Damned Either Way

Saturday evening, while playing a game on my computer, I reached out in the dark to grab my mod… and knocked it clean off the coffee table. The tank shattered; and I shorted-out a brand-new coil (which was, unfortunately, my last). I was doomed to be without nicotine for at least fifteen hours, because the vape shop I frequent doesn’t open until noon on Sundays.

The next morning, Mitch timed our gym visit perfectly. We would finish up just in time to land on the front stoop of the vape shop at exactly 12 p.m. (My husband doesn’t like being around me when I’ve been without nicotine for an extended period of time. Its absence tends to make me moody.)

But then? A funny thing happened.

I noticed that my resting heartrate (which the equipment measures when you sit down to start your workout) had fallen fourteen points. It was below 100 beats per minute — something I haven’t seen since I began working out over a month ago. My cardio heartrate (at the height of my workout) dropped six points. I also found that I wasn’t having as difficult a time breathing as I normally do. Sure, my breath was still strained at the peak of my workout; but not nearly as much as it usually is.

As we exited the gym, Mitch said, “Goin’ to see the boys, yeah?” (The vape shop I visit is run by a group of really nice young men that have been there for a long time, and know us well; thus we have dubbed them “the boys.”)

And kind’a to my own surprise, I said, “No? No. Nope, we don’t need to go see the boys.”

“You’re really going to quit?” my husband asked with trepidation.

I told him about my observations in the gym; and said that I honestly wanted to try.

Mitch raised an eyebrow and said, “Okay, on to Walmart for hard candies then.”

So that’s what we did. We went to Walmart and stocked up!

An Addict is an Addict…

Yesterday (out of desperation for a hit), I tried to prove that Sunday’s observations had been a fluke. I went to the gym, determined to see that my resting heartrate was back up over 100 bpm; but it wasn’t. It was maintaining at around 93. Damn it!

I kind of thought my breathing had returned to its former state of more labored; but I was also looking for an excuse to start vaping again (See?! Not smoking really hasn’t made a difference!), so that could have been entirely psychosomatic.

It’s been sixty-three hours — with dozens of hard candies consumed — since I last hit the mod; and I feel like I have bugs crawling under my skin. I want to vape so bad that I can think of little else.

Sunday wasn’t this hard.
Monday wasn’t this hard.
But today? Today, it just f*cking sucks!

Maybe it’s because I realized this morning that I have a spare tank buried away in my supply drawer and know that if I really felt like it, I could jerry-rig the battered coil. (It’s amazing how much ingenuity addicts can harness for a fix. 🤦🏻‍♀️) I truly could get it to work… and I’m struggling not to.

When Mitch called just a little while ago, I explained how disconnected and agitated I feel (but didn’t mention the tank and suppressed ingenuity). In response, he pointed out that I’m going through withdrawal. He also offered to stop by the shop on his way home from work for new supplies, if I really needed them.

And I want him to… but I also don’t want him to. Ya’ know? Because the absolute truth of the matter is I don’t need nicotine. It’s not like my lungs will suddenly stop working without it; on the contrary, they’re likely to work much better in the absence of my dragon-like vape-cloud inhalations… but goddam it, do I want it.

What In the HELL Was I Thinking?

I don’t know if I can honestly go through life without an active addiction.

Every time I give one up, another one seems to take its place. I gave up pills for booze, booze for food, (some) food for nicotine… and have suffered from a shopping addiction in the past.

I’m tired of my bottomless need for something costing my husband money — especially when I can’t explain why I’m so empty without it (and in truth, am also empty with it).

Honestly? I understand addiction better than most. I know why I am the way I am; but knowing the why of it all doesn’t change what is.

I’m forty-four years old, and don’t know if I have the strength to truly change in this department.

I enjoy smoking. In truth, I always have… but sixty-three hours (without it) is a lot of time to throw away.

I don’t know what I’m going to do…

Enough

I read a heartbreaking post this morning entitled “A Never Ending Nightmare” (written by my dear friend Ms. Alana at “Something Worth Fighting For: Life Goes On”).

The sentiment that “I am not enough” is a common theme in the lives of those who have experienced trauma and come out on the other side… which is ironic; because if we’ve managed to survive the horrors of trauma, shouldn’t we feel like warriors versus feeling less than? But sadly, it doesn’t seem to work that way.

