Archive for category: Recovery Room

On Addiction, Dependency, and One Less Despised Thing

I’ve been writing a series on recovery. My particular bag of choice was liquor, but yours might be different. Perhaps you’re into pills, or eating, or not eating, or materialism. No matter; we’re all in recovery from something. Welcome to the Recovery Room. (And while you’re here, please consider liking my Facebook page to receive Recovery Room updates.)

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1.

It has been 206 days since my last good drunk. In fact, it’s been as many days since my last drink altogether. The early days of beating back addiction are something akin to swimming up-waterfall in a river of tar. It’s long, slow, intentional, relentless, gutsy slogging.

2.

Words With Friends is a good game, and well-meaning folks love to play it with their addict friends. I don’t suppose this is a thing limited to those with alcohol dependency; I suppose the cutters, sex-addicts, pill-poppers, and those with eating disorders have noticed it, too. The well-meaning advice pushers offer wise words. “Just stop it,” they say, or “have you considered a twelve step program?” They ask whether you’re harboring secret sins, sometimes mistake your desire for solitude with the hiding of a bottle, a blade, or a barbiturate.

Friends of Job, what if I just need space to process?

3.

Addiction is a tricky bitch, which, after convincing you she is safe, jumps in your lap and nuzzles your free hand just before biting off the tip of your nose (despite your face).

4.

There were twelve men at a table, of which I was one. The head, with squinted eyes and cocked head, wondered aloud whether a drunk could take the Eucharist, wine and all. I chuckled, said, “my protestant Eucharist consists of tiny crackers and individual plastic chalices of grape juice; why not?”

He laughed, retorted, “no… but seriously.”

It is no laughing matter. Can’t all things be redeemed?

5.

St. Francis expounded upon the great teaching of Jesus–blessed are the pure in heart. He wrote, “[t]he truly pure of heart are those who despise the things of earth and seek the things of heaven, and who never cease to adore and behold the Lord God living and true with pure heart and soul.”

I read Francis to say, “blessed are the recovering addicts, because by their recovery, they have one less thing to despise.”

6.

A friend asked me yesterday what I’ve found in my ever-awakening sobriety. I told him that both spirits and the hope of spirits help keep anxiety at bay. Between the hours of 4:00 p.m. and 10:00 a.m. a functional dependent can dull anxiety with his drug of choice. Between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., the same functioning dependent can overcome anxiety by fantasizing about the next fix. By comparison, the sober mind can have no fantasy, no hope of any anesthetizing agent. The sober mind has only the full illumination of all its anxiety, doubt, and pain.

This sounds like a terrible curse, save for that particularly overlooked promise of our little brother Johnny–if we walk in the light, as God is in the light, we have fellowship and are purified. And through the purification, awful as it may be, there is gratitude, joy, and peace.

Photo by by André Banyai, Creative Commons via Flickr.

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Here’s To The Human Crutches

I’ve been writing a series on recovery. My particular bag of choice was liquor, but yours might be different. Perhaps you’re into pills, or eating, or not eating, or materialism. No matter; we’re all in recovery from something. Welcome to the Recovery Room. (And while you’re here, please consider liking my Facebook page to receive Recovery Room updates.)

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“People use drugs, legal and illegal, because their lives are intolerably painful or dull. They hate their work and find no rest in their leisure. They are estranged from their families and their neighbors. It should tell us something that in healthy societies drug use is celebrative, convivial, and occasional, whereas among us it is lonely, shameful, and addictive. We need drugs, apparently, because we have lost each other.”
― Wendell Berry, The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays

I penned a piece for Shawn Smucker last week, a sort of naked confession about alcohol dependency. I don’t suppose I’ll make a habit of writing about addiction too much in these parts--at least not for a time--but I wanted to share some feedback I’ve been receiving from the piece.

I found myself at the IF:GATHERING, a women’s conference in Austin, Texas this weekend. I know; I know. It’s always awkward for man to find himself high-centered at a women’s event, but Amber was in attendance and I was scheduled to have a meeting directly after the conclusion of the conference, so I sucked up every ounce of testosterone I had and made my way to Austin Music Hall, which was flooded with estrogen. (Can I say that?)

I camped out in the lobby with another fella or two (men are like magnets to other men at these sorts of events), and we waited for the gathering to end. During the breaks, the women came into the lobby, gave us boys the old side-eye (“what are they doing here,” they might have said) and, for the most part, went about doing their thing. But here’s the meat of the matter: a few women came to me in these breaks, told me that they had read the piece at Smucker’s, and then said, “we’re not so different, you know.”

They shared with me of their eating disorders, their pain killer addictions, their dependency on liquor, or men, or fill-in-the-blank. I suppose I should have said something more than, “thank you for sharing your story,” but I don’t really have much advice for my fellow addicts (aren’t so many of us dependent on something?). Anything beyond “I hear your confession and thank you,” seemed trite, or platitudinal, or put on.

It’s not just been the women at the IF:GATHERING either. Some of you have privately emailed encouragement, confession, and the like, and I just want you to know that I hear you; thank you. These kinds of common stories bolster, remind me of the universality of brokenness, and also how recovery is hastened by the vulnerable kindred.

In these matters, I wonder if “I hear you,” and “me too,” are the most important thing we can say. Somehow, this kind of human connection matters in recovery. I don’t understand the magic of it all, and I don’t suppose I ever will, but I don’t reckon any of us will find our way beyond dependency without a confessor or two, and even then, without a few human crutches to help us hobble home.

I think Mr. Berry is right, “we use [alcohol, drugs, food, sex, cynicism, etc.] because we have lost each other.” Well… here’s to the finding.

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I’ve generated a Recovery playlist for those of you who share struggles (which is to say the majority). It’s a faith-based list, and it has been very helpful over the last 145 days of sobriety.

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A Naked Confession

Welcome to a naked moment.

Today, I reckon it’s time to let you in on a little secret, and I won’t talk much about it again for a while. I hope you’re okay with that. We’ll call this a hit-and-run confession. I reckon I should tell you to “listen up,” or “pay attention,” but since this is a place of semi-permanence, I’ll just come on out with it.

“Come out with what?” you might be asking. Follow me over to Shawn Smucker’s place for more.

Photo by by André Banyai, Creative Commons via Flickr.

Want to receive my updates in your inbox? Click here. Also, follow along on Twitter and Facebook.