I’m not shy about sharing stories about my addiction, but I am fairly nervous about sharing my writing with the people close to me. Like many people I am profoundly nervous of critiques, even when disguised in innuendo like “productive feedback” and “constructive criticism“. I’ve never taken personal censure well, even if the speaker’s intention has been for me to use it as a point of departure for improvement and self development. I get defensive and uptight and I can rarely find the value in what they are saying at the time. My addict side which may have appeared to be courageous and audacious, filled with self-confidence and dogmatic bravado in the years gone by, is actually the part of me that is severely lacking in any real self-worth and is demanding, insecure and seeks constant approval. It’s the part of me that even though I am sober sneaks into my life when I am tired, stressed or let my positive defenses down for even a minute and takes over…
Then I am immediately caught in an unhealthy, personal inquisition when I start to question the contributions I make in all areas of my life. When I am present-focused and in the now, I am calm, enveloped by a sense of contentment, with no doubt in my mind that everything will work out as the universe deems it to. I’ve read the books, I do the work. My Kindle is filled with the works of Dr. Wayne Dyer. My computer loaded up podcasts by Deepak Chopra. My copy of “The Power of Now” always on my bedside table no matter where in the world I am. Byron Katie and Brene Brown are two women whose work I greatly admire and am presently spending time reading their wonderful works. I spend a couple of hours with a personal coach every other week working on the elements of myself that require it…like my need for reassurance, my tendency towards procrastination and my personal inability to balance what comes in and out of my life. And all this positive and powerful work can be undone in an addict’s instant when I am feeling emotionally and physically weak and powerless. I know it’s the same side of me that was quieted by alcohol from the time I was a tween and as I mentioned in my previous post it’s ever so easy to just give into that side of ourselves. The side that can be so effortlessly quieted with a shot, a hit or a night at the poker table.
The hard part is acknowledging that we fight inner wars and that we need to honour and embrace all the elements of who we are. I need to accept the addict in me and find gratitude in what it is trying to bring to my life. That when I am feeling tired or run down instead of trying to avoid it, my addict is actually coaxing me to rest and relax. It’s hard to constantly wage war with myself, because on the days that I can bring the addict into my life and see the good that it is trying to show me I am far more at peace and present than on the days I am pulling away from that part of self. It doesn’t mean that I am giving into my addictive behaviour of the past, it means that I am seeing the addict in me and remembering that my power side is better served when it is in balance with my addict.
Instead of constantly running from one part of ourselves towards what we consider to be the positive opposite, we need to find a place of integration within our personal depths where the two exist side by side. It’s something I am working on with profound effort at the moment. However, the fact that I have pushed so hard against what I consider to be a negative part for so long means that there are days when this really messes with my mind. When I bring my addict and my power together I feel unstoppable, I don’t worry that my choices are anything other than spot on and I don’t doubt that I am exactly where I am supposed to be in that moment. Sobriety is not easy and there are days when I just want to “make the bad man stop”…the one who doubts and questions and feeds the hamster that turns the destructive wheel in my mind. But never even in those instants do I ever want to return to the life I had before, because even though it felt simple when I was drinking, the tough emotional days now don’t last and life really is better with a clear head and an honest heart.
‘Til next time