Sunday, June 23, 2013

Curly:  Do you know what the meaning of life is? It's this [holding up one finger].
Mitch:  You're finger?
Curly:  It's one thing.
Mitch:  What?
Curly:  You have to figure out that for yourself.
–City Slickers

As an addict, my only real goals were to get high and get away with it.  That becomes a progressively more difficult task as my consequences pile up on themselves.  I had a life, but it was happenstance and unintentional. 

Now in recovery, I have the same goals every day, staying sober, finding God’s path, and being of service.  That is my foundation, but is it a life?

And even outside my addiction and recovery, what is my life’s work?  Is it the job title I hold, or the neighborhood I live in?  Is it achieving a level of recognition?  Is it earning a certain amount of money?  Spending a certain amount of money?  Is it getting someone’s approval?

What if it’s none of those things?  What if my life’s work is the process of living life?  What if my life’s work happens every day, and is not a final product or destination, but instead is the living of my life?  If I need a daily inventory, I can look at Step 10.  I can remember that there is no rule book to life and no prize to win except for the experience of living.

Living life is life.


Every day I’m learning; All my life, I’ve only been pretending  –Les Miserables

There are so many lies in the lie of denial.  I lie to myself.  I lie to my family and my friends and my work colleagues.  I omit truths.  I put on a show of what I think other people want to see.  I play the role of someone else.  All of those lies and rules become exhausting.  Maybe that’s why it always seems to fall apart.

And why all the pretending?  It’s because I think I’m unbearable.  I think that I can’t stand myself and no one else can stand me either.  It’s all a tremendous drama, self obsession, the bondage of self.

Am I really that bad?  I have made mistakes, yes.  I have hurt people that I would never want to hurt, yes.  I have to live with consequences that make me sad and angry and afraid, yes.  Guess who else lives like that?  Everyone in my meetings, everyone in recovery, and in fact, all 6 billion people in the world.  I am not alone in my imperfect, organic life.  I can try showing my real self, mistakes and all.  I can learn to be a better friend to myself.

The real me is really pretty cool.


I would never wanna belong to any club that would have someone like me for a member.  –Annie Hall

Why do I get high?  Why do I drink?  Why do I act out?  One reason, I just don’t like myself.  I don’t think I’m good enough to respect myself.  First, that thinking a lie, so I go to my addiction to make the lie true.  Second, those kind of not-good-enough thoughts devastate me, and I turn to my addiction to numb that self-inflicted pain.

The reality is that it takes a tremendous amount of energy for me to keep myself down and feeling like I’m no good.  I take a tremendous amount of energy to make me and everyone I know lose respect for me.

Recovery is a whole different way of life.  I put my energy towards honesty, accepting reality, developing faith, cleaning house and offering service.  That takes a tremendous amount of energy too.  And it leaves me with self-esteem.

I can ignore the rules in my head and be good to myself.


One is too many and a thousand is not enough. I have that problem with men. –Looking for Mr. Goodbar

Some things I can do without consequences.  Like swimming.  I can go swimming or not go swimming without issue.  I’ve never missed work because I was swimming.  I’ve never lied to my spouse or family or friends about swimming.  I’ve never spent my entire paycheck, or racked up thousands in debt to go swimming.  I’ve never gone swimming when I didn’t really want to.  I’ve never gone swimming and felt worthless afterwards.  I’ve never sworn off swimming and then not been able to stick to that decision.

Why?  Well, I’m not powerless over swimming.  My life is not unmanageable because I go swimming.  Maybe that’s what some people experience, but not me.  I’m not addicted to swimming.  Whether I never go swimming again in my life, or go everyday for a week or a month, it doesn’t destroy my life.  It’s different for me with liquor and beer and food and sugar and sex and drugs and people who are not safe for me to be around. 

And no matter how many clever analogies, I will never really understand why I’m an addict or how my addiction works.  All I know is that I just can’t do it, because if I do it, I just can’t stop.

I can stay sober, even if I don’t understand my addiction.


Forrest:  What's my destiny momma?
Momma:  You have to figure that out for yourself.
–Forrest Gump

            Sometimes I just wish someone would tell me exactly what to do, how to feel, what to say, how to live.  Let’s just suppose that for today, I get it, I’m an addict, I don’t know what’s best for me, I’ve got a thinking disease, I can’t do it alone.  So, how about a little help, huh?  I’m willing today to turn my life and will over to the care of my higher power.  So why the noodle isn’t my higher power taking over?  I should wake up with a list and schedule next to my bed showing me exactly how to get through the day.

            I’ve never gotten such a note from God.  Have I?  What about the time my phone broke when I tried to call my dealer?  What about when I actually stopped and smelled a flower?  What about when my recovery friend called when I was in pain?  God is there, keeping me on his path and helping me become a full person.  A person who cares about myself and others.  A person who is choosing life over death.  I may not know how it will turn out, but I am learning what direction I want to choose.

My destiny is in God’s hands and when I’m sober, God let’s me steer a little.


Even the darkest nights will end and the sun will rise.  –Les Miserables

            It’s the forgetting disease, addiction.  Something happens, good or bad, and my thoughts narrow.  I forget I have options.  I forget the truth.  I forget acceptance.  I forget the chance for joy in my imperfect life.  I forget to be humane to myself.  I forget that I’m powerless.  I forget about consequences.  I forget that my lies will be discovered.  I forget that addiction leads to brutal shame.  I forget that I matter.  I forget that I can hurt my loved ones with my actions.  I forget that God is there and that God loves me.

            And I can go in circles about whether I really forget or I just don’t care.  Either way, there is a very simple and very hard choice to make:  Can I believe?  And even, can I act-as-if even if I don’t believe?  No matter what my human brain may concoct, the truth is that God is always there, whatever I’m experiencing will always pass, whatever I’m convinced of about myself – good or bad – will change.  Whatever challenges I am facing will not kill me.  The only way my addiction can kill me, is if I feed it.

I can make it through today sober, no matter what I may think or feel.

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