What comes to mind when you hear or read the word “insane”?
I think of someone in an asylum stumbling around in a heavily sedated stupor.
I think of a criminal using it as a defense in order to avoid incarceration.
I think of the age-old definition that states, “When we do something repeatedly expecting different results.”
That last one. That is the one that sums me up perfectly. During one of my first SA meetings I was confronted with this word. A guy was sharing and mentioned that his “addict brain” was indeed insane and that without his Higher Power he would always be insane.
“Uhhh that’s weird.” I thought. “I am not like him; I’m not crazy!”
After learning, reflecting and meditating I have arrived at a very humble yet accurate conclusion. Yes, I am indeed an insane person. All addicts are actually. If they think they are not then they haven’t worked the first step: denial.
Another wise man told me recently that addicts actually have a dual mind. We essentially have a split personality. There is our normal, rational mind (sanity) and we have our abnormal, irrational mind (insanity). The two are like oil and water. They cannot co-exist. The trick is to train yourself to listen to the right one. Addicts historically have listened to the insane brain so much that they are basically powerless over their addiction. They cannot manage their compulsions. They have become insane.
So back to the definition that rings true for me. No rational person would keep going back to something that ultimately made them feel dirty, empty and guilty. No normal, married man that has a beautiful and loving wife and two amazing children chooses a deadly habit over spending valuable time with the former. That is insane, right?
Fleeing the Scene of Insanity
Last Friday night I experienced something new that I hope I never experience again. We traveled across town and played one of our rival schools in basketball. We lost by one in overtime in front of a packed house. It was an absolute heart-breaking loss.
Losing by one at the buzzer to a rival on the road is not a new experience for me. The new experience came about midway through the 3rd quarter. The game mysteriously stopped and the refs instructed both teams to go to their benches. The coaches were perplexed and confused and looked around for some sort of clock problem or something. Seconds later a very large man who I assumed was a school administrator came over the gym microphone and announced the following, “Ladies and gentlemen we are in lockdown. No one can go in or out of the gym until the police instruct us to do so.”
My heart raced and fear came over me. All we really knew for sure is that no one could leave. We had no idea why. It would later be known that during halftime a young man who had been watching the game went outside and had an altercation with two other young men. It escalated quickly and the first man (a 23 year old) was shot and the other two immediately fled the scene. Unfortunately the shot would be fatal.
We were able to finish the game, have a very brief moment with the team in the locker room afterwards and were escorted to our cars by police. That was a crazy scene let me tell you! I am a fast walker normally but that night I think I would have won a gold medal in speed walking. As I breezed by people to get to my car so I could leave the media-infested, police-controlled crime scene (yellow tape and all) behind, I noticed a few of my players in the parking lot. They were not panicked. They were not speed walking. They were not even walking at all. They were just hanging out like nothing had happened. I was dumbfounded.
As I drove home trying to process everything that had just transpired, it occurred to me that my definition of normalcy does not always align with what is normal to my players. They live in that kind of environment, I do not. They are used to shootings, I am definitely not. They have become so desensitized that someone being shot and killed outside a school has become a “normal” neighborhood activity.
I remember in vivid detail telling people for the first time about my past actions. I revealed in total honesty the extent of my sins and my addiction. Admitting these things out loud to the people I cared about was pretty scary but it was also really telling about the progression that had taken place inside of me. Most were shocked (even though my true friends didn’t pass judgment) and it made me understand how far my morality had shifted and how desensitized to my sin I had become. It was scary. Here I was attempting to be normal like everyone around me but the reality is I had given into my insanity years ago and was pretending to operate under the normal mind. I would go to church, go to work, go on vacation, go to guys night out, spend time with my kids – all the things a normal guy does.
But then there was a dark side and it had a stronger hold than those other relationships, activities and hobbies. I was hooked deep with no hope of breaking free. I had given into the insanity. My confession to those around me was my very first step toward recovery. It was like the first step of a baby. Wobbly, unsure but groundbreaking and life-changing.
Same song, Different dance
I listened to one of my favorite songs from my teenage years the other night and boy did it really apply to my life as an addict. It’s called “In The Light” and it perfectly sums up where I am right now.
Please click play and listen to this powerful song and picture an addict who has finally reached the point of wanting to be free. Someone who has tried to control the disease or manage the disease and failed every time. Someone who is tired of giving in to the insanity and is desperate to fully give themselves to the One who can heal them.
Listen to it and picture someone like me.