Radiant beams burst through the windows reviving me from my mystic and dreamy condition. Rubbing my eyes, I gaze around the room and submit to the comforting realization that I’m still snuggly embedded in the residence of my treatment center, ideally placed amidst the extensively sought after climate of sunny Southern California. As a northeast native, palm trees alone give me the distinct feeling that I’m now living in a tropical paradise, although the streets of this town can contradict that Eden-like environment some days. The circumstances of our community this morning also contradict this netherworld disguised as a promise land. When I arrive at the main facility, utopia is greeted by tragedy. My ravishing surroundings don’t match a disheartened energy emanating from the unusual presence of management outside and immediately, I sense something is wrong; which is further supported when we are hoarded into the cafeteria and a majority of the room is now beside themselves, tears flowing and heads down, buried in rugged hands. Mournfully, the inevitable announcement is made by the head director confirming that our disease won again; claiming another life in the relentless, diabolical fashion its grown so accustomed to. It’s the sad reality of this journey to recover. The longer I stick around, the more this becomes commonplace; almost routine; an adverse side effect of the cards I was dealt being predisposed to a daily fight for survival. Death is always in the mix.
Not all of us can successfully elude the mighty hand of this malady that enslaves us; it’s comforting lure; the mastery of its deception and ultimate goal to cease the beating of our once spirited hearts. Just as we can never quench our thirstiness to please this uninvited beast, it’s undoubtedly not entirely satisfied itself, fallaciously tempting us until we draw our final breath – far before our lifespan would and should allow. Some of us have reached the point where we have fully conceded to the enemy and started to learn a new way of life; living free and keeping our demons at bay through seeking a power greater than ourselves and working with others; incorporating personal devotion and daily awareness into our routines. Some of us continually bounce back and forth between active addiction and recovery, which inevitably gets consistently worse each and every time we go back out; as well as becomes increasingly more difficult to pursue recovery when we come to terms with the unavoidable collapse of our lives once again. Some of us have permanently lost the battle altogether which, much to our dismay, is a painful truth ever reminding those of us that carry on how we are not immortal creatures; that life is fragile, this disease is deadly, and we are not invincible like we incessantly love to misinform ourselves. Those that have fallen victim are a substantial testament to this truth.
As much as these tragic occasions go so often misunderstood by society at large and the loved ones directly affected, I comprehend the inner workings of a mind that succumbs to that draconian disconnect; the mediocre march of merely existing in time and space feeling no other purpose than to be absent of self and numb to everything else. After all, our minds are virtually identical when it comes to the use of mind altering substances. Every time I hear of a new loss within our community, I experience a range of emotions anywhere from sadness and frustration to jealousy and envy. I think about how they are finally in a better place; serene at last and free from the fight – a place I so often dream of being. On the contrary, I enjoy the experiences of life and to this day I haven’t met anybody in the world of addiction that doesn’t have the potential to live a life free from the constant turmoil, wreckage, and negative consequences that come with remaining active. It’s essentially a race against time. We have to be open and willing to change before the reaper comes to town. If we’re not, it’s game over – no more binges; no more runs; no more chances to get it right – that finality is permanent and we no longer have any credits left. Today, I pray that the sick and suffering will soon see the light and embrace this potential once in a lifetime opportunity for recovery.