or what is being served by this trick?” Any voice that is leading me toward the first drink is The Disease. Whiskey is OK if I mix it with milk? (Denial – whiskey is alcohol, no matter what I mix it with.) That is not me talking. That is The Disease trying to take control of my mind. Don’t listen to it. It is liar. Don’t trust a thing it says.

The Critical Parent or the Voice of Shame

I have been plagued with this voice since long before I started drinking. In fact, I used alcohol to try to silence it. In sobriety I needed to find another way to make it go away. This voice says things to me like: “There’s no excuse for you. How do you justify your existence?” (Clearly my mother, almost a direct quote.) “No man will ever be attracted to you.” “No matter what you do, it is not good enough.” (Thanks Dad.) “No matter what you are, it is not enough.” “You came in second; what a waste!” “You’re lazy, selfish, and irresponsible.” “I don’t deserve to be taking up space or using up oxygen.” “The world (or your children) would be better off without you.” (The last two are depression and shame uniting forces).

Although I still find it hard to believe at times, I do not actually have to justify my existence. Like it says in Desiderata, “You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars. You have a right to be here.” “There is no excuse for you” is Mom talking, not me. Mom said it not because it was true, but because she was broken. Dad’s advice wasn’t good advice; he’s not happy today and I don’t want what he has. Even if never being “good enough” may have worked for him, it worked against me. Telling myself how terrible I am is not a good motivator for me. I respond better to support and encouragement. Fortunately I have the opportunity to listen to many other people’s ways of doing things today, and I can choose what works for me.

I heard these things a thousand times growing up, and because they were mixed in with other messages such as “brush your teeth” and “look before you cross the street”, as a child I took them all to be true. I’m an adult now, and I can sort out these messages and choose which ones I am going to hang on to and which ones I am going to toss.

When I catch myself berating myself, I stop and say, “Who is speaking, and is what they are saying true?” I run it past my sponsor or a friend. Am I really being “lazy, selfish, or irresponsible”? There are times when I may be, but not all of them all the time. These are all lies that I do not have to listen to any more. Coming in second place is good.

 I ask myself, “What would I say to a friend who’s in my situation?” My best self would say something compassionate and empathetic. That’s the real me. I can’t think of a single other person on earth to whom I would say, “You are such a loser.” It’s highly offensive. The voice that is telling me what a screw-up I am is not me; it’s mom or dad or some other negative message that I took in as a child, but I can choose not to listen to it today. I took enough emotional beatings back then. Today I have the choice to disregard rather than continue the bludgeoning. Mom and dad may not have known better, or been able to do better; it’s not about blame. I tell that voice, “Your opinion is noted, but I also note that your opinion comes from your own deep places of pain and dysfunction. It reveals a lot about you but not much about me.”

Shame also likes to participate in the interpretation of events. It is very self-centered. It says, “Whatever went wrong, it’s your fault. You should have done more.” “Everyone in this room is staring at you because – bad hair day, clothes don’t match perfectly, gained two pounds, any visible flaw.” Really, as if people don’t have more important or interesting things to think about! “No one in this room likes you.” The way I’ve gotten past these thoughts is to actually check them out with trusted people, especially at my women’s meeting. They assure me that they like me and that I’m being ridiculous, but not to worry, they do the same thing.

I love this fellowship! Where else would I find a safe environment to actually run these crazy thoughts past people to learn that they are in fact crazy thoughts? I’ve also tried experiments. “The people in this aerobics class are snubbing you because you’re unattractive.” No, they are reacting to my hang-dog expression and failure to make eye contact that tells them to keep away. One day I just went in smiling and said hello to people, and by golly, they were friendly.

The Ego

When I refer to the ego, I’m talking about the voice that wants to be heard above all others, because it is RIGHT. This voice tends to shout, and goad and prod me to open my mouth when I probably shouldn’t. It says, “These people don’t know what they’re talking about. You need to set everybody straight.” It’s the flip side of the voice of shame. It is as driven as the shame voice is passive. In sobriety I have learned to find MY truth; not everyone else’s. My truth can be spoken quietly. The more insistent this voice becomes about being heard, the more I need to remain silent and talk to a sponsor or friend. Maybe I’ll write the email, but not send it until I review it again tomorrow.

