Recovery from Obsession


Have you ever found yourself obsessing over some person, place or thing?  Have you driven yourself to madness with the thought of losing an object of great desire?  Have you acted in ways you can hardly describe from the madness of an obsession?

Obsessions are not unusual occurrences to those of us in recovery, as we have all experienced the obsession of alcohol.

  • Have we not lost the respect of loved ones?
  • Have we not seen fortunes disappear?
  • Have we not found ourselves alone and isolated?
  • Have we not been utterly disheartened by our inability to stop?

So when we see uncontrollable obsession transferred to other objects of desire we experience a truly frightening situation.

I remember my friend “Max,” who had accumulated 11 years of sobriety, chaired countless meetings, engaged in many service related works, a guy who was considered by many a pillar of the recovery community in Seattle.

Then, a particular woman took his fancy.  She was a newcomer, and, as they say, the rest is history.

ob·ses·sion noun an image, thought, or influence which continually fills or troubles the mind; a compulsive interest or preoccupation, seemingly beyond one’s will to control.

Max obsessed over this woman to such a degree that he became jealous of her every move.  Soon his jealousy escalated into violence.  Max began beating her and acting in ways previously outside his character.  The authorities were eventually called and Max found himself incarcerated, now attending meetings behind bars.

When he got out he found the bottle and in no time chucked away 11 years of sobriety.  Max was once again a wet drunk, re-digging his own grave.

In humiliation and despair, Max returned to his father’s home in New Jersey and set about the task of restarting his sobriety.  You see, Max knew what he had to do, and was man enough to own up to his slip and start over.

As it turned out, a young man I had sponsored in Seattle years before was finishing a PhD at Princeton.  He also happened to chair a first step meeting in Princeton, New Jersey.  Max slipped into that meeting one evening, encountered “Josh,” connected over their shared history in Seattle, and went out for coffee.  Josh ended up sponsoring Max.  After one year Max returned to Seattle, and at the time of this writing has 11 “new years” of sobriety.

Max learned from his experience with obsession a lesson that we all need to remind ourselves repeatedly in our recovery.  That lesson is:                    

In my experience, recovery:

  • is practiced over a lifetime
  • is experienced one day at a time
  • is a journey with no end point
  • is a road one walks with others

I am grateful every day for the lesson of my friend Max, who demonstrated the art of letting go, and the art of surrender.

Just a thought…


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