Recovering addicts and alcoholics are the lucky ones. Hear me out ….
Once wearing their pain like a billboard for all to see, recovering addicts and alcoholics become, with the help of twelve life-changing steps, the embodiment of courage, honesty, and acceptance.
There is transformation, an alchemy into joy, serenity, and gratitude. All it took was hitting a bottom of epic proportions, and the surrender needed to crawl out of the darkness. That’s all -- nothing too hard.
The rest of us … well, we can be a bit more sophisticated when it comes to hiding our crap and perhaps, as a result, a bit more in trouble. Our addictions might look like the sunny side of numbing out: working too much, running one more marathon, and helping others until they are completely lacking in agency thanks to our good ol’ fashioned let-me-do-that-for-you.
It is not that these things are bad; they are good things that can be done to excess, for the wrong reasons, and fortified by the grips of denial. And, when done to the exclusion of other things like honesty: Houston, we have a problem.
Addiction is addiction regardless of how it is dressed up, celebrated, encouraged, and rewarded. Anything that we give up our power to and that we prefer over being present to the full monty of our feelings, puts us on a slippery slope. This slippery slope is dangerous for many reasons, including how it can be disguised and denied: many do not know they are even on it, skating just a few feet ahead of the cracks.
I hope you believe me, but most people have to discover it on their own: this time or the next time will not be different. Us bozos on the bus keep trying to find that sustainable high, and our efforts likely cause more dissatisfaction, not less. One more leads to less: less peace, less self-esteem, less connection. Maybe you will be the one exception when it comes to ignoring your addictions and still living your best life ever, but honestly, I doubt it.
There has not been an exception yet despite how smart, beautiful, wealthy or downright awesome someone is. Waking up to the whole catastrophe of who we are and connecting to that honestly and with humility requires that we put down the go-to’s that distract and numb us.
You know the distractions: gossip as entertainment, one-more-flirtatious-night-cap, one-more-believable-excuse, mind-numbing-scrolling, controlling-disguised-as-loving. So many distracting altars at which we worship, while we look for that quick fix that leads us to believe that life, indeed, is microwaveable.
Fighting My Addictions
My biggest addiction was thinking I was a Higher Power who could rescue, love, and guide anyone out of anything … until I couldn’t. I was so transfixed by my “power” that I would try and save people who were lying to my face, using and abusing me. To say I was complicit is an understatement; it was a depleting way to live.
However, I came by this twisted way of being honestly: I was really young when my mother was diagnosed with a terminal illness. She spent the next 12 years dying, and I spent those 4,380 days trying to save her. I didn’t. And then ... I spent many a decade looking for someone to save; no one wanted to be saved, and that is frustrating for us deluded-wanna-be-Higher-Powers.
So, I surrendered.
The breakthrough for me was not anything unique. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired while appearing to the rest of the world that all was ok. So I said “uncle” and gave in to a 12 step recovery program, a sponsor, a team of healers, and my tribe.
The Path to Finding Recovery
So here is the question we all benefit from:
what is the mast to which you tie yourself, so you are safe, anchored, and clear-thinking in the midst of the siren-call?
We all need a mast like Odysseus did when he had to avoid the seductive call of the sirens. They were so beautiful. What could possibly go wrong? (How many times has that question been asked at office holiday gatherings, family dinners, fraternity parties, and the negotiation table?) So he begged his companions, “no matter what, do not untie me”. We are safe from our distorted thinking only when we surrender to a similar grounding.
A friend of mine and fellow journeyer on this imprecise, challenging, and joyful spiritual path is Ian Morgan Cron. In his book “The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery,” he discusses self-ignorance: what we don’t know about ourselves can hurt us.
He says it is possible to free ourselves from the grip of self-defeating patterns, including whatever addiction is calling us, by tying ourselves to the mast of self-discovery; it ain’t easy. The process of self-discovery unites the emotional, psychological, and spiritual insight needed to dig deep, live fully, and as Ian writes, “complete the errand on which God sent us here.”
Isn’t that enough to stop you in your tracks? God sent each one of us here - on an errand - to do something meaningful and necessary. Finding ways to connect to ourselves deeply so we can accomplish this errand is a most excellent way to spend the one life we get. It is the call to leadership.
We are all recovering from something and here’s some hope you can take to the bank:
- Those of us who take the first step to recover from our own particular quicksand live with a powerlessness that is, interestingly, empowering.
- The more we walk away from denial, the more we can fulfill our purpose.
- The more we wake up and love big, the less our children are burdened with our unfinished business. And, the less our colleagues struggle to deal with us. They already have a heavy load from living and working with us, God have mercy, so let’s do all we can to lighten it.
- Keeping our side of the street clean makes what we do at home and work free from the time-consuming work of cleaning up messes we make.
- There are tools that keep you focused on doing the next right thing so you can lead and live happy, joyous, and free.
As I continue to find my recovery, my two go-to’s are no longer search and rescue. Now two of my go-to’s are prayer and cussing, not necessarily in that order. Ask my son. His friends. My tribe and clients. I hope it is an endearing quality: that my two go-to’s are thought to be mutually exclusive by many.
But … if you are one of those who don’t understand the power of praying and cursing, bless your heart and pray for me. As a recovering Higher Power, I am focusing on that errand God sent me here to run, which I believe is to teach myself and others how to connect. And I do this one moment at a time as I remind myself, “Let God be God.”
Connection Tip: Read Ian’s Book, “The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery”. Take the Enneagram that is on his website because it is simply the best Enneagram and report (https://ianmorgancron.com/assessment). Reading his book and taking the Enneagram and reading your report is a great first step, or 12th step or 100th step. Join us … we are saving you a seat!