A Complex Weave

April 12, 2009

We are each a complex weave of characteristics.

To me, the process of recovery is the process of removing or weakening the negative threads and strengthening the positive threads.

Visually, this is how I see our character make up.  Each thread a charaterstic of who we are and how we think.complex-weave-11


Somehow through our lives, we invariably end up weaving in some negative threads.  This is how I see it…


We may fundamentally be the same person with the same weave of traits, but to it we have added some negative weaves…. negative thinking and behaving patterns that we learned once, then practiced again and again until they became a part of who we were.  Woven into the “fabric of our being” as it were.

This to me is addiction.  This to me describes to many self-defeating behaviours.  They are so intricately woven into our being, that we can barely be aware of them being there because it feels like it becomes who we are.  Or if we are, we are too deep-in to know what to do.  Because the thinking and behaving that got us there is keeping us there.

Thousands of years ago, someone wrote that “The heart is wickedly deceitful and no man can know his own heart”.  In my experience, negative characteristics such as selfishness, self-pity, intolerance, unrealistic expectations, judgmentalism, greed, unhealthy ego, living in the past, living in the future, resenting, and many, many  more are these negative threads.

It is also my experience that with help of others, we can begin to know our own heart.  And we can begin to change these characteristics.  We can remove some of the negative threads, we can slowly weaken others, and we can strengthen the positive threads.  Visually, this is what I see the process of recovery to look like…


This is progress, not perfection.  Some negative threads we remove, some we weaken, and some positives we strengthen.  This has been the working of the 12 steps as I see it in my life and others. 

I have been blessed to have God as I understand him show me my heart.  He uses people in and out of my program.  Some of them are long passed away but they wrote their experiences in books and literature.  Others are bloggers, teachers, ministers, and trainers.   Some of them are people who have done me harm, but those experiences often reflect something back to me about myself that I can then learn from and improve.

The key is that I needed to be open and willing to listen and be guided.  Then to do some of the things that were suggested to me.  The DOING is the good part.  This is where the real work and recovery happen.  Listening and thinking are of some value, but DOING changes the threads and makes us into a different, more functioning, happier weave of characteristics.

Thats how I see it anyway.





  1. Another mind-bender of a post! If the red threads are negativity, you could certainly call me Little Red Riding Hood. Oh, and my threads are shaped in a noose.

    Please keep the food for thought coming!

  2. Yes, threads do serve as nooses if we let them.

    Thanksfully, painful circumstances lead us to look for negative (red) threads. If we are content in our life, we often don’t see the need for self-examination. And thereby undermine ourselves slowly and subtly throughout our life.

    Pain prompts us to look for our negative threads and sustained pain encourages us to do something about them.

    So what you went through and I went through in fact had some positive to them.

    A saying I often quote is … “A year of pain will teach us far more than a lifetime of comfort”. So good things are happening.



  3. hi chaz… like the pictures. i see evreything in my head as a visual (of course it’s way more complicated most of the time), so this is easy to understand. I do feel right now that the addiction is me — It’s hard to picrture it as a separate thing. But I am trying to change that thinking.

    maybe you can make a picture book of the big book so people like me can understand it (just kidding!).

    and it’s true that it’s the “doing” that matters .. i can bitch and complain and analyze and say this and that, but nothing’s gonna change until i actually do something about it. i guess right now my “doing” is going to meetings and trying to change the way i think, one little bit at a time.


  4. Chaz,

    This post really made me think about my brother. All our lives, I knew that he had something inside him that he hated about himself. In his teens, he experimented in drugs and he was very physically abusive to me. I was the 2nd child and 2 1/2 years younger than him. I then married an physically abusive man but got rid of him thank God…weird how I ended up there. Anyway, back to my brother. After he kicked the drug habit, he turned to alcohol. He just never seemed happy in his life. Never had any children, never got married — got close to marriage, but didn’t. The alcohol got in the way. But how you explained these complications really stood out to me. Made me think about him and how he probably saw his life as negative all the time. He committed suicide in 2000. We never got close in a brother/sister relationship due to his ways but I miss him dearly. Sometimes, I even wonder why I miss him, but my heart hurts for him.

    Anyway, great post! Stop by and read my step-father article on BFSO. I thought of you when writing it after I read your post about your step-kids. Have a great day!


  5. That is quite a story Di… sorry to hear of your loss and missing your brother. Our lives can truly be complex weaves of seemingly dissimilar things. The fact on one hand that you had little relationship with your borther yet miss him now that he is gone.

    I am sure it leaves you wondering what threads were woven through him that formed the characteristics that made his life challenging.

    Also interesting observation that you chose an abusinve man first time around. I hear of this kind of thing so much. Where women choose men who may have the same weaknesses as men they were familiar with in their family of origin… even if the characteristics were explicitly harmful. And of course same for men choosing women who have familiar characteristics to their families of origing, whether good or bad.

    Somehow we all seem drawn to familiarity.

    Will look for the post you mention.

    For any onlookers…. check out Di’s site at

    Lots of great dialogue for people with blended families.



  6. You’re right. Our choices in life almost always seem to reflect what is familiar to us. But, I do know that I have recovered from that. My current husband is so totally opposite. Took me a long time by myself to find what I truly needed and wanted. But, you know, as you say, if things were always non-complicated, we wouldn’t learn from anything. I put up a shield against my brother when we were younger, and his drug and alcohol problems made me stay away from him as an adult, however, I often look through our early early childhood photos, between ages of 3-10 and I remember good times which make me miss him and make me sad. HE was, I believe, entangled in something way too big for him to handle. His inner-self was gone a long time before his passing. As always, thanks for your insight. I love your blog!


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