When you add mental health disorders on top of trauma, those feelings run even deeper. For me, it’s often a matter of wondering why I can’t curb the behaviors that accompany my mental health issues. “If I weren’t so weak, I could control this shit,” is an internal lie born of external stigmatism.

Hell, there’s even sigma attached to mental health disorders through our health insurance providers — mental health is kept apart from physical health, with a different set of rules and parameters (and often, with separate and more costly co-pays). It’s no wonder we feel “less than” when compared to those who are fortunate enough to escape the pain and isolation of being diagnosed as “mentally ill”.

Then, throw addiction into the mix — an issue that eventually condemns a person to a prison of their own making — and you have the makings of a perfect “I absolutely suck” storm of thinking.

My Limitations Don’t Define Me

It’s taken me a long time to realize that I have very real limitations — both mentally and physically — that other people don’t. It’s taken even longer to come to accept, and honor, those limitations (and I don’t always do it well… it’s hard not to judge yourself in comparison to others).

Mitchell plays an important role in this, because he never judges me (not intentionally, anyway) by what I cannot do. He’s proud of me when I’ve managed to do the simplest of household chores and/or errands; and that makes a huge difference. He’s also the voice of calm reasoning in the midst of my “crazy” episodes.

Just yesterday, I weighed in at the gym and found that I had gained 2.8 lbs. I worked out anyway; but I was distraught by this “failure” (even though my routine is getting easier, and I’ve been able to increase my efforts). Afterwards, I called my husband and broke down into tears.

“What the hell? I’ve been working out five days a week and I’m gaining weight! This is ridiculous. Dr. Taylor’s not going to believe that I’ve made any effort at all to control my weight!”

“Baby, calm down. You look thinner. You’re moving more easily, and you’re accomplishing more outside of the gym. Muscle weighs more than fat, and you’re building muscle. This is going to take time; and you can’t measure everything by the numbers on the scale.”

“How the hell am I supposed to measure then?!”

“You measure by what you’ve accomplished. The rest will work itself out in the end. Trust me. You’re doing an excellent job, Honey.”

I still felt dismayed; but I dusted myself off and tried to get through the rest of the day… something I probably couldn’t have done without Mitch’s support.

This past week, I also went to the grocery store — twice! — after the gym and picked up easy-to-make dinners, so that Mitch wouldn’t have to stop on his way home and try to plan meals; and he was thrilled by this. However, on the second day, I wasn’t able to do much more following said errand. I’d gone to the gym, had run around town in the blistering heat, and was exhausted by the time I got home.

It took real effort to throw myself into the shower; and after that, I was spent. I didn’t get any laundry done… and more importantly, I did not judge myself for this.

It’s important for me to recognize when I’ve done something I wouldn’t/couldn’t normally do, no matter how small… because in doing so, I start to realize what I am capable of doing.

Sure, my capable might not live up to someone else’s capable… but guess what? Someone else is not me, and I am not them. We’re not better or less than one another; we’re just different. (And if we weren’t different, what a boring f*cking place this world would be.)

Reading Between the Lines, When There’s Nothing There

I find that I often read much more into a situation than is actually there.

A while back, after an intense argument between Mitchell and myself, I took out a notebook and wrote down what Mitchell had said in one color of ink, and what I had heard in another.

It turns out that most of what I was angry about was in my own damn head.

Mitch had made a benign comment about me putting something back in the refrigerator incorrectly, and what I had heard was, Are you really this stupid? How many times do I have to tell you how to do something before you get it right?! Jesus, Lady! Get your shit together!

Similarly, if someone looks at me when I’m out in public, I always wonder what in the f*ck they’re thinking. What? You got a problem with me? Bring it! You have no right to judge, Buddy! And in all actuality, they’re probably not thinking anything about me at all.

It’s that internal critic — a symptom of trauma and mental health issues — that makes the external world a hostile place; and I have to remember to try and keep it in check.

I’m Not Broken, I’m a Limited Edition

I have encountered monsters that tried to break me; but they didn’t succeed, because I’m still here. The bastards haunt my dreams because they have lost their power in the waking world… and the nightmares they are a part of are nothing more than an illusion of memory. I vanquished them once, and I will do it again — as many times as I need to — in order to free myself from their spectral grasp.

Sure, my brain might work a lil’ differently as a result of the actions of these monsters… but I am not broken. I’m a limited edition; and that makes me more valuable, not less.

If I have more cracks in the glass than most, that simply means that I have the capability to let more light into the darkness.

