MOST people, at least the ones who are paying any sort of attention, spend most of their adult lives recovering from the denial and pure shock of realizing they are experiencing the “human condition.” I often ruminate on the idea of being a spiritual being having a human experience. To me it feels like being a fish out of water, something unnatural and yet something we must all go through. Most addicts start out not feeling quite right in their own skin to begin with. I remember one of my first times through treatment and afterward how proud I was of my “accomplishment” (you would have thought I “graduated” with honors or something) and how strong I felt – like a grown up, Big Girl pants and all! And I wanted to make sure everyone knew about it. I had arrived. Shortly after my return to the real world, I happened to be chatting with a friend of my mother’s on the phone – an old mint julep herself. I told her how I was just getting up each day and trying to do the best I could, putting one foot in front of the other, one day at a timing it. God did I feel like such an a**hole when she responded in her charming southern drawl, disarming enough make you feel like you're getting a pedicure while she’s chopping your toes off. “Darlin,” she started in a whisper, “that’s just what the rest of the world is doin’ – u ain’t doin’ nothing special.” I felt like a grape that had been peeled and boiled. Stripped, mortified, burned to the ground. I was a speck of dust on her diamond studded heel, transmogrified with shame and embarrassment. Did she mean to do that?
Right before before treatment, before I hit that bottom cold, hard, lonely bottom,…when I came to the realization that I could no longer go on to handle everything all by myself wrapped in an insulating layer of chemical reinforcement, the walls crumbled in like those of an ancient castle bombarded with modern artillery. This Humpty Dumpty required a team of specialists in a California Drug Rehab to put me back together this time and truthfully I think the jury’s still out of whether or not the transplant is being accepted…or not and I don’t know if I’ll ever feel whole again. I tried so hard to let everybody see that I had made a stunning return from my very own specially branded depths of hell. I had it together now and I was doing just fine. I was going to make sure they validated that for me as if it was something no one had ever done before. And so – for the Grace of God go I – swinging through the branches of the recovery community like a squirrel monkey on a taurine infused energy drink. “Screeeeetch!! Look at my recovery – isn’t it swell?” Believe me, there is nothing close to Grace anywhere near my recovery today. But it’s something to shoot for.
Today, my aim is simple; to share my story, my adventures in sobriety, and all the tumbleweeds I've picked up along the way in hopes that it resonates with at least one person and makes a difference to them. It’s not about me today. Folks in recovery are some of the coolest, most creative people I know – ambitious, tenacious, dedicated – and none of us know it – at first. We are also some of the most resourceful, determined, positive and persevering creatures known to man. Did I mention sensitive? Addicts and alcoholics can present like a straight up Goodfella – break your kneecaps in a haaatbeat gangsters but tell them they’re a loser because they talk funny, and you’ll find yourself standing in a puddle of tears with them. Pat pat on the back – “It’ll be ok kid. It gets better.” Addicts and alcoholics sort of carry the weight of the world on their shoulders – they’re sensitive to a fault, they care deeply, so much that it hurts but strangely, astonishingly, when they succumb to drugs and alcohol they are self centered, self serving, and selfish to the core. They become lying, cheating, stealing, tornadoes of destruction in the lives of the people around them. The transformation-is-real and even more profound when they come back out the other side.
See that, even stone-cold-sober a few months and I’m still just yapping away about myself. Hahaha! Well, it’s all in hopes that YOU the reader identifies with something I say and that you say, ”Wow I didn’t think anybody else felt like that. “ And then maybe you’ll feel hopeful enough about tomorrow to not use today or maybe what I said made you laugh and you find that sobriety can be fun and funny and then you decide that you didn’t really want to pick up that drink today afterall. That’s the whole deal for me. That maybe I’ll make a difference. Then I won't feel so shitty about myself and I’ll feel like have a purpose and then I won't feel like using later either. See how this works?
By no means am I a Big Book Thumper (meaning someone who lives and breaths by the Alcoholics Anonymous literature in a “by the book” fashion), however being immersed in 12 step programs through the various treatments I went through, bits and pieces stuck along the way. One thing I remember is that there’s this crucial moment – just a moment- between the point where you say, “Yeah, a drink (or whatever your choice of poison is) sounds real good.” and doing something that will get in between you and that poison. In the early pages of AA’s Big Book, Bill Wilson talks about glancing into a bar and then opting to make a phone call instead in an effort to reach out to another alcoholic and curtail his imminent demise. He succeeded and he didn’t drink that day. There’s something magical in that – there really is. One alcoholic reaching out to another helps THEM stay sober. If that’s not a miracle, you tell me what is.
As alcoholics, addicts or otherwise pan-addicted people, a lot of it boils down to getting as comfortable as possible in an uncomfortable life and making friends with our demons. We try to wear life loosely and realize that sometimes it’s easier to put on slippers than to try and carpet the world. Life goes on. Life becomes beautiful.