when the steps don’t work

or: my manifesto.

take_a_step_forward_by_janis44As most of you know, my past is not of an addict: I have never been an alcoholic and I have never used drugs. Or, haven’t I?

Because I have been smoking cigarettes for most of my life, until I finally quit.

Have I ever considered myself an addict, while smoking? Yes, always.

Do I consider myself an ex-addict now? No.

Do I label myself someone in recovery from nicotine addiction? Nope.

Do I have cravings now, do I ever want a fag? Yes, and no.

Let me put it bluntly and straightaway: it does not matter what you use and it does not matter how much of it you are using. it is the reason that makes you an addict.

You can be using alcohol, drugs of any sort, porn, gambling, shopping, chocolate, scrolling you Facebook timeline, or playing Candy Crush Saga, or co-dependency : you are addicted to an emotion, the desire to disappear and stop the pain. You could be drinking one glass of wine only, and still you won’t go out of the house if you don’t have that one glass… You are just employing different means to stop THAT pain, to face THAT hurt, to feel THAT emotion. What you miss is a comforting sense of belonging, a sense of real identity, of knowing who you are and what the hell are you supposed to be doing on this planet, here, and now, with your life. That’s the fear: that this whole journey you are doing is, in the end, pointless. And: why the fuck am I suffering so much? And: what have I done so wrong in my life to deserve this? And: this is it, it has always been like this, and nothing will ever change, and no one will ever come to change it (i.e. to help me), at least my [buddies] understand me.

Your [buddies] understand you because they feel the same pain, and they don’t admit it not even with themselves. So, next time you are drinking, shooting up, watching porn: think about the pain. For once. That’s all I am asking: think about the pain, and realise that 1. that pain is not going to kill you; 2. that you can change what you think and how you feel about the pain.

So, what are you going to do about it? Not your family, your mates, the NHS, your friends, your therapist, your mentor and sponsors, or me sitting in front of this keyboard now. What are YOU going to do about YOUR pain?

And do you know why I am asking this question? Because

YOU ARE IN CHARGE.

You are never powerless, impotent, ineffective, helpless, inadequate, defenceless, feeble, weak and useless.

So, shall we talk about your new found addiction, the meetings? For how long do you want to be considered an ex-addict? For how long do you want to keep on celebrating your anniversaries? How many times do you want to stand up and introduce yourself as ‘someone in recovery’?

Don’t get me wrong, meetings are great: you meet people, you talk to people, people call you and text you, and it fells like a big family who understands you. You found your sense of belonging. And your identity, the comfort of this identity given by the label of: an ex-addict, in recovery, an alcoholic. And like the prodigal son, should you ever relapse, they are ready to take you back and offer you a brew. And maybe, you have decided to ‘give back’ to the community which has helped you so much.

Let me ask you a question: has that pain gone away? Has your dream, as a little kid, always been to work in recovery? Oh, I can feel your grey cells now coming up with all the ‘right justifications’ of why you should be doing what you are doing: your kids, your family, you have been a bad boy in the past, or a bad girl, you are receiving sooooo much now, you have to give back and help others. Well, let me tell you: this might not be you, the real you; this will create frustration and resentment, and this is what is going to take you straight to relapse: the word SHOULD. Which means that you have learned nothing, and you have simply swapped addiction. Out with the drug, in with the meetings.

Are you thinking now that you should stop the meetings straightaway, Just because I wrote something? Like, from tonight? Nope, wrong answer. Go to your meeting, and use them to find out who you really are. Go to meetings, and for once listen to that little nagging voice within you: what is it saying? Go to meetings, and to therapy. Go to meetings, and back to college. Go to meetings, and then one night don’t go, without feeling ‘I should be going there’. Go to meetings, and change location. Go to meetings, stand up and say: “Hello, my name is XYZ and I am NOT powerless. And actually I can tell you a nice little story: I feel fully in charge of my faculties and I choose not to use.”

Go to meetings, and when/if they ask you to pledge allegiance to a Higher Power, ask yourself where is this HP located. Don’t get me wrong: I am a believer. I am all up for spirituality and religion. But I am not a piece of velcro stuck there following the bandwagon because I am desperately lonely, and in pain. Religion has been too often labelled as the opium of the people. (thank you K. Marx). The OPIUM, a drug. Hence, what’s your reason for going to church now every Sunday or pray every morning? Because you do believe in Jesus, or do you believe in what your [buddy] told you, of what his [buddy] told him before and instead of thinking with your own head and staying with your pain, getting to know your hurt and learning to love yourself, you’d rather go out with people who “understand you” (while your mind can only think about how to avoid the pain, and if-this-churchy-thing-has-helped-others-because-look-at-them-they-all-seem-happy-it-will-definitely-help-me-otherwise-if-it’s-not-working-what’s-wrong-with-me-because-I-should-be-feeling-better-I-should-be-fixed…)

The steps are not the solutions. Meetings are not the solutions.

{Philosophy, spirituality, and psychotherapy} all together work because ONLY change work. Only learning to stay in a dark room by yourself and your thoughts and your shadow, and your petty little mean thoughts and pain and resentment and frustration, help. Growing up, helps. Taking full responsibility, helps.

Happiness does not help, because happiness is only a mood so stop chasing a mood.

Take a step in a different direction and start looking for your Self.

It starts now.

It starts here.

It starts with you.

 

PS: for the ones who while reading all of the above could not stop thinking “yes, but she is not an addict, she has never been one, she does not understand what it means, she doesn’t get it, my life has been hell, you don’t understand, my story is different, let me tell you what happened to me…” and this is still your running commentary now: please, go to meetings. And know that there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s your journey, and I wish you all the happiness and support you can find.

If instead you want to know more, you want to hear a different point of view, try something different, and you want to push your boundaries and really change, for good, knowing that it’s not going to be easy but that, at the same time, you can do it, you know the drill: get in touch!

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