“Too often it is that they are always getting ready to live. Before they know it, time runs out.” ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
This business of living can be a very tricky matter.
Not long ago Marsha and I had quite a conversation on this topic. It dealt with addiction, a pervasive stumbling block to the living of one’s life and the making of one’s music.
We were driving back from Bloomington, Indiana, having spent the weekend with Marsha’s family. For some reason we took up the topic of addiction – whether it be alcohol, pills, food or whatever has a grip on the addict – and the trouble people have in confronting it.
Marsha is a trained therapist and in her practice addiction is frequently present. I therefore was fascinated by her thoughts and observations on the subject.
She wondered at why people are often willing to STAY SICK. The readiness factor in the getting better process utterly eludes a vast number of the afflicted. As she was driving she riffed on the question.
- The addict ignores health and well being
- The addict seems impervious to the suffering of others
- The addict is fixated solely on the next high
Why are madness and death so often chosen over recovery? Why do so few ever find a lifetime of sobriety?
Marsha suggested SECURITY as a possible cause – the need for people to constantly return to a “numbed out” state precisely because it is familiar. Even though that state produces multiple negative consequences, it also brings a certain security and predictability.
This notion squared with my own memories of alcohol. It did indeed provide a perverse kind of security for me, in that I could depend on it to produce a similar experience each and every time.
As we traversed the interior landscape of security we had to ask why SECURITY of this sort is so important when the only possible outcome is ruin.
Our conversation led us back to FEAR.
It is frightening, terrifying even, to imagine letting go of alcohol, pills, food, gambling, or whatever has become the focus of an obsession. The thing to which we are addicted often becomes a love object, our most powerful love object, and it feels impossible to survive its loss.
Taken one step further, perhaps it is even scary to imagine getting better, to contemplate a life not bound by the narrow confines of addiction. If we were to get better, would we be able to handle it? If we were better, would there be a new pressure to succeed in our lives? Would more be expected of us, and could we measure up? Would all of our joy be gone? Would we ever have fun or pleasure again?
There can be a certain solace in our sickness.
For Marsha, acknowledging these fears and allowing them to be voiced is an important early step in how she attempts to help. Fear, once exposed to the light of day, can begin to lose some of its grip and power.
I was reminded again of why we share our strength, hope and experience in sobriety. Of why we always extend a hand to show that getting better can be – better.
Just a Thought…
Pat and Marsha
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