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MOTIVATIONAL MUSINGS: Recovery frees us from the monotonous repetition and utter misery of addiction


Because it's Feb. 1, I'm sure you'll be able to find on television tonight that classic Bill Murray comedy, “Groundhog Day.”

I love that movie. It's funny, and when I was younger, I used to think about how cool it would be to live the same day over and over and over — how nothing I did would have any consequences, because the next morning, I'd wake up in the same bed and it would always be 6:30 a.m. on Feb. 2. Believe me, I came up with some pretty devious scenarios. But if you look past all of the fun Bill Murray's character has stealing money and seducing women, there's a desperation in the plot that most people seem to overlook, or simply dismiss as another comic device designed to elicit laughs. That's the monotony of doing the same thing, over and over and over.

No matter what the character did — whether it was stealing a car or getting into a fight or trying to drive out of town, he was doomed to wind up right back where he started the day. There was no escape — the same people would do the same things, say the same things and act the same way. No wonder the character wound up trying suicide, by every method from stepping in front of a bus to climbing into a full bathtub with a plugged-in toaster.

Addiction is so much like that movie, it's scary. As addicts, we live in bondage. Our days are the same, dictated by the cravings and obsessions of our disease. We do the same things over and over expecting different results, but never get them. In the end, we wind up right back where we started — strung out, desperate and hopeless. My addiction controlled my life, just as fate controlled Bill Murray's Phil. No matter what he did, he was helpless to break free from the temporal prison that kept him waking up over and over again on Feb. 2. My addiction was the same way — no matter what I tried, I inevitably ended up drifting off at night praying to die in my sleep and cursing the fact I was still alive when I awoke in the mornings.

That's because from the second my eyes opened, I knew what the day would bring — getting and using drugs and finding ways and means to get more. I lived to use and used to live, and from the moment I regained consciousness in the mornings, I was consumed by the need to get high. Not just the desire — the soul-searing, unbearable, gut-churning need. I'm sure that sounds melodramatic, but I know of no other way to describe just how it feels to be absolutely consumed by something that dictates when you wake up, when you pass out, who you interact with, where you'll spend your money, what lies you'll tell and whom you'll wrong.

If I didn't have dope ready to go first thing in the morning, the withdrawals set in shortly thereafter. I'd shake with fever and chills, barely able to stand, unable to do anything but sip water and puke stomach acid into the toilet. My brain felt like a beehive, an unbearable crawling, buzzing sensation in the back of my head that wouldn't quit. And I knew the only thing that would make it go away would be drugs. If I had drugs, it wouldn't be a lot, and I'd be on the verge of panic to get more before those withdrawals hit. Nothing else mattered.

Sure, I went through the motions with normal, everyday things — friendships, job, etc. But inside, the only thing I could focus on were the drugs I knew I was going to do and the people I knew I had to get them from. That was my life, without fail. Just like “Groundhog Day,” it was the same thing, over and over and over. I was completely powerless over doing anything to change my addiction, just as Bill Murray's character was powerless as well. In the end, however, he found the one thing that got the clock moving again — love.

Fortunately for me and other addicts, we find a similar sort of love — the love of the fellowship of recovery to which we belong, and the conviction that by embracing it, we too can break free from the chains of bondage. Today, each new day brings something different. It's not always pleasant, because that's the way life is. Life isn't rainbows and puppy dogs and bowls of Frosted Flakes day in and day out. Sometimes, to be frank, it can be lousy.

But sometimes ... most of the time ... it goes the other way, too. And I'll take the good days and bad days and going-half-mad days over the monotony and insanity of a life spent in slavery to drug addiction any time.

Happy Groundhog Day, family. Here’s your Friday motivation.