I am more than enough… and that “enough” has grown with time, distance, and experience.

And no one has the power to take that away from me… because I do not grant them permission to do so.

Dear Reader, you are enough… just the way you are.

Soundtrack: “Enough” by Delta Goodrem, featuring Gizzle

Personal Boundaries

The Trials, Errors, and Triumphs of AA (No. 1)

Not surprisingly, when most of us in the proverbial Anonymous programs enter the rooms, we have a deeply flawed sense of what personal boundaries are. It’s not uncommon for us to come from dysfunctional families, to have underlying mental health issues, and/or to be victims of trauma… all of which skew the lines of “healthy” boundaries.

This past week, I received a phone call that reminded me of my early days in the program… and the unacceptable lengths I was willing to go to in the name of “sobriety”.

Like many folks these days, I don’t pick up numbers I do not recognize; but my voicemail message states, “If you are a friend of Bill’s, please leave your name and number and I will get back to you as soon as possible.” That way, members of AA know that I am also a member. If someone leaves a voicemail, I do check that (almost always) immediately.

From an unrecognized number, I was left the following message (by far, one of the more bizarre calls I’ve received in the program):

“Cassie, this is [Anonymous]. We met in a meeting about a year and five months ago. [The caller also left a description of themselves.] I’m in a tight spot, and I need your help. I need three cartons of Newport Menthols, a half-dozen bags of Doritos, and a couple of two-liters of Diet Coke. This is my address…”

I returned the call and explained that I was available for emotional and sobriety-related support, but was not an Uber Eats delivery driver. (Said member also “has no money”, and expected a favor “for having been a friend of Bill’s for more than twenty years.”) In response, I was met at first with pleading (for “just the cigarettes then”) and then with a “F*ck you, Bitch!” (at which point, I said “That is unacceptable and abusive language, and I am now ending this call). Moments later, this member called again, leaving a message with a longer sundry list.

What. The. F*ck. This is not what we do in AA. (So I set a boundary, and blocked the damn number.)

To be clear, if I have an established relationship with someone in the program — and they actually are in dire straits — I won’t hesitate to help. I’ve bought groceries, gas, and other necessities when friends are in need; but I no longer acquiesce to requests such as the one above — friend or not. However, it took me a damn long time — and learning some really hard lessons — to get to this point: the point where I can give a justified “No!” to someone without feeling any guilt.

Busy is Not Necessarily Sober

My first year in the program, I ran around for folks like a chicken with my head cut off. If I was asked to do something; I did it without question. I drove people around (and not just to and from meetings), I lent people money, I bought food and cigarettes for other members, and I babysat everyone’s children.

These things were a blessing in that they kept me busy; but they were not conducive to working towards emotional sobriety. I was always exhausted; and the more I did, the more I gained a reputation for “being helpful” (or “being a sucker”, depending on how you look at it 🤦🏻‍♀️), and the more I was asked to do.

It took a total breach of my trust — and the strong words of healthier members — to break this cycle.

Taking Advantage

Mere months into my sobriety, I was helping a young woman in the program to get to and from meetings. Occasionally, we also had coffee or a meal together (for which, I always paid). I also assisted her with filling out the paperwork to receive state-sanctioned health insurance, because she desperately needed mental healthcare assistance.

Over the course of several months, I would be called to her home (by her guardians) on more than one occasion to help deal with violent outbursts and suicide threats (during these events, I routinely called the local crisis response team). Eventually, we were able to get her placed in an intensive outpatient program; and I continued to take her to and from meetings.

Then one evening, while attending a meeting together, this young woman stated that she had left something in my car and asked for my keys. I gave them to her; but she never returned to the meeting. Figuring she had opted to stay outside and smoke cigarettes, I stayed for the duration. After the meeting, I went outside; and she was no where to be found.

I walked to my car and found the keys inside on the driver’s seat; but the young woman had taken everything that was in the car — cigarettes, various items in the trunk, a small amount of emergency cash from the console, and all of my CDs. (In hindsight, I’m grateful that she didn’t take the car as well.)

When I later shared this story in a meeting, women who had decades of sobriety pulled me aside and explained that I needed to get my shit together… that trying to help everyone with everything when I didn’t have my own house in order yet would always lead to negative consequences.

And that’s when I really started working the program.

We Are Not Slaves, Laborers, or ATMs

I have seen “sponsorship” go completely awry during my years in AA.

