***Submitted by Diana, who is a regular contributor to Crying Out Now
Even after five years of sobriety, I harbor no illusions that I am cured. It is more like my disease is in remission.
I don’t consider picking up a drink because I know I don’t drink. That is just the way I live now. The way I react to certain circumstances, however, and the way my brain processes some things remind me all the time that I am a card carrying member of the addict community.
Last weekend we watched the movie “It’s Complicated” with Meryl Streep. It was a cute romantic comedy; kind of predictable, but I enjoyed it. I also had a very strong desire to get high after watching it. There was a scene where Meryl Streep’s character smokes a joint with Steve Martin’s character before attending a party at which they have the best time ever had at a party. Even the physical act of smoking looked good to me; the ritual of inhaling, holding in the smoke, exhaling and then feeling the buzz. Man, it sounds pretty good to me even as I write this. I suspect the un-addicted mind wouldn’t get quite so warm and fuzzy over this tiny fraction of a 90-minute movie.
Recently a coworker had his wisdom teeth removed, all four at once. When I asked how he was doing a colleague said that he was fine and hadn’t even had to take the Vicodin the doctor had prescribed. My response was, ”Just because he doesn’t have to take it is no reason not to”. To which I added, “But that thought is precisely why I am in recovery”. I even had the thought that all that Vicodin was going to be wasted. As if there are people in real need of Vicodin who are being deprived of it (think the “there are children starving in China” argument) as opposed to me just lusting after someone else’s pain meds.
I watch Showtime’s “Nurse Jackie” religiously. I find myself sort of in love with Edie Falco’s character and not just because I relate to the juxtaposition of a strong intelligent woman who is both overwhelmed and flawed. I live vicariously through the multitude of pills she pops and snorts. A marital conflict? Pop a couple of the pink pills. A work related catastrophe? Crush up the white pills, inhale and call it a day. I was never into pills, but my reaction to her and hers proves to me just how easily I could have been.
I don’t act on these impulses nor do I really mind them. They serve as a constant reminder that my disease is always there, trying to peer pressure my brain into making the wrong choice. But my brain, while always tempted, remembers too clearly the helplessness of active addiction and won’t give in.
In recovery I have learned to identify my flawed thinking process instead of just acting upon it.