For many years my life in addiction was surreal. It was dreamlike—and a very bad one at times. As I look back at those days I realize that a fundamental part of the problem was that I didn’t take my life very seriously. I wouldn’t have admitted it at the time but the fact remains that my behavior demonstrated clearly that I wasn’t taking seriously the valuable gift of life I had been given.
I took extraordinary risks that put me and others in jeopardy.
And yet, amongst the chaos and insanity of my addiction I still had an expectation that the world should take me seriously—as though I had some unique and special insight about life. I was delusional. At the center of this delusion was the loss of any connection to a greater purpose within the world around me. I had become an outsider to the world, beastly in my primary concern for meeting my own hedonistic desires and needs. Addiction had taken over my sensibility, the understanding and acceptance of my validity and place in relation to others that allowed me to remain connected to life. In the midst of the confusion resided the fateful knowledge of the unspoken truth of my loss of personhood and its ultimate undercurrent of death. An implicit yet unstated awareness of the direction I was headed and its inevitable end result.
Despite all my claims of “living large” or enjoying the “high life” I knew that in fact I was dying.
The dualism of this reality, the veneer of an outrageous party lifestyle and false freedom of lawlessness could never reconcile with the tragedy of my undeniable downward spiral. In those dark desperate and lonely moments of clarity the dread of my addiction cut past the bravado of my rhetoric and coldly grasped my heart with the clammy hands of doom. In recovery I’ve learned that until I take my life seriously, valuing how I conduct myself, certainly no one else will—or should. The acceptance of the spiritual reality of my life in the greater scheme of the world helps me place a value on how I live each day. It forces me to review and come to grips with the ultimate question of how I choose to live given that my death is inevitable. It drives me towards an acceptance and understanding of a vitally important truth. I am, in my brief life, an important custodian and participant within the great cycle of humanity and that my contributions, no matter how minor I perceive them to be, truly do matter.
An excerpt from “A Year of Days” – July 16