The hopelessness of addiction is sad to watch in someone. I was talking to one of my neighbors recently and he told me he had just left a rehab for his addiction about nine days ago and two days after he left the rehab he used again. I could see the fear, hopelessness and self loathing on his face and I could only offer him platitudes. I said the usual things like keep trying and you are sober today but we both knew he probably wouldn’t be sober by nighttime. If he did manage to stay sober all day it would be a struggle with the devil himself to not use and that is just as hard as actually using. The day to day struggle to not use drugs is like being surrounded by black flies in May. It is relentless and you can think of nothing else. We tell ourselves all the reasons we want to stay sober and that works for about 15 minutes before we again are fighting with the demon that is addiction. It is exhausting and depressing.
Lately I have been thinking about what is this power that addiction has over us. I have never seen anything so powerful in my life. Yet as I wrote this last sentence I was reminded that there is actually One who does have more power than addiction. The problem with God is that He is so much quieter than addiction. He does not badger us. He waits quietly until we turn to Him and yet He doesn’t make it easy for us to make that turn.
Alcoholics and addicts have always looked for the easy way out. We live in the moment and are totally controlled by every emotion that comes at us. We absolutely hate feeling bad about anything. We want instant gratification for every issue we have. We self-medicate and we don’t want to do the work to stay sober if it involves being uncomfortable in any way. How often I have lamented during hard times,” I don’t what to do with how I am feeling”. When it has been suggested to me that I just have to sit with the bad feelings and they will pass, I object loudly. I am in awe of people who take what life throws at them quietly knowing it will eventually be better.
Maybe it wasn’t just platitudes I offered my neighbor because I do believe that if we keep fighting for sobriety regardless of relapse we will one day be that sober person. Alcoholics Anonymous says it is progress not perfection. If we keep our eyes on the prize that is sobriety hopelessness doesn’t have to be our constant companion.