After long bouts of using alcohol and/or drugs, we find ourselves malnourished, dehydrated, aching, nauseous and tired. In some cases, we may have caused internal organ damage or perhaps contracted serious infections from engaging in risky behavior; whether it was sexually transmitted or transmitted by sharing needles. Those are only physical consequences. Mentally, we are exhausted; our brains racked with paranoia and anxiety. Even though we are tired sleep will not come easily, for our minds will not cease to stop running. Guilt and shame plague us. Not solely the guilt and shame from our most recent activities but the same guilt and shame that we always drank or used to avoid feeling. Moreover, for an addict/alcoholic, finding a way to get more involves breaking the law which ends up resulting in moderate to severe legal consequences. Spiritually, most addicts at this point are devoid of any faith whatsoever. Emptiness is usually the feeling that permeates through our soul when we finally run out of steam. Our loved ones prayers are the only prayers being said as they pray for our safety while lying in bed for another sleepless night. Family and friends beg us to stop. So why on earth do we want to continue repeating this vicious cycle? What does it mean to finally be “done”? The real question is what are we willing to do stay clean/sober?
Let’s ask ourselves first, what were we willing to do to get more alcohol and/or drugs during active addiction? Many addicts would answer that they were willing to do anything just to get one more. So, for those that claim they have hit bottom and are “done”, why do we fight tooth and nail against following the suggestions of our doctor, therapist, group and predecessors? There are probably several answers. Maybe we don’t like being told what to do. Maybe we hold on to reservations that tell us we can drink or use again successfully. Maybe we are still in denial and don’t think we have a problem. Maybe we are so accustomed to our old behavior that we are scared of a new way of life. The bottom line is getting and staying sober/clean is hard work. It does not happen overnight. As alcoholics/addicts, we have historically acted on impulse because delaying gratification seems intolerable. However, we must practice new, healthy behaviors in order to get and stay well.
Willingness is defined as the quality or state of being prepared to do something; readiness. I believe it can be manifested in many ways. In order to get and remain clean and sober we must have the willingness to listen to all the things we don’t want to hear, talk about all the things we don’t want to talk about, and do all the things we don’t want to do. Even when it hurts emotionally, we don’t want to, we don’t understand the reasoning, or we don’t think it applies to us…do it anyway. Understand that we don’t have to do this alone. In fact, realizing and accepting that our own will did not drive us to a good location is crucial to recovering. Don’t ever become arrogant and think that you can stop talking to others and getting their feedback. Our ability to twist and distort reality is what gets us into trouble.
Willingness is the greatest gift we can give ourselves; we now have the willingness to allow others to help us become the person we are meant to be; to find out who we are without drugs/alcohol. If we have been free from drugs/alcohol for a while then let’s keep that same willingness and apply it equally to maintaining our recovery from substances and working on other aspects of ourselves or our life we would like to change.
Happy Thanksgiving my fellow Alumni!