I have never written on this blog before anything that is not poetry but since the point of this whole thing in the first place is to chronicle a journey, this is part of that journey.
It’s no secret, if you’ve read my work that I am an addict. Almost 15 years clean but sobriety is an issue that has recurred and continues to be a struggle. I am taking a trip soon that will offer me the opportunity to see some old friends and spend some time in a situation that to me feels like too much temptation and just an atmosphere that would be better avoided. As the time approaches I can feel the tension growing and just and unease about the whole thing.
The thing about addiction for me that is so frustrating is the feeling that I somehow have ended up ‘less’ than everyone else. “Why can’t I just have a drink at the end of the day like anyone else?” There is a whole series of ‘why’s” for me that fall into that category and in the end I feel a resentment like I have been cheated out of something…interesting thought really as for me it kind of seeps into other areas of my life as well. I find when I am struggling in situations where I feel the most helpless is when I want to drink. Like somehow since I can’t get what I want I have an “I’ll show you” kind of feeling with taking a drink. The thing is the only person suffering from my choice to take a drink is me. I suffer the consequences of those decisions in the moment, because chemically alcohol affects me differently than ‘regular’ people. And I also suffer after the fact the repercussions of the guilt and shame for not being stronger than my addiction. What happens to me emotionally after drinking is an overwhelming feeling that I am not worthy or good enough and that of course is what perpetuates addiction, that is when taking the next drink (or whatever your addiction of choice) numbs that pain and keeps you feeling nothing yet spiraling further down and so it continues.
I’ve recently been up against this wall again off and on. I am going through a situation that I am struggling with compounded by life (well, who doesn’t have to deal life right?). So heading toward the trip mentioned in the beginning of this I decided to take myself out of the situation and not attend the function. The response from my friends was ‘we won’t let you slip, just show up’. While that is a nice thing to say, it really doesn’t touch what is going on. It isn’t anyone else’s responsibility to keep me sober, it is mine. Whether or not I chose to take a drink in that situation either is not the issue at hand, it is what I need to come to grips with emotionally about ‘why’ I feel the way I feel about it. I am not yet a place where I understand those things yet and that is the reason to not be in a situation where I am likely to find myself frustrated and anxious.
The thing about recovery in general that I really struggle with is that the healing process has behind it the idea that you have to surrender your helplessness against the disease before you can heal. That for me again perpetuates the whole idea that I am somehow ‘less’. I am not helpless in any way and to drink is a choice that I make. For me, I need to understand why that ‘less than’ feeling is there, where it originated, and how to heal it. There is no surrender, in fact for me, it’s more of a battle to get to the heart of the matter and heal it.
Taking ownership of this situation by opting out of it is a huge step for me in saying ‘hey, I’m not ok’. For me it’s always been a very ‘hidden’ thing and not something that I openly discuss while it is happening. I don’t reach out in those moments when things are at that point. Recently I wrote a piece for this blog called “Addiction Feels” that describes the moments leading up to taking a drink and what that feels like physically and got some wonderful support from a friend and from the blogging poets in this community. That support is what I drew from in making the decision to not go into a situation that I have reservations about and to trust my emotions and unease enough to know that even though it may seem that I am overreacting, this decision feels right to me and I am allowed to trust that and not worry what anyone else thinks or fear that I might be seen as weak. That again, is a huge part of this for me, that ‘surrender’ thing feels a weakness. So in this decision I feel like I have taken control of something that often feels like it controls me.
I feel a little stronger today.