My friends in recovery personify the disease of addiction in a myriad of ways. I’ve learned volumes from that.

There’s a vital distinction between what is me, and what is within me that is not me, seeking to destroy me.

“I’m not tired right now.”

My body and brain seem to believe that I am tired, but it’s a lie my depression is telling me. My depression says that I lack sufficient inspiration and motivation to write today. Fortunately, my spirit just dialed up Evanescence’s Wake Me Up Inside.

It’s amazing to me how many times I can learn a simple lesson over and over again. Example: I feel better when I write.

My depression wants me to whine that I currently have writer’s block, which is the lamest of justifications for not doing something that makes me feel alive. Worse, I’m not lacking inspiration. I’ve spoken with four people today who are personal heroes of mine and it’s only midday.

My friends in recovery personify the disease of addiction in a myriad of ways. I’ve learned volumes from that. There’s a vital distinction between what is me, and what is within me that is not me, seeking to destroy me.

Addiction’s False Promise

Of course, for those seeking freedom from addiction, the experience is far more convoluted and potentially lethal. The disease of addiction will use depression, anxiety, and other forms of mental illness to fuel the desire to drink or use. The false promise the disease offers is relief from the pressure and discomfort of other illnesses. We know better. Drinking or using to cope with pain and fear is how most of us came to develop addictions.

Even when we abstain from our drug of choice, the disease urges us toward any unhealthy vice: overeating, promiscuity, gambling, or something as subtle as the illusion of comfort in isolation.

Many of those closest to me offer this sage advice: “My disease wants me dead, but it will settle for miserable.”

Atelophobia

I’ve met with a lot of miserable/depressed people in my career. Most of us suffer from Atelophobia – the fear of not doing things well enough and (far worse) the fear of not being good enough. This fear cannot be said to be truly irrational – it’s based in lessons taught to us and feelings of poor worth instilled within us.

The disease desperately wants us to believe that we are unacceptable, unlikeable, and unlovable. It wants us to see reaching out to others as constituting an imposition upon them. Addiction flourishes in isolation. This is all the more true during this time of quarantine.

I promise it’s not true. I promise that reaching out earnestly no matter how much of a mess you may believe you are, is never burdening others. You might be like me – there may be a long list of lies you believe about yourself. I implore you to move away from figuring anything out and toward connecting with kindred spirits.

It’s one of my favorite things about us – no matter how messed up we may be about ourselves, we readily see the truth about each other. I needed people to teach me about me. For a long time, I was convinced they were all just nice people trying to make me feel better. I deflected their praise simply by thinking, “If you really knew me, you wouldn’t like me.” That, perhaps, is the biggest lie we believe.


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