A big part of addiction is self-hate. At least this is one of the things that I found to be true when I took a step back and really made a point of actually trying to figure out why I had been so dependent for so long on chemicals. Maybe I’m just weird, but I suspect that it’s similar for most people. We use the drugs, or food, or porn, or whatever it may be, to try to exist differently for a while, to be something else other than what we have been accustomed to being. We feel the need to escape in order to feel safe.
For me, after a little while, the escaping became so routine that I’d forgotten why I was doing it, and for great, long expanses of time, I even forgot that I was doing it. Being intoxicated had become the goal in and of itself.
It took a lot of time, and a lot of mistakes before I got a solid grip on recovery, and realizing what was at the bottom of it all (self-hatred) and why it was there (traumatic rejection from early childhood) was an absolutely crucial piece of the puzzle. I imagine it’s a bit different for everyone, but I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that, when it comes to addiction, there is for each of us some dark, painful secret buried deep inside, that we are trying to cover up. Something that we are trying to escape the consciousness of. Something terrible. Maybe something that we are so ashamed of that we actually cover it up all the way and forget it’s there.
That’s what it was like for me, anyway.
Using chemicals was something that I did to feel safe, and it went on for so long that I really didn’t believe that it was possible for me to ever be free of the patterns. My life was falling apart, and the people closest to me were being slowly destroyed right along with me, and I wanted to change, I wanted to stop all the chaos and have things just be normal, but I believed that I couldn’t. I believed that I was stuck.
People in the recovery world talk about “hitting bottom.” It’s a figure of speech that they use to refer to arriving at a place in life where the pain of changing finally becomes less than the pain of staying the same. For some of us it really takes a lot to get there. I’ve known guys that have such a high tolerance to pain that they never do get there. They burn out, die young, or disappear in some other way without ever breaking free
We have to die before we can be reborn, and some of us are harder to kill than others.
For me, it took losing my wife. I had to get to the point where I could look straight into the simple fact that I had, through my lies and abuse, destroyed her trust and her love, which had once been so pure and perfect. I had to see it, know it. I had to really realize it. Then I could see that I needed to change. I couldn’t count on God to magically change me; I had to take the first step, and once I had taken it, I had to continue choosing to put one foot in front of the other.
Now, if I were to tell you that there hasn’t been a seemingly supernatural source of strength and transformative power welling up from somewhere within myself as I take these steps, I would be a liar. There absolutely is such a strength, and I believe that it comes straight from God. I believe that when Christ said “the kingdom of heaven is within you,” he really meant it. I believe that’s why the conservative religious leaders of his day conspired to have him executed, because he dared to put forth the blasphemous notion that the prostitutes and drunkards could receive forgiveness and expect salvation, and that believing the “right” things about God, or being initiated into a special group of people, was useless in and of itself.
Anyways, it’s late and I’ve rambled, and I’ve got herbal tea to make. That’s right. Hardcore mode.