A journey is an adventure of discovery, hardship and wonder. Our ancestors set off into the unknown, seeking out distant lands and riches. We set out on a different sort of adventure. We grow, we learn, we pass our knowledge and wisdom onto our children. Rarely do we venture out and seek the unknown, like our ancestors did. Now, for too many of us, our journey includes self-destruction, self-loathing, stagnation. The world hasn't changed so much that we cannot seek out the same adventures our ancestors did, we are the ones who have changed.
It's not that we have lost any sense of adventure, its that our priorities have changed. Explorers went out, told us what was out there and we were satisfied. Much the same is happening today, with the Internet. We know what is going on in places half-way across the globe from us, we can watch live feeds from foreign nations we have never stepped foot in, and we do our best to make ourselves stagnant; believing that, with our little pieces of technology, we have seen what the world has to offer. Satisfied with that, we find other ways to command our time. Consciously happy, subconsciously miserable, we use drugs and alcohol to give ourselves that rush that we so desire. We convince ourselves that a life of dereliction is the answer to all our problems.
After you've been down in the dumps for a while, something happens. A desire for something different, anything that detours from the ordinary. By that point, normal existence has become getting that fix, doing whatever it takes to ensure you catch that buzz. A life free of substance starts to sound good. A desire for sobriety starts to bloom inside the heart of the addict, how normalcy becomes the ultimate goal. The internal war begins. Do you take that scary path and become a clean and productive member of society, or do you continue down the, all too familiar, path of Addiction? The mind reels, the body seizes, everything gets flipped upside down.
Thoughts and Idea's float around the mind, each contradicting the other. "Without your fix, you will die. You shall cease to exist without me!", one voice screams, and the world wrench into the addict's soul.
"You lived before without a fix, you know you won't die. Think about it, you know better", screams the other voice with equal ferocity.
Such a conflict may rage days, weeks, months, it all depends upon the addicts resolute determination to change his/her current situation. Once they decide a new life is better than their current one, a new journey begins.
We all know the signs of mourning, and in many ways its very much the same for the addict. We grieve for our loss (as silly as it sounds), we reflect upon the past, then we come to terms by admitting that old life wasn't what we thought it was. Finally, we accept that a new life is possible. After those lessons are learned, its time to start the real journey, stepping back into day to day life. Some of us move away from potentially dangerous situations, i.e. avoid old friends, family and loved ones who still use/abuse drugs or alcohol. Some of us try to forge a new path on old, familiar, ground. Whatever you feel you need to do, to ensure you remain on that path, is essential.
Once we've been walking our path for a little while, and life seems good, realities do set in. No one walks the path of an addict without creating collateral damage. That is when our tests begin. First comes a beast, which you must slay to remain clean and serene, that brings with it truth. The truth of how you hurt your family, friends, those you swear you love with every fiber in your being. The truth of how you hurt yourself, physically, mentally and spiritually. Pain you might have even forgotten will resurface, memories long buried will rush to the surface with a renewed vigor. That is when the beast must be slain, or the journey ends as quickly as it begins. Acceptance. You are at peace with your past, you accept who you are and the path you have walked.
Next comes a demon whose power goes beyond that of mortal men, Temptation. The addict cannot avoid being around drugs or alcohol for the rest of his life, its just how it is. Do they cower and grow fearful or do they seem to grow stronger each time they resist temptation? Fear will eat away at the psyche of the individual, no matter how strong. Fear grows, doubt spreads, eventually affecting the addict in such a way that they will give in and do anything to quash the feeling of fear and doubt. A strong man can fall, but a weak man cannot stand tall enough to resist.
Once the inner strength awakens, the addict is no longer an addict, they are a recovering addict. It's not such simple word play either, the difference is striking. Once they are removed from the beasts, demons and shadows in the tree's, the recovering addict starts to assimilate into day to day society with amazing grace and poise. The fog has been lifted, they can see a world of colors. They may seem happier, even at work. They may seem to have a more extreme set of emotions, it is true that they do. Its repressed energies finally being unleashed, they are allowing themselves to actually feel again.
Having slain beasts, demons and devils, the journey takes a final turn. Can the person remember the darkness enough to never venture that path again? Having talked to so many recovering addicts, the most common theme is remembrance. Remembering where they came from, what got them there, the pain, everything that is associated with the journey of addiction. I am not here saying that memory is the long term answer to keeping clean, but I believe our memory is a powerful took to be utilized. The journey from addict to recovery may be dark, ugly and covered in filth, but you deserve as much of a chance as a productive life as anyone else. When temptation does its dirty business, remember the ugliness. When weakness bends your knee, remember the insanity. Nothing can deter us from our rightful place and path, only we can stop ourselves.