The Ego also pipes up when it feels I need defending. It invents bad things about other people, or explanations for their behavior or motives, that make me look good in comparison. I sometimes feel overwhelmed by my career and get scared. Then the Ego says, “Your co-workers don’t work as hard as you. They’re not as dedicated as you.” “I can’t believe they didn’t know that!” “They are so lame!” When this starts happening, I ask myself, what about me feels threatened, that the Ego would feel the need to intervene. Better to identify the threat, determine if it’s real or imagined, and deal with that. In the meantime, don’t talk. The Ego quiets down when I’m at peace with myself.

The Generalized Other

“What will people say if I _____?” “If you do that, everyone will think _____ about you.” “What if someone comes to the door and sees my house isn’t perfect?” “How does it look to society when I don’t fulfill the roles it has defined for me?” This last one frequently pops up in the form of “I’m a bad – wife, mother, employee, etc.” These questions are all based on the false assumption that there exists a unified “people” or “everybody” or “society or “someone”. When one of these anonymous voices starts telling me how to behave, I have to call it out. Name one single person that will actually think that. (I usually can’t.) These voices tell me that I’m failing to live up to certain standards. But, are they my standards? Do I care more about someone who might come to the door than the people who are actually in my home? Is wife or mother a rigid concept or a human being? It took many years in recovery, maybe 20, before I actually had enough self-esteem to say, “This is what I think. This is my standard. I’m not here to live up to anybody else’s, least of all these people who do not exist.”

Depression

I apparently had been self-medicating an undiagnosed depression with alcohol. At two years sober I was so miserable, I thought, “If this is what I feel like when I’m sober, then no wonder I drank!” Fortunately I got outside help, but the depressive thoughts still come and go at times. Depression says, “Don’t bother. There’s no hope. It’s not worth the effort. Things will never get better.” I’ve had two really serious bouts in sobriety that lasted about two years each time. I was able to get through the second because of what I learned from the first one. When I start hearing this voice in my head, now I can say, “That’s the depression talking. That’s not reality. That’s the way things look when you’re depressed. Be patient. It will get better.” I don’t buy into the hopelessness; I just wait it out and get help if needed. I can’t think myself out of depression, but I can ride it out much better. This sentence, “That’s the depression talking; it’s not reality,” has saved my life.

Learning to identify the different voices in my head, and understand what their game is, has given me a new-found serenity. I’ve made friends with them.

Oh, Disease, are you back again? Okay, do what you gotta do; meanwhile I’ll just go about my business. Hello, Ego. My, you certainly are sure of yourself. I know you’re trying to help me, but it’s okay, I’ve got this. My old buddy Shame – I’d scarcely know myself without you. You may think you’re protecting me by beating everyone to the punch – no one can think less of me than I think of myself, so no one else’s opinion can hurt me – but you are built on lies and hurt me much more than you have ever helped me. I can take it from here.

I have been sober for 30 years and still attend four meetings a week. If not for AA, I would never have heard the term “the committee”; I would not have learned how to handle it; I would not have developed the habit of self-reflection; and I would not have had a safe learning environment, where I could reveal what’s going on inside of me and also hear many other ways of handling things besides my way.

When I’m in a meeting, I reflect on my thoughts and behavior as they relate to the topic. I learn to live my life consciously, instead of on auto-pilot or just reacting to things. Without this self-reflection, I would never have found my real sense of self.

I love that we come in all admitting that we’re flawed from the get-go. There’s no pretense. I can share my crazy thoughts out loud and get a reality check. At first I had to shout down these voices in my head, but over time they have lost their power through this practice of naming them and recognizing their lies. A lie only has power if it is believed. Thanks to AA, my head is now a much more peaceful place than I could ever have imagined.


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Recovering from the committee in my head — 22 Comments

  1. Thank You Beth for the wonderful essay. Your thoughts on the “voices” are very similar to mine. One of the first clear steps I made on my own in recovery was the identification of the Addictive (Suicide) Voice. I think this is the much maligned “self will” the BB slags at every opportunity. It is not my self will, It IS exactly what is wrong with me. It is my personal dysfunction and the bodyguard of lies that enables me to continue an absolutely untenable and idiotic plan of self destruction. I have to strengthen
    my true self will in order to counter the addiction. Addiction is smart, smooth and skillful and used to getting his way. My initial true self is weak, frightened and unhappy but mostly ignorant. One has to get stronger than the others but they are all me.

