I want hit you with some cold hard facts about addiction.
There are myths and legends abound about what an addict is composed of, what we do, how we think, how we feel, what we deserve and what we don’t deserve. With all due respect…until you have experienced the dark depths that is addiction, you don’t know shit. We are ALL human’s and the degree of our suffering varies from individual to individual.
I am a 5’1″, blonde haired, blue eyed girl with a sunny disposition. I smile at every stranger I make eye contact with and car karaoke to Britney Spears and Taylor Swift. I meditate and pray to reiki music and use the healing touch of reiki to help others. I like to cook and walk on the beach and collect seashells. I hike and revel in the beauty that is the pacific northwest. In all senses I come across as a very “normal” and peaceful person. Just because the vessel that is carrying out these day to day motions looks calm and collected does not mean the soul that resides in it is calm. Stevie Nicks says “Never have I been a calm blue sea, I have always been a storm”. I am both. On the outside I am a calm sea, on the inside I am a storm. Not always…but that darkness is in there.
Addiction is not prejudiced. It touches the religious, the atheist, the broken and downtrodden, and the CEO’s of major companies. It grips women and men, young and old. It suffocates gays, straights, every national origin and race. It kills the rich, the poor, the beautiful and the ugly.
You get the point…addiction runs rampant like a tornado picking up and destroying anything that happens to be in its path. Now let’s talk about the aftermath. You have finally come down, fallen on your face which we refer to as our rock bottom and realize you can’t go on like this. This is when we tentatively walk into our first meeting with our eyes on the ground. Uncomfortable with the warmth and hugs being passed around between these humans that seem so different from you, who are actually the same as you. Laughter and joy swirls around the room on the wings of the scent of percolating coffee and you wonder how these people are so happy when they don’t “get to” drink? This is what they get to look forward to? Sitting in a circle talking about the shit show they have made of their life? You sit silently your first few meetings still digging your heels in the ground. Reading the book letting it flow in one ear and out the other. Sometimes, a lot of the the time, we relapse. Rock bottom comes faster and harder this time. A month has gone by and you’ve been on a bender that has left you shaky in the hands, weak in the knees, sick to your stomach and ashamed. With heavy feet you walk back into that room and as if time hasn’t touched anything, they are all still there. Hugging, laughing, and sipping their coffee. Still happy, still not “getting to” drink…and then you realize…its because of their lack of drinking, its because of their supporting hugs, emotional outpouring, and acknowledgement that they are the ones smiling. A little bell goes off in your brain, you lift your heels out of the mud and you pick that book back up with a new drive to learn how to do this too. A week goes by and you are almost out of the woods with your withdrawals. The night sweats are gone, your mind is more clear and you are soaking up the message AA (or NA) has to offer and opening up your wounds to begin healing them from the inside out. You begin to have a subtle obsession with recovery rather than alcohol or drugs. All of a sudden free coffee and women’s meetings are you new liquor store. You feel euphoria walking into church rooms and hugging those women and men who not long ago felt like weird, foreign creatures. They are now your family. Your friends. Your life line.
All that sounds rosy and fantastic and like the happy ending of the story has come. The truth is the ending never comes for an addict. I do not desire to drink, but I crave the drink. I don’t want to be drunk, but I miss being drunk. To “normies” that makes no sense and is a total contradiction but I guarantee most addicts will understand….we know we cant drink and we really don’t want to, but yes we do. I know I can’t sit on my deck and watch the sunset with a glass of wine. It never ends that peacefully and it is not a moment of serenity. The first glass of wine turns into two bottles and a hellacious mental ordeal. At one of my women’s meetings we read a story in the big book and this line from it knocked the wind out of me with its truth “that special relationship with alcohol will always be there, waiting to seduce me again. I can stay protected by continuing to be an active member of AA”. So you see, the work of the 12 steps never ends. The choice to stay sober is a DAILY choice. We do recover but it is an everyday effort. You cannot give us a pill and we are magically cured. Actually, if there were a pill we would probably become addicted to that.
When we speak about recovery we speak with gratitude, joy, and appreciation. We rarely talk about the parts we all know to be true though. We feel anger, stress, desire to give up, we scream into our pillow “why am I like this”, and we sit in the midst of emotions we have suppressed with booze or pills that are now crashing over us like waves that want to take our life. But this recovery thing is a journey….the ending of this journey doesn’t come until the vessel that carries our soul has expired. But I promise that journey will fill you far more than any substance ever could.