Crawling Out of Hell

This demon
 Hitched a ride on my soul;
 We rode together for years,
 Hiding in the back…

Just dropped him off;
 Now I ride on -
 Alone, but free!

Hitchhiker — by Hawkeye Pete, 8/13/17, AP

I knew I had been stuck, for some time. I had no idea what I was stuck on, thanks to the lovely concept of denial. The evidence was all around me, for one who had the eyes to see.

But, when you’re in it, there is a complete lack of the vision required to see it. The mind’s eye looks for reasons everywhere else but where the problem truly lies. This way, it can keep it alive- the problem, that is.

Why would it want to do that? It’s called addiction. There doesn’t have to be a reason for it — it is what it is. It feeds on itself, sucks the life out of the individual it takes up residence in, and eventually leaves an empty carcass, once there’s nothing left to feed on, as it moves on to its next victim.

What I know, what I have learned, about addiction, through years of struggling with it, followed by surrender that allowed me to live a prosperous life free from it, is there is a way out of it.

I didn’t find my way out of it until I gave myself over to it, completely, then watched how powerfully it could destroy everything near and dear to me. That’s when I made a decision to get out, however I could, if I could, and eventually surrendered myself to something greater than the addiction, before it had completely destroyed me. It came really close, but a miracle led me to recovery. Actually, a series of miracles did that.

Fortunately, I do believe in miracles. I’ve seen them, lived them. I had a damn brain tumor that just went away, all on its own. That was a miracle, and I believe that it happened only because I believed that it could. I let it happen. I didn’t hang onto that tumor. I allowed for it to leave on its own, and so it did.

Addiction can show up in many forms — it doesn’t have to limit itself to a substance, I.e., drugs and alcohol. A form of it took up residence in my psyche, managing to avoid the effects of recovery on the rest of my addiction issues, and bided its time for many years, until I was most vulnerable. It found an opening, and began to do its thing. It slowly, cunningly, took root and spread its tendrils into everything, until I was nearly consumed by it.

Fortunately, the miracle began before I even had an inkling of the depths and power of this unwelcome form of addiction. It began with the dawning realization that the devastation was almost complete. Love helped me to see it.

The opposite of love — not hate, but indifference — had kept me blind to what was actually going on, but then love trumped indifference, a reason to love again revealed itself, cut through the fog of indifference, and found me scrambling to gain a foothold, a purchase on a solid piece of land.

Once I’d begun to wake up, then the angels started showing up. Angels in the form of good friends, friendships I had forged through my re-entry into AA a couple of years ago, friends who I felt I could trust enough to approach with my dilemma. The first one named it, right off the bat. I had not expected that, but as soon as he said it, I knew it, and I knew I had it.

Once I admitted it, to him and to another friend, who knew me very well, I knew that I might have a shot. The assurance of the first friend that I did (have a shot) certainly gave me the first ray of hope.

I admitted to him that I had thought the worst, that it was bad enough that I had had the fleeting thought to end it all. Granted, it was just fleeting, but had I stayed in it, and not reached out to someone, I know where that thought would have led. I’ve been there before, and I know that place, too well. I was only at the beginning of that slide, but it was enough to know I needed help.

So, I reached out. It’s the hardest thing for me to do — even now. Maybe, especially now. Something inside tells me I’m supposed to have it all together, because of where I’ve been and how far I’ve come. Even though I know, I only got out of that place, in the first place, because I eventually reached out, that part of me that doesn’t really want to get well keeps me from doing that which will save my ass.

All photos in this piece by me, in Hawaii in 2012, mostly in the volcanic gardens

Thank God, whatever it is in me that wants to get to the other side of this, was more powerful than the part of me that wanted to stay in that place, and ride it to the bitter end. I can only attribute it to grace. Grace picked me up and showed me the way out.

I’m not completely out, yet. I haven’t done anything in a week to feed this addiction. I’ve taken the steps I know need to be taken to gain healing and recovery from it. I’ve followed the guidance of a friend, and of a sponsor.

I know this doesn’t happen overnight. I’ve learned you have to stick around until the miracle occurs. It will take some time before the damage this form of addiction has caused, can begin to heal. I’m certainly not “feeling” it yet. But, I know it’s there. I know I can’t do this myself. I live in hope. I hope that’s enough. Either way — I’m in.

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