  2. Thank you Beth, this is the kind of wisdom and Practical Knowledge that we should be reading and re-reading at meetings, instead of trying to glean something useful from the same rudimentary texts and their magical thinking at meeting after meeting. I hope it will be included in the Practical Book. I offered my cartoon Character, Alkie, Alkie Cravens,who is the personification of my alcoholic thinking. I visualize him on my shoulder, whispering these thoughts and rationalizations, recognize it, confront him and flick him off. Someone said in a meeting recently that she hates herself after a relapse. Separating our fundamental selves from the alcoholic thinking can keep us from that loop of self hatred that feeds depression and just plays into Alkie Cravens manipulations. You said it much more thoroughly and professionally. I wish all newcomers and relapsers could read it, and I will pass it on. Thank you.

  3. Beautiful! Beth H., thank you for sharing! Today we read from this as fodder for a really wonderful AA Freethinker Skype meeting. Great sharing can so often really open the gates for others to share deeply as well.

    I love that you quoted from Desiderata… one of my favourite lines from maybe my favourite poem.

    A bit morose of me, perhaps, but I still carry in my wallet a copy of Desiderate which I “inherited” a couple years before I got sober, from someone who had once been in AA but ultimately committed suicide. The other card I kept of his had an inscription about asking Jesus how much he loves me and Jesus spreading his arms wide saying “I love you this much” and then dying on the cross (the image of which was depicted on the other side of the card). One of my more maudlin clowns in my “clown car of a committee” can not stop laughing at that absurdity.

    For me life is a real tragi-drama-comedy and I would so prefer to laugh (while I can). Admittedly one of the things I “miss” about my drinking daze was putting on the sad music and wallowing in my tears. There are some rather ugly voices on the committee. AA’s greatest gift to me has been the occasional ability to drown them out with peels of laughter. More than whistling through the graveyard, I very much appreciate the soulful connections I find with my fellow travellers. There is a diligence to sobriety that I am not always keen for, but there is great joy here, too.

  4. Great article Beth! You have a clear idea of your program and how it work’s for you. Insights of who you are and the struggles you have overcome to become that person is easy to identify with, and you have given me some things to think about. If AA works because of identification at depth that you have dome very well. Thank you.

  5. I love this bit:

    Learning to identify the different voices in my head, and understand what their game is, has given me a new-found serenity. I’ve made friends with them.

    If it’s our committee I guess we are chairing the meeting. I once thought that if I got good enough, the negative voices would vanish. In my case they haven’t gone. They still feel a need to be heard. I amuse them today and say, “Thanks for sharing; does anyone else have something to add?” It is said that those who need love the most deserve it the least so the least I can do is let them know that they are all being heard.

    As is so often the case, a great essay and thought provoking discussion.

  6. Beth, thanks for this. I can relate to practically all of it, was quite blown away by it, frankly, didn’t know what to say at first.

    First of all, we, those of us who are not type A personalities, the big shots, were not all that well served by many aspects of AA. AA is for those big shots. That is why we have to do so many submissive things in AA, surrender, moral inventory, amends, all those defects of our character that we subjected other people to on our way to the pinnacle of power.

    What?

    Not me.

    I was beaten down at an early age by all the things you list in this excellent article. My problem was not too much ego, but that all ego had been beaten out of me.

    In AA I learned to get past most of all that – in some ways in spite of official AA, rather than because of it, precisely because it was made for the type A personalities, not for me. However, since AA grew, there have been many people coming into AA that are like me, I get to hear my own story often, and it is not the same as the big shots’ stories. So we need to expand our program somehow to cover all those of us of the “other” kind. There’s a big job to work on. I think if somehow it had really been part of AA I wouldn’t have had to spend 20 year on becoming a person not primarily run by my committee.

    We could be much more effective.

    All aside from all the religious stuff of course. I wasn’t seriously abused religiously, but plenty bad all the same.

    Though some of my parents’ stuff I internalized, some I rebelled against. In both cases I put energy into living extremes that were not simply me.

    My dad is dead now. Since then my mom and I have actually become friends. But the “Generalized other” has been a spectre hovering over our family most of my life.

    Let me end with a little story – this happened when I was about 55 years old, well into adulthood, one might suppose. My parents lived in Denmark, and I would visit them about once every 3 years, for about 3 weeks.

    So one day, I had been there perhaps a week, my parents went after me:

    We didn’t sleep last night.

    Finally about 4 am your dad said to me – if you die first, do you want me to wait until after the funeral before I tell him?

