Like a lot of people, I used to consider this disease a penalty. I didn’t understand the first rule of survival: what doesn’t kill you…can make you unforgettable! I have a tendency to overestimate the power of the negative and ignore the potential of hope, health and heart. I have always been a glass totally empty kind of guy. If there is no light at the end of the tunnel, I never have to get on the train, you know? Failure without effort. A shortcut to unsuccessful is a coward’s way. And I am that coward. I’m not judgin’, I’m just sayin’. It takes work to remind myself that I matter every day. Effort without excuses.
Somewhere along the way, I was given another chance, and another, and another until I stopped counting the opportunities I had wasted and started using the only chance I needed. THIS one. How many times had something wonderful happened to me when I wasn’t looking? While I was engaged in self-centered pursuit of my wants? Thousands?
I cannot tell you how many times I was told that I had talent or potential and THAT kept me convinced that I had nothing to live for. If I am homeless and unemployed and panhandling and drunk and unavailable…I still have something. Potential. In fact, my first thought is “the lower I get, the more growth and potential I actually have, right?”
Sounds funny now, considering what I do for a living, but I was dead serious about the fact that I was worthless and nobody wanted to be around me anyway, so why try? And then I had to ask myself a question (I still ask this on occasion): of all the things that I have lost in my life; friend, jobs, self esteem, finances, homes, opportunities. How much of that was actually lost…and how much of that did I give away? Healthy people hold things of value near and dear. Addicted people like me DONATE back to the universe.
We would rather be apart from everything than a part of anything!
In the last few years (20) I have been given extraordinary attention, work, significance, power, relationships, connections and strength. I have always struggled with my ability to use these gifts well, for the greater good instead of my own satisfaction. I have an amazing talent for using tools as weapons. Intelligence, focus, drive, stamina, charisma, awareness, cunning, resilience. The list of skills for an addict/alcoholic is endless! What do I DO with them? That depends upon my motives. Healthy motives=positive performance. Selfish motives=wreckage of the present, more amends, debt, guilt and loss. Imagine a hammer. Healthy people will take that hammer and use it to build, mend, or create. I will hold it tight, turn it backward and threaten to drive it into your skull unless you give me what I want!! So, it isn’t the hammer’s fault. It’s the user that determines whether the hammer will become tool or weapon. My gifts are also my curses, until I shift my motives and think past my first thought: ME!
When it comes right down to platinum tacks (better than brass) everything I have today is a direct result of my addiction. My work, wife, child and life are promises I can keep, if I keep the promises I make. Weapons turned into tools, guilt turned into gifts, sins are strengths and this disease is no longer a penalty. It is a privilege.