4,748 days. 13 years. Sounds like a very long time. For me it’s a milestone. 4,748 days since I last chose to systematically disassemble my life by snorting white powder up my nose and tearing my life apart one line at a time. 4,748 drug-free days. I repeat the number with a sense of awe, eyes full of tears, and a heart of gratitude.
When you see the detritus and waste and wreckage of a life pissed away laid out before you it brings a certain amount of regret and self-loathing. Why did I choose to hurt myself and others by being weak? By choosing to live my life in such a negative and destructive manner?
You can spend a lot of time ruminating on questions which may have no answers or finding answers which only make things more disappointing. I have considered all the addiction lingo, been to counseling,…done most everything those who are in the know adamantly hold forth as the plan for recovery. I am sure some of the suggestions have benefitted me. I also know there is not necessarily a one size fits all recovery plan.
Through the last 13 years I have evolved in my conclusions about what works for me. The formula for being the best me may not work for others. I get it. I don’t get butthurt when I am criticized for not being ‘traditional’ on the road to recovery.
Anyone struggling with addiction reaches their own “bottom” in a manner specific to them. Though the “bottom” is similar in many ways and it is also personalized based on factors in the addict’s life.
One of the toughest things for me to accept was the realization that I had been a co-conspirator in the theft of my own soul. A man created in the image of G-d acting so ungodly. Daily choices so bizarre there are times in retrospect I am awed I was never placed in a rubber room and had the proverbial key thrown away.
It easy once the fog begins to clear and the damage done begins to shine through to give up hope. On a concrete slab in a holding cell I never felt more without hope; yet as strange as it sounds, I was relieved. No matter the collateral damage, no matter the consequences, the madness had stopped and the potential for change was in my hand. The choice was easy, the living out of the choice not so much. You can’t simply snap your fingers and undo the damage a full-throttle addiction caused. It’s like trying to put out a forest fire with a tissue-paper blanket.
It’s been a long road for the last 13 years. Thankfully I haven’t had to walk it alone though the choice to stay clean has been mine and mine alone. I am worth more than I allowed myself to be as an addict. I deserve better. I have gifts and the ability to shine light in darkness. All the antecedents which drove me into despair and darkness have no validity for me. The opinions of others, the bars of measuring success used by society, and many other factors just are. How I choose to allow those things to impact my thinking is what is important to me. I choose life. I chose darkness and ugliness for a very long time. I knew nothing about loving myself or others. I didn’t feel worthy of love or acceptance. I had no self-confidence, no ability to rise above the deep darkness which was my world. At the end of the day though there were parties to the dissembling of my life, it was my choice and mine alone to self-destruct. It is also my choice to live each day to the fullest.
My road to recovery is good. I have accountability sources for which I am grateful. I work with several men in different stages of their recovery. I share my story and they share theirs. We share each other’s struggles and victories. It’s the little things which compel one onwards to the bigger things.
In the sharing of stories there are times the details sometimes make the soul wince; then you remember some of the things you did, or tried to do, or could have done while high and you realize that what you are hearing differs only in degree from the moral and psychological insanity that characterizes your own life.
There are days I just need someone to reassure me I’m not indeed of diminished capacity. Thank G-d there are people in my life who encourage me beautifully. There are also people in my life with whom I can speak and hang up thinking “My G-d was I really that messed up?” I am not being unkind; I do my best to view people through a heart of love and grace. Some days the love has to get a little tough. Life is not a dress rehearsal and I’ve stood beside too many caskets of people who, for whatever reason, lost the battle to the demons of addiction. Rigorous honesty means either get in or out of the game. It means don’t waste your time or mine until you’re ready to make a change. If nothing else my BS detector is well-honed. I have very little patience with those pretending to want to get better. Perhaps a moral deficiency on my part, however, there are so many in need and so little time I try help those who are helping themselves get better before I babysit someone playing a game.
Here I am 4,748 without cocaine in my body. Without sounding arrogant, I’m impressed with me today. Just for today. It’s time to give myself a little pat on the back and maybe eat an ice cream cone to celebrate. This journey, one day at a time, and some days minutes at a time is beautiful. To have come from the narrowness and darkness to the Light and the path to reaching my full potential is a gift not everyone lays claim to. I am grateful.
May the G-d of all Creation grant me the security of knowing that though like Yaccov, I have been broken, wounded, and renamed by the struggle of addiction that I live on with a story to tell, a Light to shine, and a life to live to the fullest for as long as there is breath in me.