Tuesday, November 10, 2009

"I Know Too Much Now"

I've heard it shared a number of times at meetings by people as they accumulate more clean time that they 'can't relapse' because they 'know too much now'. On my more bitter days, I try not to smirk as I think ruefully how that hasn't stopped anyone before. They don't say relapse is a part of Recovery for no reason. When I'm in a better place, though, I understand exactly what they're talking about.

Hard times are part of life. When we get clean, life doesn’t become all wine and roses. Life is tough, sometimes rough, and occasionally so hard we haven’t the faintest idea how we’ll get through it. Thoughts of getting loading can float into my mind as casually as wondering what I'm going to have for dinner. It happens when things are good, too, but for me it’s mostly when things are hard.

The promises from the Big Book tell us that fear of financial insecurity will leave us. I can agree that the fear has left me, but that doesn’t mean I like being broke. The same is true for loneliness; I have friends, and I’m okay being without a girlfriend, but that doesn’t mean I don’t wish for more friends and a partner to share my life with.

When I think about 'going back out' (as we say) it’s a multi-layered thought now. It’s not linear; I don’t think, “Man, I want to get high/drunk!” and then chide myself because it will result in disaster. A lot of people do what they call ‘playing it through’ where they imagine getting loaded, then continue on with the fantasy to all the chaos that inevitably follows. I don’t ever quite get to that point. When thoughts of using crop up in my mind, they are always accompanied by a deeper layer—the knowledge that all I’m really wanting is to escape.

Escape was my main reason for using. I used to escape from thoughts I didn’t want to have, from situations I didn’t want to deal with, from emotions I didn’t know how to handle. If life threw something at me that I couldn’t or wouldn’t accept, I got loaded so that I didn’t have to. I was like a two-year-old stamping his foot, arms crossed, shouting ‘no’. Ironically, the only action I knew how to take was inaction. Before I got into Recovery, I had never learned how to deal with anything, really. The only tool in my toolbox was denial.

The knowledge I have gained from my Recovery is that I can handle whatever life throws at me, even if I don’t want to and even if it doesn’t seem like it. Bad times pass. Good times, too, for that matter. I’m a person of action now, and I take action when the situation calls for it. I have a whole new set of tools, thanks to the program. I don’t always like using them, but I know now that problems don’t go away when I run from them. Feelings don’t go away when I use to escape from them. Life doesn’t stop happening just because I’m loaded.

The ‘too much’ that I know now is that escaping through getting loaded isn’t really an escape at all. No matter what I fix with, it doesn’t change anything in reality. It will all still be there, waiting for me when I come down. And the chaos that would result from my getting loaded would only add to whatever it is I’m [not] dealing with. That’s why I don’t pick up, because I know too well that it does nothing for me. And I haven’t forgotten that the drugs and booze stopped working for me a long time ago.

It’s why I got clean in the first place.

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