What Can Recovery Do For Me?
There's an old Jack Benny bit where a mugger jumps out of the bushes and says, "Your money or your life." Benny just stands there doing nothing until the mugger gets irate and shouts, "I said, 'Your money or your life!'" Finally Benny snaps back, "I'm thinking. I'm thinking."
I am an addict. For me, giving up my addiction is like Jack Benny giving up his money. If you tell me, "Your object of desire or your life," my answer is, "I'm thinking. I'm thinking."
Let me explain to you what it means - to me - to be a recovering addict. Repeated experience has made it abundantly clear that I can either have everything I ever wanted out of life OR I can have the object of my desire. I can't have both. If I work my program of recovery, all my dreams come true. If I have one drink/bite/look, I turn my life into a living hell. But that's not what makes me an addict. What makes me an addict is that - for me - that's actually a tough call to make.
I suppose that since I am in recovery it means that, in the end, I keep deciding that my life is more important to me than my addiction. But that's not a decision that I arrive at without a great deal of daily deliberation. Whenever I am distressed - or sometimes even for no reason at all - I contemplate whether or not I should just at out and let all of the chips fall where they may. After indulging this perverse fantasy for a while, I ultimately decide that it's not a decision I'm prepared to make - not because I wouldn't like to, but because I can't live with the consequences. I know that I will just end up in so much pain that I will have to give up and - if I don't die or go insane first - go back to recovery again anyway. So I choose life. But it's not an instinctive choice. That's how messed up I am. Are you beginning to understand?
Why do I act out?
You know why I act out? I act out because it takes me away from "me." I don't like being "me." Not that I think I would be any happier being someone else, but I definitely don't like being "me." I like numbness. Mental numbness. My mind goes so fast. My brain won't shut up. The thoughts produce feelings faster than my puny heart can bear. My addiction takes care of that. Acting out quiets the "me" and the less "me" there is, the better I feel. When I am really good and drunk, I have these beautiful moments where, suddenly, it doesn't even hurt so much to be "me."
In recovery I have learned that I can get from my relationship with G-d everything that I ever wanted to get out of my addiction. When I give myself up to G-d, it doesn't hurt so much anymore to be "me."
I guess that's really why I stay sober. I know that I said earlier it's because I am afraid of the misery and insanity and death that my acting out would bring. But that's not the real reason. Misery and insanity and death just aren't big enough deterrents to keep an addict like me sober very long. They might be able to scare me straight for a while, but they're not enough to keep me sober day after day. No, the real reason I stay sober is because all I ever wanted from acting out I can get from my relationship with G-d.
And do you know what it was that I wanted out of acting out? Acting out promised that if I could just get rid of "me" long enough, then in that quiet, I would somehow finally be "me."
This is the truth that I've found ~ real life begins when you learn to love G-d with the very heart that loves to act out.