“The facility for viewing one’s life as a narrative may be what’s missing in addiction… Addicts experience something breathtaking when they can stretch their vision of themselves from the immediate present back to the past that shaped them and forward to a future that’s attainable and satisfying… It feels like being the author and advocate of one’s own life. It feels like being real… The many addicts who end up quitting do so uniquely and inventively, through effort and insight. Thus quitting is best seen as further development, not “recovery” from a disease.” – From Marc Lewis’s book Biology of Desire
I realized something the other day that was an epiphany of sorts. As I approach 100 days of sobriety, I can honestly say that I probably never would have made it this far if it weren’t for my blog.
I have always been someone who takes awhile to digest information. It has to sit and stew for awhile. I am horrible at arguments because I always think of the perfect response a couple of days later, after I’ve had a chance to really ponder all the possibilities. I need to examine things from many different angles before formulating a response or opinion. Think before I speak, even if it makes me appear like a dullard during debates.
That’s why writing is such a great outlet for me. I am writing in an almost stream of consciousness when I start. But then, I begin actually thinking about the words issuing forth, indiscriminately spilling out onto the blank page. I may pause to think about a certain paragraph for a few moments before I continue. Is that an accurate description of my feelings? Do I really believe that, or am I just trying to be funny? Why has this started out as one particular thing, and ended up being something completely different? Will saying that make it incredibly obvious how weird I really am?
I also never publish anything without sleeping on it first. I used to do that because I might wake up to some nonsensical, drunken word vomit that I had considered brilliant prose the night before. Now I do it because I want to re-examine my thoughts in a different light, and from a fresh perspective.
And when I do, I always find something to change, add or delete. Re-reading, editing, and then reading again reinforces this knowledge. It puts thoughtful reflection on an even playing field with muscle memory. Circumspection over compulsion.
Writing – sorting out my thoughts by composing posts on the many difficulties, rewards, and revelations experienced so far in my recovery journey – has helped me to make sense of it all. More than that even – I think it has actually allowed me to begin healing my addicted, Pavlovian brain.
Often, writing about my recovery has churned out uncomfortable memories and occasional feelings of shame. But it has also given me a certain power to confront things in my own time, and in a manner that feels natural to me. I am much more comfortable and forthcoming using by blog as a vehicle to share my story and confront my demons, than I am speaking to a room full of anonymous strangers.
When I write, I get to make sure I decide what topic I am ready to discuss, and which ones I can’t yet confront. I get to make sure I speak my own, unique truth, and am not just saying what I think other people want to hear. And the biggest get of all? I get to figure all of this shit out just a tiny bit more – chipping away at the albatross of alcoholism – one sentence at a time.