Just like with drugs and alcohol, it seems to be a natural part of my character that until I have exhausted every other possible means of doing something, tried out every tiny, mad idea about how I can manage on my own power to get my life to work out the way I want it to, entertained every lurking notion my ego can generate, and laid waste to every reservation disguised by unwillingness, I am incapable of surrendering that part of my life to the Higher Power and the principles that got me sober. I simply do not surrender unless I have failed in every possible way I can think of.
The fact that I’m a pretty smart guy does not help. I can almost always think of another thing I haven’t tried. This kind of failure to learn seems to be particularly pronounced in amphetamine addicts, like me. Recent research shows that stimulant dependence is a state dominated by habit-based learning, in which a response is made irrespective of associated outcomes. (Mann, 2003) Is it any wonder, then, that recovery can be so difficult?
My own experience is that when I was done with dope, I was done. Taking the dope away really only leaves me with a problem with living that I was only able to obliterate by using. For the first 18 months of my recovery now (coming up on the 15th of July), I have been cruising along of a cloud of “ain’t it grand the wind stopped?” while every other area of my life is in the same or similar state of calamity it was in before I stopped.
What that looks like right now is that I haven’t worked in over two months. I am out of money. I have food stamps so I’m not starving. The federal “economic stimulus package” check I was counting on to pay my rent for July hasn’t arrived. My phone is shut off. After Tuesday I’m not sure if I will have pulled yet another rabbit out of the hat or if I’ll be moving to the mission. I’ve seen this coming for over a month now and for over a month all I’ve managed to do is hide in bed. At 18 months sober, I have resisted doing anything to fix the problem and lacked either the willingness or the ability to apply the solution that got me sober to the problems of my everyday life. Before yesterday, I was either unwilling or unable to honestly recognize the problem for what it is or to ask for help.
The good news about situations like this is that they are huge opportunities to grow. When I reach a bottom like this it usually means that I have exhausted every other avenue of trying things my way so completely that I never have to return to them. Wisdom, for me, comes not from making a mistake, but from making every mistake.
I’m not especially happy with any of the outcomes that I can predict at the moment. Actually, I’m pretty miserable and I have been for some time. But I know that my view is limited. I’m not especially happy about the actions I have to take in the immediately future, particularly calling my landlord. I dread stuff like this. I’m willing to take action now, though, and any action, even the wrong action, is better than no action at all. My recovery requires an unremitting willingness to shoulder whatever responsibilities lie ahead, and the active application of the principles I try to live by (honesty, hope, faith, courage, integrity, willingness, humility, love, accountability, etc.).