Not to take away from the most holy week of Christendom, but I can’t help but think of parallels between the Easter story and those of us who have found light, love and life on the other side of addiction. Far be it from me to compare us to Christ, but I can’t help but believe that those of us who now live in recovery are keenly aware of how a resurrection really feels.
Crossing that chasm is never easy. I interact with a lot of people who reach out, so desperate to do something different and find a new way to live, but for whatever reason they can’t quite bring themselves to let go of the familiar. That’s the insidious nature of addiction — it’s familiarity. The pain is exquisite, the lifestyle degrading, the desperation agonizing ... but it’s a cycle that’s comfortable.
As I write this on Maundy Thursday, I’m struck by the imagery and solemnity of the Resurrection story. I am by no means Christ or even Christ-like, and I have no sure-fire way to get clean and stay that way other than what worked for me. I have the benefit of being a public voice through my column for the local newspaper for something that’s rarely talked about, but most of what I talk about isn’t original because it was handed down through the years by other recovering addicts who have found new lives thanks to a certain program.
And I freely admit that the program I belong to isn’t the only way. Others find recovery in church, in other programs, in any loving, supportive environment that breaks the chains that bind them to the darkness and allows them to stand fully erect in the light, free for the first time in years.
That’s how it feels — like crawling out of a deep, dark hole that’s suffocating in its restriction, smothering in its confinement and so black that all hope, all light is swallowed. The certainty of dying with a needle hanging out of my arm and hovering above my casket to watch the tears of disappointment, shame and anger on the faces of those I love is traded in for something new — an unwritten future of my own choosing.
It’s terrifying, on the one hand, because for years I labored under the false belief that I couldn’t handle life on life’s terms. I thought I had to have a chemical to accomplish anything, to enjoy anything, and the perversity of addiction is that those chemicals did just the opposite.
Getting clean doesn’t promise me a life full of rainbows and puppy dogs and nothing but good times. I still face trials and bad days and frustrations and confrontations; I still have moments of depression and sadness and hopelessness; I still let down myself and those about whom I care.
That hole in the ground from which I emerged is still there. I don’t kid myself that I’m “cured,” that I can never tumble back down into its depths. But I know that I have a choice today in everything that I do. I have a future that will be defined by the choices I make, and the person I want to become is limited only by those choices and my own willingness.
That’s how a resurrection really feels. And it’s an experience anyone, any addict, can have ... if they only make the choice to start pulling themselves out of their own hole and grasp the hand of those of us who have spent time down there and discovered a better way of life.
On this Easter weekend, I hope you’ve found some measure of resurrection from your own darkness, whatever that may be. Whatever your beliefs, whatever your religion (or lack thereof) … that’s something we can all celebrate.
Here’s your Friday motivation, friends. Happy Easter.