    [pause]

    We cannot – WE CANNOT handle this. Yesterday afternoon when your dad took you to the bank, he was SO embarrassed that your overalls were not hemmed up. If you are going to keep visiting us, you HAVE to have some decent clothes on. What are people thinking?

    Well, add to this I am their only child. They spent their whole life more concerned by what other people think than about who they were, and what they wanted, or for that matter who I was and what I might have wanted. And kept imposing it on me until my dad died. I visited about 4 months later. The first week me and my mom fought. Real honest to god arguments for the first time ever. Then my daughter visited, and we had halftime. The last week I told her about boundaries, stuff like that, and she heard me, for the first time she heard me.

    We talk honestly now, for the most part.

    But this is the kind of insanity that many of us grow up with. My parents weren’t alcoholics, but they probably ought to have been, they were plenty insane as it is, but what other people would have thought kept them on the straight and narrow.

    Just one of the things I had to process, and still do.

    Drinking allowed me to cut loose from it all. I typically had a 20 minute window of opportunity – after that I drank for oblivion.

    I still often go to several meetings a week, even though I to a large degree just feel antagonized by the god stuff, and other faults that I now find with the program, and I realize that with professional help I could perhaps have gotten over much of my messed up childhood sooner, but there was never money for that. AA I could go to as much as I wanted. The yield was lower, but it was, after all, fairly consistent. We are bound to get better after 20-30 years of this, if we can hang with it.

    Thanks again.

    • Thanks, life-j. Your story reminded me of a dear friend in the program who was able to take ownership of her part in the voice of The Other. She once told her husband, “I don’t have enough self-esteem for you to go out dressed like that.” I sure do love us!

  7. Thanks for your superb essay Beth I enjoyed it immensely.

    Reading and identifying with virtually every aspect of your piece I’m enthused that this will be part of the practical book that will assist many with “committee problems” by better understanding what is taking place in their heads and dealing with it in an effective manner.

    Thank you again; you have a wonderful talent for expressing yourself.

  8. For many new to sobriety, we fear the future event that causes us enough pain that we relapse. Truth is, we are carrying it around already.

    Understanding from a compassionate expert like Dr. Gabor Mate that most addictions start in childhood and that we self-medicate those pains, depressions and anxieties has led me to examine the origins of my condition and let go of the shame.

    I can also view doing the healthy things that make me happy as ‘treatment’ and knowledge gained on sites like this as mental medicine, instead of egotistical navel-gazing.

    Just like not every chemical prescription anti-depressive fits every patient, not every philosophy fits every alcoholic. It is our responsibility to find what works.

    Thank you author.

  9. Thanks, Beth. You have defined the committee so clearly. I might include Christianity in the description of the critical parent. Any thoughts?

    • I guess it depends on what type of Christianity you were raised with. I’ve heard others share that they were convinced they were going to hell by age 5, but that wasn’t my experience. Different people can have different voices. Some people have the voice of anxiety that keeps saying what if this or what if that and it’s going to be awful. I fortunately don’t have that one. I just wrote about my own, not intended to be universal.

  10. Thank you Beth for a well written piece. I picked up “The Tao Of Sobriety” early on. These days the whole committee knows that Metta’s in charge and they’ve come around remarkably well.

  11. Shame is calling yourself an alcoholic. You are what you call yourself. AA is counter to everything we understand in psychology. It continues the shame game. It is an archaic institution.

    • Bingo, well said Sue! Several longitudinal studies have demonstrated that AA works for about 5-6% of folks with alcohol use-disorder and that’s the same effectiveness in these studies of a one time counseling session.

      • The figure is actually a 50% success rate at the end of the first year of continuous sobriety and jumps to 90 upon completion of 5 years of back to back sobriety.

    • It may be archaic but last night at my home group a young man of 21 received a one year medallion. His family was there and their smiles and tears showed their hope. About ten people received desire chips and nine men and women received 30 day chips. Will they stay sober? Who knows? It’s up to them, it’s their choice whether they want sobriety or not. All I know is they left with a terrific message of hope. Cheers Daniel.

  12. What an excellent essay. I read it twice – which I rarely do. This, AA Agnostica, is an excellent venue but the piece deserves wider readership. Have you considered sending it to The Practical Book or The Grapevine?

    I believe that most, or maybe all, of us in recovery recognize those voices, those selves. We had and have dialogues with those voices even today. What your article does so well is to expose those voices for what the aren’t. They aren’t me. They aren’t in control of me. I know them when they speak for who they are. They are oh so familiar to me that I don’t have a memory of when and why and how they entered into my mind. That fact alone makes me think that they are me. Always have been. They integrated with my true self and I, like you, had professional help to identify who they were and how and when they controlled me.

