I don’t remember much of my life before recovery. I was 22 years-old back then, didn’t know my ass from a hole in the ground. It doesn’t help that I’ve never remembered my entire 21st year on the planet. It was one big blackout. I literally remember nothing after my 21st birthday until after I turned 22 and the People of the State of Michigan decided I should probably sober up.
I know what was out there for me if I’d have stuck to drinking. The likelihood that I’d even be on the right side of the grass, pumping air at 46 is pretty slim. I’ve seen too many good people end up in prison, or worse, because they couldn’t or wouldn’t kick getting drunk or high.
All too often, when it comes to recovery, I see things that just break my heart. The notion that a massage or some good old-fashioned self-knowledge will “cure” a person is deceptive at best, deadly at worst, but usually just plain stupid.
Now maybe I was a special kind of messed up. Perhaps I was a real, real hardcore drunk?
I needed my entire life overhauled. I needed to learn how to be honest with myself and others – and that’s more than your “That depends on your definition of the word ‘is'” political honesty too. I mean rigorously frickin’ honest. It means, “I know what will happen if I allow alcohol or drugs into my system… Chaos.” honesty.
I have to do the best I can to be the best person I can or I’ll be lost or dead. There are no second chances, no more bites at the apple, no more ways I can game the system. I have to be done trying to figure everything out. I have to be done trying to cheat, lie and steal my way through life.
I have to maintain a fit lifestyle. I’m a miserable SOB when I’m polishing the couch with my butt. Hell, I even hate me like that.
I also had to give up all delusions that I can ever drink alcohol or consume mood or mind-altering drugs successfully. I’ve tried every combination out there, I just can’t make it work.
Finally, I had to start living a life based on spirituality. Not, “go to confession and give me ten Hail Mary’s” spiritual. “Do unto your brothers as you would have me do unto you” spirituality.
I read a post yesterday, written by a doctor, that proposed the key to fixing addiction is fixing poverty and homelessness. That sounds awesome but it’s not even close. It’s so wrong, I actually chuckled. Here I was, a silver spoon in my butt 22 year-old kid, never had a want for anything and fixing poverty and homelessness is going to straighten me up? How naïve! That might make a great government grant request but the notion is silly on its face.
Poverty and homelessness are symptoms of alcoholism. As is dishonesty, as is lethargy, as is a complete moral decay of a person. Fixing the symptoms only keeps one dependent on the medication.
For me to have a fighting chance, I had to fix the alcoholic, and that takes a little more than a nice bike, a massage, and a place to hang my hat.
As they like to say, if you sober up a horse thief, you’ve still gotta deal with the horse thief.