Before I learned about Step 4 I more identified with Bono when he sang the famous lines, “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.”
An addict is a professional seeker. A glorified searcher. We search for anything that will numb pain. These “drugs” we use to medicate only make us sicker. It is a cold, cruel irony. The reality is that the only way pain can be relieved, the only way to make it stop, is to feel it. We have to face it head on and deal with it. Its really as simple as a little league coach telling his scrawny little shortstop that if he wants to hit the ball he can’t be afraid of it. He has to stand in, face fear, take a risk of getting beaned and swing away!
Earlier today I had to do just that. Its not easy sharing your ten most painful memories involving your father to your therapist. What I learned by doing it though is that it made me stronger. I am a better person now that I have re-lived those painful memories. I opened up my heart and let God in there. In turn, I was able to release a lot of pain, shame, fear, and resentment.
I saw a video the other day of a young boy waking up from getting a heart transplant. In a raw and passionate state of mind he tearfully says, “I’m so happy. I’ve been waiting for so long. I can breathe now.” Wow. I can totally relate!
About two hours after my therapy session, or as I like to call it – heart surgery, I went to a meeting. Group share time was great as always but tonight was a little different. We had two new-comers (which is pretty odd lately) and the ages ranged from 20 to 68. Pretty much all addictions were represented. Sobriety ranged from 1 day to 3 years. Hipsters, former hippies, Generation X’r’s and an old dude that has been an alcoholic for 50 years. Doctors, film makers, entrepreneurs, teachers and students. To an outsider we would appear to be very different. But we are the same. We are addicts and we have devoted most of our lives to searching. We have spent many years searching in the wrong places. But now we are all willing to start a new search. We are searching ourselves without fear. We are more desperate than when we wanted “the Big Fix.” We know that this search will involve pain. We know it but we embrace it.
“In many ways sobriety is more painful than addiction.” – Recovering alcoholic (sober 27 years)
Don’t misunderstand – I haven’t pushed some hokey magic button and now I enjoy experiencing pain. Pain is still pain. It sucks. But what I love is the feeling right after the pain. Instead of being consumed with guilt and shame right after acting out, I now enjoy true relief and healing after facing the pain of the past. It’s a much healthier combination. Plus it doesn’t perpetuate a vicious cycle of addiction – which is nice.
Addiction recovery really is all about healing one’s heart. If you try to stop using without treating the real disease you will never be cured. But once your heart begins to mend, begins to feel again – thats when true sobriety begins.