Close to thirty years ago I checked into treatment for my alcoholism and addiction to other drugs. It was a terrific relief.
I’d known for a long time that I was an alcoholic. I was essentially unaware of AA and its purpose, or that there were effective treatments for addictive disease. I wasn’t entirely unaware, because I’d been dealing with drunks and addicts for years as a police officer. It had simply managed to escape me that AA and other programs were anything other than a place to dump problems that turned up back on the street later.
By the time my boss more-or-less forced me into treatment, I’d had most of the jackpots: divorce, foreclosures, evictions, loss of other people’s money as well as tons of my own, estrangement from relatives — all the fun things that we addicts collect along the way to perdition. My denial about my surface problems was pretty weak, and it didn’t take much for me to become accepting about treatment, then hopeful, and then enthusiastic. I ended up damned grateful to the Chief of Police and whoever advised him about how he should deal with his relatively high-ranking and increasingly visible problem.
So I got sober and became a credit to my mother, my school, my family, my country and all that good stuff. I worked in the recovery field. I talked recovery. I even became a bit of a recovery guru, writing about addiction on my own and for treatment facilities that needed a down-to-earth approach to some of their material. But to a great degree I was a fraud, and I didn’t even know it.
I think of this as Gratitude Day. (No, I’m not making a list.) Six years ago today it was forcefully brought to my attention that, after 23 years of thinking otherwise, I was not really sober.
I stopped using substances in September of 1989. It was easy. I detoxed in a treatment facility and hit the ground running. For many years I wondered why it had been so easy for me and difficult for many others. Sometimes I felt a little embarrassed that I couldn’t come up with any white-knuckle recovery stories. (There were plenty from “back in the day,” because I was unquestionably an addict.) Other times I fell into the trap of comparing rather than relating, feeling superior rather than examining the reality of my so-called “sobriety.”Continue reading →
Readers of these pages may have noticed that I have a “thing” about the God Controversy in our fellowships. In fact, I’m pretty sure I mentioned it at some length recently. :-) The subject interests me because I remember well the philosophical contortions I went through for my first ten years or so in recovery. I came to need to believe, or thought I did, but I just couldn’t. Having rejected, for what still seem excellent reasons, the religious beliefs of my youth (which never made much sense to me anyway once I reached the age of reason), I looked around desperately for a different path because I found pseudo-Atheism unsatisfying to my need for a spiritual practice – which I firmly believe has been hard-wired into Homo sap in some fashion. (Good opening there, Theists.) The biggest problem was with prayer. Continue reading →