By: Jana Greene
There is something so humbling about attending a 12-Step meeting, thinking “Whew! I’m glad I’m not THAT crazy person anymore!” and then waking up to walk on a carpet of pork rinds in your own bedroom. It kind of really drives things home.
I haven’t had a drink in nearly 15 years. As an alcoholic, I cannot afford to have even one.
That’s the truth about my drinking.
The truth about my ‘everything else?’ Its a little more complicated. I’ve heard it said that recovery is like peeling an onion – you address one issue and another is exposed. It’s so true.
Like this morning. I stepped out of bed, and into a pile of miscellaneous crumbs. They are miscellaneous because I parked out in bed last night (after a day battling chronic illness and a plethora of other minutia) I decided to binge on potato chips, pork rinds (pork rinds!) AND pickles, mindlessly, like a glassy-eyed Cookie Monster. Oh, wait. There WERE cookies involved too. I get so INTO food sometimes that I forget to taste it, and tasting it was not the priority anyway.
Eating my feelings was the priority. I am still – after all these years of NOT drinking – learning what to DO with all of these FEELINGS. There are so many of them, all the time.
The evidence of a ‘morning after’ eating binge can be just as distressing as a morning after alcohol binge. You wake up with that ‘what did I do last night?’ introductory thought, followed by deep shame and guilt when you remember (IF you remember, because sometimes I get so into it, I don’t even.)
I did not take into account last night that I was not actually really hungry, or that I would wake up the next day bloated and angry at myself.
No, because that isn’t how this thing works. You do not think ahead.
You are only thinking …
“I feel bad. I want to feel better. What will make me feel better RIGHT NOW?“
That’s kind of a summary of ALL ADDICTION, even in it’s most seemingly-innocent forms: I MUST feel better right NOW.
One cup of coffee? What is the POINT? Three gets the blood pumping.
Nothing wrong with a sleeping pill on occasion. But I have a high tolerance, you see. It takes more for me. And more than occasionally.
Exercise? No, thank you. UNLESS I work out far past exhaustion, and only in rare spurts.
All or nothing. No moderation. One of anything is insufficient…..candies, hugs, books, cups of coffee, cats. One is too many and a thousand not enough, as they say.
It is a miracle that I’ve not had a drink and I love knowing that sobriety is a real, actual thing…that God can enable ANY of us to live. I have not had a drink in 15 years, but the beast is only debilitated.
My alcoholism recovery is not a means to an end, in and of itself. I’ve de-clawed a Komodo Dragon, in a manner of speaking. Have you ever seen a nature documentary featuring one of those giant lizards? They have razor-sharp claws that can shred an animal bigger than itself in one swipe. They have super-sharp teeth, too. And the worse thing is that their spit is toxic as hell and if the bite doesn’t take you down, they wait patiently for the poison spit to infect and fell you.
So, in this glorious recovery from alcoholism, I’ve de-clawed the dragon. But I have to stay on guard. It has more than one destructive mechanism. It is always poised to pounce.
There is so much work to be done on my inside. The parts that demand instant gratification, while complaining it ‘takes too long’ (as the great Carrie Fisher – herself a recovering addict – has noted.) I want to feel better RIGHT NOW.
That’s not how this thing works.
I’m still that ‘crazy person’ and that’s the truth about me. But I now know that I don’t want to be the feeling-stuffer / eater / drowner / deny-er.) I cannot afford to keep doing that. If I do, the alcoholism is just waiting to infect and fell me.
I want to actually taste life, and think ahead. Look forward. I need to continue to learn how to be kind to myself and gentle with all of my parts. And to heck with what anyone else thinks.
You cannot please everyone and get well at the same time, of this I am sure.
That’s why I’m sharing this today, because you are only as sick as your secrets, and I’m ready to slay that damn dragon.
Here’s what the Bible has to say (insert Lion instead of Dragon, and this is actually kind of scriptural, even!)
“Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping. Keep your guard up. You’re not the only ones plunged into these hard times. It’s the same with Christians all over the world. So keep a firm grip on the faith. The suffering won’t last forever. It won’t be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ—eternal and glorious plans they are!—will have you put together and on your feet for good. He gets the last word; yes, he does.” 1 Peter 5-8 (MSG)