Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A Curious Breed of Angels

*** Submitted by Susan, who blogs at Writing My Way Sober

In a recent Crying Out Now post (Remission) the author writes about how she knows she is an addict by how her mind responds to certain circumstances. She gives the example of a friend who went to the dentist and didn't take any of the Vicodin he was prescribed. She couldn't conceive of NOT taking it.

Ditto for me. My brain doesn't work the way non-addicts brains work.

Here are some examples:

I can't conceive of not polishing off a bottle of opiates, of any kind, post haste.

When I get sick, my mind gets giddy at the prospect of getting cough syrup with codeine.

A torn rotator cuff is a reason to get opiates, not physical therapy.

When others offhandedly mention pain meds they don't take, I wonder how I can talk them into giving them to me.

Driving home each night after work, my primary thought was about what kind of alcohol was in the house. If there wasn't any, I would get some. I would make up other items I "just had to pick up" to justify the stop at the store.

On camping trips, I would have to make sure there was alcohol readily obtainable. If not, I didn't want to camp there.

I didn't want to go to any social events if alcohol wasn't served. I kept track of how much wine was left and got nervous as it dwindled.

If there was alcohol in the house I would drink it. I always knew exactly how much wine was left and how many beers were in the fridge.

Non-addicts brains don't work this way.

These unsettling truths resolve the question once and for all as to whether or not I am an alcoholic/addict.

I am grateful for these reality checks. I picture them as a curious breed of angels. They serve as guideposts to the unquestionable fact of my disease.

It is odd to be grateful for something so disturbing. But when it comes to gratitude, I'll take it anywhere I can get it. I have a friend who is fond of saying: "All the really good stuff is hard." So I bow to the angels who are terrifying. Once again, back to Rilke.

"For beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror we can just barely endure, and we admire it so because it calmly disdains to destroy us. Every angel is terrible."

— Rainer Maria Rilke


A note from Ellie:   You have until March 2nd (tomorrow) at 7pm EST to submit a photo for Crying Out Now's one year anniversary video, which will be posted here on March 3rd.   Please consider submitting a photo (you can do this anonymously if you wish).    Click here or look at the post below this one for more information.   Thank you!


  1. And again, you provide me with revelations about myself. You see, while I'm sure my mother feels this way about alcohol, I don't have that compulsion. However, I feel precisely this way about food, and I can't imagine how other people don't.

    It's very, very enlightening to see this comparison.

  2. Oh, I love Rilke. This whole post is just so lovely. It's a terrifying beauty indeed.

  3. Obsession with available supply is one of the hallmarks of addiction, no matter what the substance or other focus. It's one of the ways we calm ourselves, knowing we can access the drug, food, or other thing that works to quell cravings. Sometimes it's almost as good as the actual consumption. I have shifting addictions, and am recently working on food, after quitting alcohol and other stuff and gaining weight! I realize I have trouble sharing food, even if I let the other person take more, it's something I obsess on. I can't imagine not completely eating everything that's served; taking second helpings is a given, if available. I have even taken home tortilla chips from a Mexican restaurant because they will "just throw them out". I eat ice cream from the half gallon cartoon with a spoon. To begin to see these behaviors as not the norm and not healthy is difficult! This kind of greed is a terrible thing to tackle.

  4. One word for this post: TRUTH.

    Thank you!

  5. I was beyond pissed when my doctor prescribed physical therapy for my back pain. I couldn't believe that she wouldn't give a girl a little Vicodin or something in pill form. And I punished her by enduring another full calendar year of back pain before I actually went to physical therapy.

  6. Diana, having physical therapy may be stressful and take a lot of your time, but it's essential in the gradual recovery of your back's strength.