A Little Raw Honesty
Recovery is a journey between two stations. One station represents total chaos, and the other represents total serenity. What is important is not where you are, but what direction you are facing. -Unknown
I have written several times in the past few months that I have been semi-haunted with memories from the past. I have also written that it is very difficult to describe why these memories are troublesome. Mainly because, until today, I did not fully understand why the memories have been bothering me. Up to today, I assumed the angst generated from these memories was caused by guilt, shame and remorse. Like I have said in the past, here is how it goes: something in the present triggers a memory of a time when I was in active addiction, my mind will go back to those times, and I will feel disturbed. Depending on the situation, I will deal with it by either talking about it, writing about it, or praying, it goes away, and life moves on. But I have always had a niggling sense that there was something more that I couldn’t quite grasp, and that I needed to figure it out in order to move past it, but what it was and what I needed to do was not apparent, and so I just kept plugging away.
So this morning I get up, and, in the course of my morning routine, vaguely recall a dream I had that involved a time in my active addiction. It wasn’t a drunk dream, no drugs or alcohol were involved, but it did remind me of past events in my life. I recalled it, but was busy getting kids ready for school, so I figured I would get back to it at some point. I then connected with a friend in the program, and we agreed to see each other at a morning meeting. It was a Big Book meeting, where we read a story from the book Alcoholics Anonymous, and a couple of lines from today’s story stood out for me as if in bold print:
There have also been numerous times when I have thought about taking a drink. Such thinking usually begins with thoughts of the pleasant drinking of my youth. I learned early in my AA life that I could not afford to fondle such thoughts, as you might fondle a pet, because this particular pet could grow into a monster. Instead, I quickly substitute one or another vivid scene from the nightmare of my later drinking.
I swear, I read those words, and if my life were a cartoon, a giant lightbulb would have gone off over my head. This was the missing piece of the puzzle for me with these memories… yes, there is absolutely guilt, shame and remorse, but there was also an element of nostalgia, and a memory of when I received pleasure from my addiction.
I know this is tough for the non-addict readers to understand, or even hear (especially family), but, let’s face it: if active addiction was always terrible, then no one would be an addict. At some point in time every addict enjoyed their drug of choice, or else they wouldn’t have wound up abusing it. As much as I wish it weren’t true, the memories of when it was “fun” are still in my subconscious, and they still surface from time to time. And when I read those lines from today’s story, I realized that the dream was exactly that: it was reminding me of when I (thought) I was having fun.
You would think I would be incredibly depressed with this thought, but, actually, I was relieved. I honestly could not get what was bothering me about these memories, but now that I feel like I can explain them, and the subsequent feelings, I know what to do with them. For me, it was like have a box of tools that I knew how to use, and having a problem that required tools, but until I knew the specific problem, I didn’t know which tool to pull out and fix the problem. And now, when a nostalgic memory pops up (wasn’t it fun the time when I…), I simply have to acknowledge it, and then play the tape out (maybe that time was fun, but how about the following 300 times, when it became less fun, more dangerous, more isolating, and ultimately, nearly destroyed my life?). When I finish the thought, the answer becomes very clear: my worst day sober is 1,000 times better than my best day drunk.
That my worst day sober is better than my best day drunk!
Posted on March 27, 2013, in Recovery and tagged 12 step program, Addiction, Alcoholic Anonymous, Big Book, God, Miracle, Recovery, Sobriety, Substance Abuse, Thought, Time. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.