Addicts and alcoholics such as myself are extremely resourceful and clever people; the gift of desperation can work for or against us depending on state of mind or, more importantly, spiritual condition. The following are merely a couple examples of how I, myself, and other addicts I’ve met along my journey have supported the habit. With that being said, how we did it is not really the point of what I’m driving at.
They are found in neighborhoods throughout the country; undersized and red; mostly disregarded or neglected; never in the forefront of busy minds traversing through daily life – work, kids, bills, friends, family, and the list goes on. They are positioned up or down depending on the situation; their unvarnished intention to notify postal workers of outgoing mail – and what is generally mailed out from homes? Payments for various personal bills and expenses so, consequently, these indicators also dispatch the same information to criminals and identity thieves looking for a score. Now, this was never my hustle, but I have heard scores of testimonies about the triggering effect these seemingly harmless red flags have on the drastically desperate addict or alcoholic consumed with obtaining the next fix; even to the point where cruising through a neighborhood on the prowl for upright red flags becomes an entire addiction in and of itself. The prime targets are obviously checks, gift cards, and even cash if folks are naïve enough to send it snail mail – checks seem to be the most frequent find and its surprisingly somewhat simple to execute check fraud once the check is in the wrong hands – all it allegedly requires is a little sandpaper, a pen, and some balls to go through with it. I’m certainly no expert in the business, but I imagine there are all sorts of other ways that it can be done as well – this is purely the version I’ve heard.
Getting back to my own lunacy…
As I retreated from laying my soldiers to rest in the dumpster of the high school across the street, I schemed and analyzed – thinking of anything or anyway I could diminish my distress; this unrelenting, incessant desperation digging deeper by the minute; by the second; completely overtaken as my head relays to itself an urgency; deprivation has become a threat to my survival – it’s out of my control, the power of choice stripped away. The hour of insanity draining little drops of liquor into a medicine cup was, for all intents and purposes, just a teaser – undisputedly igniting the over-powering phenomenon of craving; it was alive and in full force. Distraught and on edge, I paced the kitchen when all of a sudden it hit me like a sack of bricks. Out of all the fucked up things I’ve engineered, plotted and carried out over the years to support my addiction, what popped in my head that night was the lowest – at least it was to me – from a moral standpoint; hell – just from a human being standpoint. But nonetheless my mind was foggy and overridden by selfish desires so I walked towards the kid’s room, slowly and quietly, every effort and measure taken not to wake them. I turned the doorknob and peered in – two sleeping children; just what I wanted. I slid in, shut the door behind me, and laid cold, dead eyes on the target of this mission. The Spiderman nightlight provided just enough glow to guide the way while also reminding me that I was preparing to army crawl through an innocent child’s bedroom in pursuit of a piggy bank; I had become desperate enough to commandeer quarters from my five-year old. No words; no justification – just shame and guilt and remorse. Addiction in its cruelest hour.
I’ve also manipulated people in my family for money, sold valuable belongings to pawn shops, and cashed out gift cards; all pretty typical in the world of addiction. I’ve heard stories anywhere from folks selling drugs to selling their bodies on the streets of wherever it is they came from – the desperation factor is incredibly strong when it comes to getting that fix; that tiny taste of relief I talked about – soon to demand it again, and again, and again – where does it end? I work and scheme and think and plot; I plan well in advance; I deceive others; I fool myself; it rents space in my head from the moment I wake up until I pass out into oblivion; and even then it haunts me in my dreams – the effort it takes; it’s an extraordinary undertaking when I really think about all the time and energy it takes to keep an addiction active and alive; all the willingness I had in me to chase bottle after bottle. It’s commonly agreed upon in treatment centers around America that if we, as addicts and alcoholics, would put a fraction of that energy towards recovery, our chances of successfully remaining clean and sober would significantly increase; yet we continue to relapse, and at a rather alarming rate – why is there virtually all the willingness in the world towards killing ourselves via substances, yet virtually none to break free of the bondage and actually live?
This is the question I desperately want an answer for, but I still haven’t found – I’m not sure there is an answer…that I want to hear that is; maybe I’m wired wrong and I’ll leave it at that – it could be something greater than just that alone. The Big Book conveys a message somewhere to the effect of no human power having the ability to relieve our alcoholism; we suffer from a spiritual malady; in which we need a spiritual solution. I don’t like that answer, I don’t like that solution; it’s not tangible; I can’t see it – it’s too hard for me to reason with, or analyze, or the number of other ways in which I want to find that easier, softer way. I want to fix this myself, but I am human, and all I have is human power which suggests that no matter what I try, no matter how hard I try it – I will never fix this myself; it’s literally impossible and it’s one of the biggest resentments I have in my life – it tears me up, I crumble over and over at its mighty hand. I know all this; the information is in my head, and after everything I have put myself through, I still yearn to find a different way. I despise doing things that are difficult, and recovering from active alcoholism is exactly that; it’s my big white whale. If my hustle doesn’t change, I never will – this cycle of bringing about still more and more pain will continue with no care or regard for me and my life. Actions speak louder than words – the cliché thing to say I know, but it’s true – conceding that I cannot do this by myself and putting all my knowledge of this disease into action will be the hardest thing I ever do this lifetime.