Monday, November 8, 2010

"It Was That Bad"

The JFT today talked about how easy it can be to forget how insane we were in our active addiction. It brought to my mind the story from the AA big book about the jaywalker. I've blogged about it before and it's a well-known enough story that I'll leave it un-paraphrased here. The point of both is simple: in our active addiction, our insanity is on par with asking for a fatal wounding.

In many ways, that's what we did. It's what I did. It's not a big stretch to summarize my using career as an attempt to die slowly, because I lacked the courage to do it quickly. That might not make sense for a suicide survivor such as myself to write, but here's a clue as to how deep my insanity still goes, how it lingers and persists: there is a part of me still that feels if I had really been serious about killing myself, I wouldn't have let anything stop me. Now, I can take this talking point of Uncle Steve's and recognize it for what it is--an attempt to take my story of survival and turn it into something which will drag me down to the place where I might try again to die. That's what years of Recovery has done for me; it's allowed me to see the insanity of my disease and recognize it for the lies they are.

But after years of Recovery (or even mere months) we become different people. It IS easy to forget how insane we were. It's too easy to tell ourselves that things weren't that bad, that we weren't really all that insane. And that, of course, is the real insanity of this disease that never quits. It wants us to think things weren't that bad. If we forget how bad it was, if we romanticize the times we spent using, then we are taking the road to relapse. My disease doesn't want me to be healthy and sober, happy, joyous, and free. My disease wants me to be loaded. It wants me to be miserable. It wants me dead.

The more Recovery we get, the more insane our insanity seems. To someone who feels they are loved unconditionally, that there is a power greater than himself who wants all the best for him, to compare that with how I used to feel--that fate itself was personally at war with me, that I was doomed to lead a life of misery, those things are polar opposites. The same is true for my social relationships. Where I once was convinced that no one wanted to talk to me or spend time with me or have anything to do with me at all, now I have people in my life that love and care about me for who I am and appreciate me for my own unique self. To look back and remember what it was like can be painful.

I can still remember. I can still get back into those feelings, into that mindset. I don't like going there, but remembering it is different than living it. The sting isn't quite as sharp. And continuing to go to meetings, listening to newcomers, helps me to stay in touch with it and not forget. Those days are a resource to me now. They are the experience I draw on when I share and when I talk to newcomers before & after meetings. It's how I let them know there is hope. I can say to them with the authenticity of experience, "I have been where you are; I have felt how you feel; it really does get better."

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