    They are the Big Lie. And The Beast is an excellent name for them. As flawed as I am today, this is actually the new, improved version of me.

    Thank you, Beth.

  13. I do thank you for organizing and presenting the psychological pathology of addiction. It took me close to 30 years of coming in and out, often with long bouts of sobriety mixed in, before I recognized that:

    1. I was seeking to silence the critical voice of authority that had taken up residence as far back as I could remember.
    2. I was no longer using alcohol and other drugs to help me socialize better. There was an existential paradox compelling me to behaviours I knew didn’t hold the answer I was seeking.
    3. I too was plagued by severe anxiety with panic and depression. And that alcohol was a medicine that allowed me to cope for a time.

    Without going through your entire essay, which I again applaud, I’m largely on the same page as you. Where we diverge is AA.
    For instance AA mimicked that voice of authority that I was trying so desperately to escape. It required that I “admit” – criminals admit to things – I was powerless and that my life was wildly out of control.

    It suggested that I was “defective” rather than “afflicted” and I had to identify and address those defects, not with a diagnosis from a qualified professional rather by “admitting”, again, those defects that were ostensibly identified in a 4th step. That admission was before a God I didn’t believe in and typically another member of AA.

    While I think the process suggested in those two steps can be helpful, the process needs to take place with the guidance of a qualified clinician. What good is a searching and fearless moral inventory if I, the defective, is the one who needs to comprehend what’s being asked of me, then decided upon by me what should make it to the list. The truth of a 4th step is I, like countless people with no addiction issues, can think of myriad resentments etc. over the course of my life most of which were not monumental. I’m certain we all have several resentments every day of the week and we forget them as quickly as they come. It’s the obsessive resentment that justifies detailed examination. But not by me. This again is where a psychiatrist who has dedicated her/his practice to treating addicts, should become part of the recovery equation.

    As much as we speak of honesty few of us know the truth. And we are particularly sketchy on our own truths. So for us to basically decide which issues are the most threatening to our peace of mind and overall behaviour it only makes sense to expose those thoughts and behaviours to a person who is qualified to diagnose the meaning or actual disorder they indicate. And I would say very few of those people reside in AA.

    Truth is, the BB strongly recommends we do this step with a professional, yet over the years most 5th steps are done with one’s sponsor. I remember reading my 4th step to my nominal sponsor at the time and, he would simply say “gone” in response to each item on my list. It was ridiculous.

    I believe in the fellowship of AA. The biggest benefit I’ve gotten from going to meetings is discovering there were people who related to my particular story. Often those people became friends and some of my very best friends are in AA.
    But I’ve too many times seen myself and others, staying sober, actually get worse over time rather than better. Now, approaching six years clean and sober I credit the bulk of my sobriety to the doctors who have been there to help me with the mental/emotional disorders I’ve been suffering with since I was a child. Though AA is still a central component of my strategy for remaining abstinent, it has little therapeutic value in relation to the overt therapies I engage in with qualified professionals.

    But back to the voices you so expertly identified. The loudest one today is my own. And as part of that same strategy I just alluded to, I allow that voice to be heard. The only qualifications on it are:

    1. Try not to speak in a fit of pique.
    2. Try not to make anything I say be personal to somebody else.
    3. I present it as something meant to be shared rather than self aggrandizing or to distinguish myself from the rest of the group.

    Though not always successful I am relieved to largely be dealing with my own thoughts today rather than getting too entangled in repeating somebody else’s thoughts and feelings.

    Thank you again for an exceedingly well written piece that makes sense of the nonsense going on in our heads when using or in early sobriety.

  14. Thanks for a lovely article, Beth – I too sometimes battle strenuously with “the itty-bitty committee” between my ears.

    One of Freud’s disciples, the Italian psychoanalyst Roberto Assagioli, termed these voices sub-personalities and developed a process of psychotherapy called Psychosynthesis as a means of integrating these different voices/sub-personalities into a True Self. Reading him during my first decade of recovery in the 1970s helped me immensely.

    To a large degree – not perfectly, but with considerable progress – being involved in longterm recovery in the Fellowship of AA has helped me immensely to integrate the voices/sub-personalities within me in to a somewhat reasonable and livable with True Self as you describe in this delightful essay.