(the first post in this series is here: On Being A Social Outcast )
Something profoundly wonderful has happened to me of late. It started in 1980 when I gave up my primary addiction – alcohol. Not long after I got sober, I began to lean very heavily on junk (flour/sugar) foods to distance myself from the agony of life without booze. I knew that doing the food thing was not good, but I was in so much emotional angst that I couldn’t stop myself. Two years into the agony of giving up this primary addiction, I had my first experience with your Christian God who (through the person of Jesus Christ) got through to me, in a very powerful way, how much He deeply, profoundly, and unconditionally, loved me. And He gave me the Holy Spirit in a very palpable way.
After this happened, for the last few decades, I have been praying to God for the strength to worship no other idols before Him. I knew that I was using food as an idol and I knew it was wrong in that it was keeping me distanced from God. And I did not want that. Somehow I knew, in my heart of hearts, that having a direct line to God, with absolutely nothing in between us, would aid me immensely in my quest for recovery from an intense psychic pain I couldn’t identify the source of, nor begin to dismantle.
Up to very recently, however, I thought He’d been ignoring this prayer. But now I can see that, ever so slowly, the answer to this prayer has been slowly unfolding.
In 1997 God tore me free from suicide obsession (an idol I didn’t know I was worshiping). Then, as you know, last August I was (with the help of a sponsor in Overeaters Anonymous) able to give up my alcoholic (sugar/flour) foods entirely. A few months after that, it was the cigarettes. The cigarettes were easy to give up because I’d begun to get on a roll. It started to dawn on me that I might finally be getting my hearts desire – to be able to turn to no other ‘gods’ on this earth – besides God Himself.
What began to dawn on me, that got me so fired up, and which made it so easy to give up the cigarettes, was that I could see that, by releasing all my addictions and obsessions, I would finally be clear-headed enough to see plainly ‘the exact nature of what was wrong with me’ (the AA big book describes it as ‘the exact nature of our wrongs’). I knew I had a lot of stuff wrong with me, but the problem was that this ‘stuff’ was so tangled that I couldn’t get a good look at it to see what the source of the problem actually was.
Well, about five or six weeks ago, I experienced a terrible crisis that I refused to run away from by using any addictions or obsessions. The turmoil this crisis churned up, brought with it a light. With the help of this light, I found myself beginning to see more clearly ‘the problem’. Under this light, the thing that has been wrong with me all my life, began to slowly show itself in a very concrete form.
Then after that, a little bit at a time, I began to move through a ‘process’ of huge emotional displacements and re-arrangements. As I trudged through the ordeal with no addictions or obsessions, things began to pop and buzz inside my brain.
It was then that I made a conscious decision.
I decided to fully allow myself to move through all the popping and buzzing resulting from the ordeal and not to run away in fear by using any of my calming chemicals or obsessive behaviors. I decided to just allow things (mental and emotional gyrations) to freely run their course without trying to manipulate what was happening inside, in any way. I also realized that the journey I was about to go on would be mostly a solo one, as I felt-knew that I could not afford to give anyone else the opportunity to try to manipulate what was going on either. I needed to give the emotions full range of motion… to go anywhere and everywhere they needed to go… with absolutely no encumbrances. I would only serve as observer, going along for the ride of my life.
As I’m looking back on it, for last 5-6 weeks it’s been like riding on Space Mountain (the Disney Land roller coaster in pitch blackness). It’s been crazy – up and down, left and right, – with no clue as to where I’d be emotionally headed next. I decided to view it as ‘the ride of my life’ while, at the same time, trusting that it wasn’t actually real. That it was only a ride and that it wasn’t going to kill me – that eventually I’d find the light of day again. My hope was that, if I stayed put in my seat on the ride, that after it was over, I’d be on the ‘other side’ of it – a side I was hoping would be wholeness and recovery. If you want to read about the ride, all the posts I’ve written after the one I linked above, have been about going on this hairy ride.
I don’t know if the ride is over yet. Really, I don’t think any of us truly gets off of it until we’re dead. But I think I’ve gotten through the worst and scariest part and am beginning to make out some daylight. I think I can see some sanity on the horizon. For the very first time in my life I’ve begun to feel some real and authentic… peace.
The next post in this series is here: It’s A Strange New World