Thursday, February 11, 2010

Moments of Clarity

"...the hope that this thing can change.  No matter how long it has gone on, no matter how bad it is...Lives that are transformed inexplicably are interesting.  They are interesting for us to read about, they're interesting to ponder, they're interesting to meditate on.

"But more than anything else, they show us that what's right in front of us is not all there is.  There's something else going on out there...And that is grace."

I am a grateful recovering alcoholic who loves reading other alcoholics and addicts stories of recovery and success.  Christopher Kennedy Lawford wrote a fantastic book about his destruction and redemption in "Symptoms of Withdrawl".  I related to his story though his drug of choice was heroin and mine was tequila.  I have his other book, published last year, "Moments of Clarity" and I am enraptured.  Reading the stories of other addicts always gives me hope and reinforces in me my commitment and desire to stay sober and help other addicts achieve sobriety.  In reading the stories I was taken back to my own despair and hopelessness.  My feelings of having no way out, not wanting out, yet wanting out so desparately.  Not being able to find my way, feeling like there was no help, but it was all around me.  Destroying everything and everyone that came into my path.  Those are incredibly painful memories.  My drinking career was relatively short by some standards, but infinite in others, and it was destructive, unbelievably destructive.  Even when I wasn't a drinker, full or part-time, my life never made sense to me.  I clung to everything to try and make myself safe.  I tried to control everyone and everything around me.  Then I began drinking, and I began drinking more, and more, until I was drinking full time.  And the consequences were severe and I learned my lesson.  I got sober, and I got sober for the right reasons, and I am grateful.  And now my life makes sense to me and I am at peace.

I talk on a daily basis with other recovering addicts in formal and informal settings.  We seem to have a common theme:  to be accepted.  I don't know how that got twisted in our heads that alcohol or drugs could make us acceptable, but it seems to be a recurring topic.  I have a co-worker who is struggling with the painful emotions of her sons addiction.  I finally said to her one day, "once he figures out he is valuable, he will get sober because he will know he is worth it."  And then she told me the story of why he thinks he's not valuable and it breaks her heart.  I know that feeling and it was suffocating.  "I'm not worth it, I'm not important, I'm not valuable."  And then the other side I had unbelievable grandiose thoughts about who and what I was and wanted to be.  None of it made any sense and is the classic addict thought pattern.  What a relief to walk into the rooms of AA and be accepted.  Finally.  No matter what, I am accepted, and I know I am valuable.  No matter my twisted thoughts about anything, I am accepted.  I learned that I am valuable, even if in a small sense of the word and world.  I belong right where I am and everything happens for a reason.  In this book, the purpose is to bring addiction into the open.  There is a stigma and I understand that stigma.  No one wants to be around an addict who is active.  I know this alcoholic was explosive.  But we need to understand it at a deeper level and reach out to those who are still suffering because they are suffering in ways normal people can never imagine and they need our compassion.  I am grateful Lawford wrote this book and others were willing to share their stories and I hope it creates a dialogue of openness.  So does he.

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