Having spent over one consecutive year sober for the second time in my life I have created the space and freedom to look more objectively at my life. It is not easy to see oneself unfiltered, and even more difficult when the picture is not what we desire, what we envisioned we would become years ago when contemplating our future.
There seems to be a belief that I heard repeated during my two years in AA, one that is echoed throughout most of our culture. It is a belief that limited me for 25+ years, the same belief that limits each and everyone of us. And the belief, while often not expressed directly, limited many I met from what I am pursuing, optimal addiction recovery. The belief is simply that of the tragic hero, that we are destined to have one or more flaws that we must accept and live with. Often I see this expressed as “diseases,” such as the concept of depression.
Bullshit. It is true we will always be flawed, that does not mean though that there is something intangibly different about those who have had addictions. We developed a coping strategy when we were vulnerable, and over time came to recognize that (those) behavior(s) were creating a cycle of pain and suffering for us and those in our lives. While this dysfunctional strategy manifests differently, alcohol, drugs, gambling, porn, caffeine, entertainment, and varies in intensity of destruction and imprisonment, at the root these are all learned beliefs and behaviors that we have chosen to express over time.
When I started on this path in my early thirties, out of desperation to save a failing relationship, I had no idea how deep this belief was embedded inside of me. As I gained clarity away from alcohol though this belief kept arising in me, not in words but rather sensations of anxiety, dread and despair as I pushed forward to try and regain my life. My amazing therapist at the time, Dr. Yani Dickens, verbalized another intuitive feeling I had, defining addiction recovery and my pursuit of it as “creating a life in which the addiction no longer effects you.”
This has been my driving force, to create a version of me that was so far removed from the addict version of myself (a false-self by the way) that my past no longer limited my present day results and my future potential.
Today is day number one of a commitment few will believe possible, complete freedom from destructive behaviors. For me this means continued abstinence from alcohol, gambling, binge-eating, and seeking other sedation over expanding as a man to create my dreams daily.
I will not create an expectation on how this looks as I recommit daily to expanding my vision, rather I will manage the inevitable discomfort and distress as best I can in each moment it arises.
Check out my blog and corresponding podcast on caffeine and sugar addiction for understanding as to how these two substances can be problematic.
If you are reading this and believe you may have a behavior that is harming you, a great community that continues to help me to this day is the SMART Recovery community, which offers a non-dogmatic, practical approach to addiction recovery using proven therapeutic tools.