06 November 2018

The Then & Now of ADDICTION & RECOVERY (X 7)

Looking backward can be thorny and negative, but stuffing memories and the emotions attached to them may be worse. "Don't cry over spilled milk" will not solve or absolve anything. As Pearl S. Buck said, "One faces the future with one's past." 

In my recovery, I had to start somewhere. When I got sober, I had nothing, was nothing. Every choice started, finished and included alcohol until alcohol left nothing in its wake. 

Like seeds scattered in the wind, some of my memories sprouted within and blossomed in what became changes in my thinking, feeling and living in the present. Sustained sobriety has borne fruit from the wreckage of my past. To quote Viktor Frankl, "Suffering in and of itself is meaningless; we give our suffering meaning in the way in which we respond to it." 

Here are 7 Looks Backward / 7 Looks Inward:
1. Then... 
"Jane's addiction decided for her that she had suffered enough.... The pain of being unable to feel the pain was enough. The unbearable pain of the struggle to be free of her addiction was a giant wave whose undertow drew her back to the ocean of her addiction. She could no longer live free. No longer free. Under she went. The undertow of addiction drowned her. Jane's addiction could not undecide her death."

& Now... 
I am still sad at addiction's toll seen all around me. The world-at-large is finally beginning to see it, too. Can those who are lost or once were lost be the only ones who can understand? Can empathy be learned, hatred unlearned?

Can new connections form once we lay down our swords? Now I am clean. Now I am sober. And yet more die everyday. There is gratitude to be found. In then... and in now.
Lay down your sword.

2. Then... 
"Cocaine was one of many forces which drove me to my bottom. Less blackouts, more binges. I might have died a horrible death years and years later from alcohol alone. Cocaine and other drugs sped the progression of my alcoholism. Thanks Cocaine & Company!"

& Now... 
The flip-side of that coin is that even with double-digit sobriety, I'm prone to believe that just because I'm a dyed in the wool alcoholic, any and all other drugs could take me back out there. More twisted than a swizzle stick, today, again I say, "Thank You for Keeping Me Sober Today, Cocaine & Company!"

3. Then... 
"Addiction is godless, headless, insane. It rejects faith, reason, feelings. Addiction is heartless, the blackest night. No light. No sun. No stars. In its nothingness, we feel nothing and accept that nothing is acceptable and true. 'Cunning. Baffling. Powerful.'"

& Now... 
After the artificial extremes addiction seemingly provided, in recovery, my balance rebounded. Alcohol, in a class by itself, each day elevated me for the first few drinks, then, after blackout drinking for untold hours, crashed me down and out. All the while, I was separate from reality. Recovery heals. Recovery is life, pure and simple. Living. Connected, reconnected, alive.

4. Then... 
"There was a time when I was not there, but I did not know it yet. I would drink to forget, forgetting what I did not know. Not yet. I did not know yet. Where was I then, when I was not there? For years I lived somewhere between myself and the next drink. I would drink to forget what I could not think, halfway to nowhere and another drink. I was grieving and I did not know it. Someone was dying, but I could not feel it, feel my own dying. I could not own it because it owned me. Denial is so hard to feel, yet, there it is, standing next to you. You: Halfway to nowhere and another drink."

& Now... 
I am more fully present, not always, but long enough, sometimes, that the yearning that is addiction is not there. Living in the absence of the pull of the glass brings me peace. Neither thought of, nor need for the substances of addiction. Sobriety is peace, its own reward. The punishment is over. That punishment I had called desire, that pull of the glass... is over. Sobriety, fine-tuned, is a succession of feelings that you have arrived. It is not destination, but the lips almost say yes, nothing... is enough. You... are enough. There is a certain music to recovery, a harmony. Addiction is nothing but discord....

5. Then... 
"Addiction is a beast that lives within you. You cannot kill the beast. Denial, anger, fear will not kill it. Begging, pleading, blaming will not tame it. Depression, self-pity, doubt: they only feed it. Confront it. Accept it. The beast will never die."

& Now... 
Gratitude can grow from unexpected sources. Know that addiction is treatable, that recovery is doable and new growth is possible, inevitable. A serendipity serene, help-interwoven, options well-chosen, sobriety itself - golden. Enough is enough is enough... sober.

6. Then... 
"An avalanche and then forgetful snow. This is how I would die. Death by alcohol. It would seem to comfort as it killed..."

& Now... 
"Nothing matters more than that we remain sober because when we remain sober everything matters more."

7. Then... 
"Insanity's bouquet is not of different colored roses, or different flowers of various sorts. It's a bouquet of weapons, destruction, defense and offense, all wrapped in lies and gin-soaked tears, false laughter, hollowed-out bones. This is insanity's bouquet. Hot steel, cold steel, nothing. I will fill the black holes of my memory with a retrained brain. Live my way sober or lie my way drunk, powerless victim or sober victor. One foot in front of the other...."

& Now... 
The absolute desperation then, finally, knowing I was dying and knowing that the only way I could survive this was with help, without alcohol and with a boatload of hope in a sea of doubt. Fear. So much fear. This took many years. No "21 Days to a New and Better You." Alcohol had hijacked the survival part of my brain. Relapse. Relapse. Relapse. Sober roots. Sober wings. Of this I sing. Today, bursting with life, not battered and broken by decades drunk downward.
The many seeds sprouted as a direct result of dealing with my tumultuous past have finally, borne fruit. And from that fruit future seeds will soon be found and on and on the future unfolds, generation upon generation of recovery flowering, going to seed and flowering again. Such is the nature of this good and sober life. Drink after drink after drink after drink only killed. Even desperation suffered under addiction's spell.

The taste, smell and touch of recovery is unmatched by the numb and dumb of the damned next drink. Recovery is looking backward, forging forward, pungent, palpable, doable, livable, lush.
LOL... not that kind of lush!
And yes, I remember it well!

#Alcoholism #Addiction #Recovery
Passages in quotes are excerpted from All Drinking Aside: http://amzn.to/1bX6JyO
Recovery Tweets: http://twitter.com/JimAnders4
99+ more Recovery Posts: https://goo.gl/fmzt9b

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