I made a lot of promises in my active addiction. My unmanageability includes all the times I swore off of pot or porn or purging or prescription meds, as well as all the foxhole promises I made if I could be excused from one of my painful consequences. I wanted so much to have those oaths come true. Twelve Step literature tells me that I cannot make never-forever promises. I am in denial when I think otherwise.
And better than what I promise, is what I do. I am not perfect. I stumble and backslide. I keep making promises that I struggle with (I will go to a meeting today, I will call my sponsor today, I will show up on time today). But I get a new chance every day. A chance to do instead of speak my truth. A chance to let my actions speak for me. A chance to follow god’s path, right my wrongs, combat my denial. A chance to live with God and my fellows in recovery.
Tomorrow’s actions will speak louder than today’s promises.
Charles Van Doren: I’ll take my chances.
Dick Goodwin: A chance is what I’m giving you.
I don’t consider myself a risk taker. I am prudent and cautious. I am careful and trustworthy. That is pretty much true except in one aspect of my life. In my addiction, my denial is thick and hides risks that I wouldn’t want to tell anyone. Spending tens of thousands of dollars on my addiction. A college tuition, a down payment on a house, a retirement, all gone in a never ending quest for more – not sound risks. More is not an investment plan, more is not a goal. It is a desire that cannot be obtained.
My denial shows me where my risks are and where I need help. When I think I can make it on my own, I can bet that I won’t. When I think the risk I’m taking is reasonable or safe enough, I can bet that it’s not. When I think I know what’s best, what will work for me, what will keep me safe and sober, I can bet that I’m better off trusting my brothers and sisters in recovery. In my denial, I can’t recognize my best chance; honesty and God’s path. But if I look to my left and to my right, I will see others trudging along with me and know that I’m in the right place.
My higher power gives me so many chances; I don’t even recognize all of them.
I’ll be back. –Terminator
Addiction is relentless. It is unmerciful. It is absolute. It is unambiguous. When I get high, it is unstoppable. Whatever I sniff or ingest or imbibe or whoever I give myself or my power or my body to, once I begin, the consequences are immutable. I must go through tremendous intellectual gymnastics to make myself think I will not crash, to make myself forget what will absolutely happen. But like a train on tracks, when I get high my destination is certain, and my addiction is as out of my control as a locomotive.
Even if consequences are delayed, they will come. There are no freebies in addiction. There are no free hits. Every one takes up residence in my heart and decays my life. And one of the truest signs of my denial – I sit with that decay, I let it putrefy within me, I add heat and darkness to it, and let it fester. Who would live such a life? Not someone stupid, just someone sick.. An ordinary addict like me. How can I get clean? Turning on the light and opening a window helps. The true antidote does take tremendous courage. I tell my experience to another addict. It won’t be fun. But in program, I will be accepted.
My higher power came before my addiction and is available to me every day.
We’re on a mission from God. –The Blues Brothers
Safe to say that I don’t know much about my higher power. I have certain ideas about what I think HP should be like, should do, how HP should treat me (or make other people treat me). I like to specify outcomes and consequences to my HP. Sometimes I treat my HP like I treat myself – lots of demands and not much acceptance.
But I do believe in my higher power. Not just a higher power, but the one that I understand – for me, he’s nice, fatherly, bearded, not religiously affiliated, straight out of a Simpson’s episode; that’s just my HP, no one else’s. And I do believe in my HP. I don’t mean that I believe in the existence of God; nor do I mean that my HP will save my soul. What I mean is that when I am honest and truthful with myself, I believe that there’s no way I could have ended up here without the intervention of something outside of myself. Do I still want more from my HP? All the time. But then again, I’ve often had trouble understanding the concept of ‘enough’. My guess is that I get just what I need.
My higher power is just as reliable as my addiction, and a lot nicer.
You wanna be a true friend to them? Be honest, and unmerciful. –Almost Famous
You know what I hate. I hate it when someone calls me out. My natural inclination is to look for bullshit co-signers. My denial comes to me as tiny creeping insects. My denial takes up residence as stealthily as a snake and as camouflaged as a chameleon. My denial uses the environment of my mind, twists ‘near facts’ into structures of fun house mirrors. Some threads of my denial are years, even decades in the making. In that frame of mind, the last thing I’m interested in is rigorous honesty.
What an order indeed. Unmerciful truth is not my thing. It’s too much for me. I can barely order food at a restaurant without lying. How am I supposed to handle truth without denial?
And what about my ‘friends’ who share their honest impressions with me? I’m not used to friends like that; I resent them because I take their honesty as criticism and judgment. But if I ask, I will usually learn that these recovery peers are speaking from their own personal experience. Let’s face it, I can see the truth in others much more quickly than I can in myself. Sure I take what works and leave the rest. Honesty is not always comfortable, but it is tolerable. Addiction may seem comfortable, but it’s deadly.
My program will give me what I need, but not necessarily what I want.