My struggle with addiction is a struggle with reality. I just don’t perceive reality in a reliable way. I don’t believe, or I’m unwilling to believe, that the next time I indulge, I will feel what some literature calls “pitiful demoralization”. I will feel that every time I go to my addiction, and yet I continually return. The coming pain is real, but I cannot learn that reality. Why do I go to my addiction? Because of some unbearable truth about myself: that I’m not good enough, I’m not doing enough, I’m letting down the people I love, I’m unlovable, I’m a source of shame. Those beliefs about me are just as false as my hope that one more high is a good idea.
Reality at all costs is not an easy road. That’s why the program is based on me getting help. I check out my thinking with my sponsor and my recovery peers and my trusted advisors. I get support to feel the feelings that I struggle with. I get help to stop expecting milk from the coffee earn and I get reminders that my addiction will sting every time.
I need to learn the reality of addiction every day. I get support from program and can pass that support along to others.
You had me at hello. --Jerry Maguire
Program teaches us to avoid contempt before investigation. It’s a simple enough proposition. I struggle with perceiving reality when I have all the facts, how reliable can my hate be if I haven’t even looked at the facts? And what about the other side - how about obsessive idolizing before investigation? How many times do fall in love in a day, or become convinced that this next diet, this next self-help book, this next fix will be the final fix? I’ve found my “soul mate” on the bus without even seeing their face, just catching a glimpse of their arm or their hair or their shape.
I am learning to save my caring and emotions and love for a receptive audience. I don’t have to throw myself at someone without learning who they are and what they believe. I don’t have to be a ‘cheap date’, I don’t have to make up for someone else’s shortcomings. I don’t have to take crumbs in my relationships. No one’s perfect, I know that all too well looking in the mirror, but I am learning to give myself to people after learning who they are.
I can learn about the people around me before I decide who to give my time and emotions to.
How many times have we said, “I’ve got it now”? We come out of the fog of addiction, put some time together, and then we really understand it. We get it, finally. We know it took us a while, but we finally get the program, we understand sobriety, we’re finally on track like everyone else at the meeting. Cunning, baffling, powerful. The truth is that being an addict means I’ll never get it. I’ll wake up with the same problem every day – a thinking problem, a misconception that I can figure out this struggle, come up with a recipe and then coast without having to work.
So, there’s nothing for me to ‘get’. I can’t think my way out of this disease. Whatever I think up today does not solve my problems of tomorrow. My recovery work is never completed, because I can always wake up with the seemingly sane idea that today is a good day to get high. What is it that I do learn? That my health is based directly on my spiritual condition. There is something for me to do every day in recovery. That doesn’t mean I have to lead the world service organization every day, but I do need to take steps in my recovery every day so that I can remain spiritually fit.
Recovery work is whatever I have to do to stay sober today.
Stupid is as stupid does. --Forest Gump
They best way to see how I’m doing in recovery? Take a look at what I did today. I can’t worry too much about what I think each day – my thoughts have proven to be unreliable. But my actions tell a pretty accurate story – especially when I check them out with my peers in recovery. Did I walk past the bar today? Why didn’t I take the longer route through the park? Did I cover my tracks today? Where did those tracks lead and why wouldn’t I want others to know? Who do I resent today? What am I doing to stoke that fire? What am I avoiding? Every day I can continue to inventory my conduct, then I can realize I’m veering towards my addiction, rather that wake up surrounded by drugs or booze or junk food or pornography and wonder, how did I get here again?
My actions tell my story for the day.
All my life I've been waiting for someone and when I find her, she's a fish -Splash
Sometimes we are just convinced of what we need. We set our expectations and will not let them go until they occur. I have to get this job; She needs to understand what I mean; I’ll never be able to achieve this dream; or I have to think this certain way. We’ve got it all figured out and if things don’t go as we expect, we can’t even imagine the result.
And gratefully, the truth, we couldn’t even list all the possibilities for our lives. The world is richer with more options than we can fathom. And that means whatever limits we have conjured up are our own limits. Faith in our higher power means that HP is in charge, HP comes up with the options, HP controls outcomes, HP drives the bus. How good a job is HP doing? When we think honestly and stay grounded in reality, the answer is that everything happens in God’s world for a reason.
I don’t have to figure out the answers, I just have to accept what they are.