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Today, I heard from an old friend. Someone who used to be sober but relapsed over 2 years ago. She is 48 hours into her detox, so dopesick she can’t even sit up in a chair. I remember what those early hours of sobriety looked like for me. How quickly we forget the anguish and suffering that used to be the only steady part of our lives.

I spent years knowing I had lost control while still holding onto the shred of hope that I could somehow “make it work”. An early death was something I had resigned to before even reaching the age of 18. I knew drugs and alcohol were going to kill me. The deep, insatiable desire for them came on almost immediately after I began using. My obsession with them would override everything; days, weeks and months would disappear before my eyes. Early on, I might have been able to moderate my consumption of substances but I had no desire to. Sometimes I would substitute using people, food or money to make up for the drugs I couldn’t get. But as my alcoholism grew over time, those things no longer worked on their own. I found myself having to act out in unhealthy ways regardless if I was strung out or not; and mostly, I was strung out.

The shame, emotional pain, confusion and rage made normal life impossible. Even if I was able to attain a “normal” life, enjoyment of it would have been unthinkable. If I could have seen into the future at the life I have today, I just wouldn’t have believed it. I knew deep in my heart that I couldn’t make it on my own. I needed help. I needed something other than my own ideas. That is what lead me to the rooms of 12-step meetings.

The tricky nature of alcoholism is its ability to confound and baffle people who know the alcoholic almost as much as the alcoholic themselves. I have been in a place of desperation countless times before I got myself to a meeting. I just didn’t know what was possible on the other side of alcoholism. I didn’t know that once I had admitted to my innermost self that I was an alcoholic, that I had already begun the process of transforming my life. There is freedom in admitting complete defeat. I just have to remain willing and open to new direction and experiences. This is a daily action for me, a step that I take every day with the knowledge that a spiritual solution is the only option for an alcoholic like me.

“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” – Wayne Dyer

 

When I am rigid and stuck in my ways, my days can become long and exhausting. During my days of drinking and drug use, it was “my way or the highway”. I was right and you were wrong. I was rigid and inflexible in my thinking. I was not willing to listen to what you had to say. Through working the 12-Steps, I have learned how to turn my will and my life over to the care of God. I have learned to open my heart and open my mind. The result being that my days are much easier. I have learned that being inflexible in my thinking causes me to have expectations. Those expectations are resentments waiting to happen. If I open my mind and if I am flexible, I have no expectations. Having no expectations means that I can be present and focus on the current moment. Being open and flexible allows me to change the way that I look at things. This is a much easier way to live life. This way of living leads to being happy, joyous, and free.