“I live among the creatures of the night” – lyrics, Laura Branigan
Our persisting personality traits are extreme and troubling for everyone. Most of all for us. We just can’t help it. Some think we should simply say “No.” Others assume that we are like vampires, with an acquired and irreversible affliction. The truth is – we are born this way. Although it may look like a choice, for us cravings appear irresistibly compulsive, like sliding on ice. Ours is a progressive, incurable, and ultimately fatal condition. We learn to live with it, but it can look hopeless, too.
We don’t care all that much for a regular life style. We are not ambitious that way. We don’t know how to fit in and we’re not sure that we want to be normal and functional. Sometimes we do. Outsiders of mainstream society from an early age, we’re limping behind, looking for crutches to make it.
We are the black sheep. Needing to relate, we gravitate to outsiders, underdogs, and misfits. We associate with lower companions and we are lower companions. Either way, we want some company to make it through the night and do what we do in pursuit of happiness. We like to be with people who are just like us, dancing on the precipice, oblivious of danger, forgetful of tomorrow, wild and ready for anything. The initiation into the tribe is as brutal as it is futile. In hindsight it is obvious – we have always belonged here. We have been different from an early age. These are “our people.” They also have the scars. Although neither a rock star costume nor a pledge of allegiance are required for lifelong membership, many of us readily adhere to what looks like a dress code, adding more tattoos and piercings over time. It feels good to belong. In isolation it’s bitter - all about shame & blame. In the recovery tribe we share our experience to benefit others who are feeling just like us, and we get to turn weakness into strength.
It can happen that outsiders try to act as though they are part of our subculture, but that doesn’t work, although it can be very funny, just like Woody Allen in his movie, Zelig, where he looks and acts like whoever is around, even when it’s someone from another ethnicity. It’s like being Jewish – it may look like a chosen religion, but we’re born like that. In a “Seinfeld” episode, a dentist converts to Judaism and tries to emulate Jewish mannerisms. It’s very comical. You just wonder why would anyone voluntarily be a Jew? It doesn’t make sense.
“You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave” – lyrics, The Eagles