“Are we having fun yet?”
The opening line from the Just For Today reading posted in our WhatsApp group sounds off in my head like a siren from the days when fun was inhaled through a glass pipe, snorted through a dirty, twisted ten rand note or kicked back and swallowed with a shot of tequila. What a hoot. What a jol. “Are we having fun yet???”
But not this time. This time, the question is posed in our Narcotics Anonymous group.
Help. My name is Dave, and I’m an addict. I’ve been sober for 7 years, 20 days and some 15 hours and I have just started attending Narcotics Anonymous meetings again. No, I’m not about to fall off the wagon and turn my body into a festering, meth bug-ridden test tube again, but I need help because Things Have Not Been Going Well.
Every year around my sobriety milestone, my addiction wells up in one form or another, and threatens to derail me. Not in any real danger of scoring that gram, but enough for me to be consumed with an intense craving to disconnect, to shut the world out with that rank chemical bite.
This year was no different, thanks for asking, but this year – oh man, this year. Probably my biggest lesson yet – and 20 days and 15 hours after my milestone, a lesson that still smarts, still yearns for a massive, typically Dave response, of drama and hurtful words and trashed relationships.
Here’s the thing: I’ve had my whole world view shifted. I am questioning so many things about this journey in sobriety. Big questions, like – why am I doing it? For who? And if I stick to it, and keep off the drugs, then what? What’s the goal? Where’s my reward? Where are my five thousand Facebook likes telling me I’m a good boy.
Because isn’t that why we do what we do these days? Do a thing, broadcast it on social media? Have lunch. Snap it onto Instagram with a blown-out 1973 filter.
Take a flight. Humble-brag check in on the airport’s Facebook page.
Vomit our outrage in a rambling Twitter thread about someone else’s life stuff.
We live our lives through…no…wait. Not we. Not us. Me. Dave. My life is defined, verified, affirmed by every like, fav, heart and RT. Every comment turns me into A Real Boy, a digital Pinocchio desperately seeking real life through the love you pour into your mobile phone screen.
I tweet and you retweet, therefore I am.
But I stopped tweeting. I didn’t drop the annual “Hey, fuckers – worship me, I’ve done another year sober!” post because I told myself it’s shallow (it is) and meaningless (God, so very meaningless) and does nothing for me (it really doesn’t). I didn’t need your online approval of making it through another 365 days without shoving a bloody note up my nose.
Except…except that when 16 April rolled around and the digital world did not affirm my greatness, my Captain Recovery-ness, my whole world crumbled.
Turns out despite my bold claims, I did need you to tell me I did a good thing, Twitter. I needed you, Facebook, and you failed me.
And this frightens me, because why do I need any of you to acknowledge an arbitrary date that you may only know about because I won’t stop talking about it? It’s contrived. It’s only important to me because that is the date I managed to pull myself together enough to make a decision not to take drugs again. It’s only important to you because I tell you it is.
So is it really important?
Yes. Yes, it is. But not to you. Why should it be? It’s ONLY important to me, because I am the one who has made the decision, who makes that decision every day, and who has an accountability to do more than just not force illicit chemicals into my blood.
This is the battle that’s been raging these past 20 days. Shifting perspective. I have to accept that something can be important to me and that I am worthy enough for it to be important enough that I choose to do. And continue to choose to do. Something that is important enough to me that I don’t need its value puffed out and made bigger, more real or more serious because other adults acknowledge it.
This is the acceptance that must come at the end of this battle. That the team work, the cheers and the acknowledgment of what it took to get here over seven years must come from the people to whom this journey matters.
And that’s not my family. It’s not my friends, and it’s definitely not a bunch of strangers from the internet.
It’s the other recovering addicts sat here in this meeting with me on a Monday night, sharing their recovery. Sharing my recovery. These are the people who know, and who know why acknowledging it is important.
At the start of my journey 7 years ago, my momentum was carried by the strangers on the internet. So I know I owe them a whole lot of gratitude. But it’s not enough anymore, and it’s not fair of me to put that responsibility on people I’ve never met before. No offense, but can they really have my best interests at heart when I’m just some random digital profile?
After 7 years am I not the best person to be my own motivational speaker, my own coach and pom-pom wielder? You betcha! So, that’s what I’ll be, thank you very much. And hell, yes, I’m going to post the fuck out of this post on all the platforms. Because a really wise person (me) reminded me (myself) that sharing this stuff isn’t (just?) about me – it’s about putting a message out there that another addict might see and be inspired to take that first step into sobriety.
If you’re out there, reading this, and you’ve lost control like I did (like so many of us did) – there is a way out. All it takes is reaching out and saying “Help“.
So, 7 years and some change. Well done, me. Bloody well done. I’m so fucking proud of me.
Let the journey continue.
© Dave Luis 2019. All Rights Reserved.