I have witnessed members utilize newcomers for yardwork, housework, and errand running. Not in a casual “let’s keep you busy” kind of way; but in an abuse of power.

There are sponsors who take over the finances of those they profess to be helping — taking advantage of the naivete of newcomers. (Side Note: Sponsorship should never be a relationship of profit.)

Being asked to help set-up a meeting — making coffee, putting out chairs, distributing literature, etc. — is perfectly acceptable. Being asked to wash someone’s car? Not so much.

Thirteenth Stepping

While there is no “thirteenth” step in twelve-step programs, “thirteenth stepping” refers to members taking sexual advantage of newcomers. This is why it is strongly suggested that you work with someone of the same sex — to avoid (dysfunctional) transference.

Admittedly, I fell victim to this myself (and feel abysmally stupid for having done so). Like many women in the program, I entered the hallowed halls of the Anonymous with a strong distrust of other women. I have always been a bit of a tomboy, and had closer friendships with men than I did women. As such, I was drawn to males in the program rather than females. (Old patterns die hard.)

Needless to say, it didn’t end well. The boy (because I have come to realize that he was not yet a man, emotionally speaking) that I had a short-term sexually intimate relationship with went on to talk about said relationship in meetings all over town… and it nearly stopped me from continuing in the program.

Fortunately, shortly thereafter, I met a very strong group of women with healthy sobriety… and have not worked with men in the program since.

That’s not to say that I don’t have friendships with men in the program now. I do; but they are healthy friendships with very clear personal boundaries.

Healthy Sobriety

Nothing about sobriety is easy… and it’s a lifelong commitment (albeit, only twenty-four seconds, minutes, or hours at a time).

Step-work — when done “correctly” — helps us to rediscover who we were before addiction consumed our lives. It should lead to a healthier self-image, substantial self-confidence, and emotional serenity and safety. (Which is not to say that we will be serene for the rest of our days… but we learn to cope with difficult times — and difficult people — in healthier ways.) Ideally, it also helps us to find a new direction, and a deeper purpose, for our lives. And most importantly, it helps us to establish and maintain personal boundaries. It teaches us to appropriately use the word “no”.

So if you are a newcomer to our Anonymous programs, trust your gut instincts. If something doesn’t feel right, or is causing you undue stress, don’t be afraid to pull the drawbridge up and bar the gate.

Watch, and really listen, to people in the meetings. Gravitate to members with strong sobriety that you admire. Make sure that they “walk the walk” rather than just “talk the talk.”

Members with strong sobriety live full lives. They are contributing members of society — both inside and outside of the rooms. They are self-sufficient and will not ever insist that you do something untoward. A sponsor should empower, not belittle you.

Remember too that every single person in the rooms is an addict. The only thing we truly have to offer you is “our experience, strength, and hope”.

May you find “an easier, softer way” to sobriety than I did.

Soundtrack: “NO” by Meghan Trainor

It’s Not “Just” a Food Addiction

Recovery & Weight Loss Endeavors No. 6

The past two days have been dismal for me. I binged, and binged again, on junk food — cheeseballs and crackers, cookies, Krispy treats, candy, etc.

This problem isn’t a simple one. It isn’t a matter of will-power alone. It also doesn’t come down to it “just” being an addiction.

I’m on medication for night terrors (that I get absolutely zero sleep without) that has an “increased appetite” side effect. Between my two doses (one at six in the evening, and one around eight in the evening), it’s as if I’m stoned on weed and have a terrible case of the proverbial munchies.

I also have IBS; so I avoid eating during the day (especially if I have plans) in order to mitigate the chances of having an attack. Thus, by early evening, I’m famished; and I eat much faster than I should (and crave sugar and fats due to low blood glucose).

Mitch and I do not have healthy eating habits, either. We’re both procrastinators and rather poor planners… which leaves our evening meal on hiatus until we’re both starving, and more likely to run out for fast food.

What Hasn’t Worked

Stocking the Fridge

We have tried filling the refrigerator with fresh fruits and vegetables (things that by and large Mitchell does not eat); but often, they end up spoiling instead of getting eaten.

Why? Because I hate preparing food; so if Mitch doesn’t take the initiative to cut things up and portion them out, I tend to ignore what’s in the kitchen. (I also have an essential tremor that makes handling knives a difficult feat.)

That isn’t to say that my husband is at fault. On the contrary, I need to take some initiative in this department. I should take more responsibility for my own dietary habits; but Mitch has been in control of this for so long, that it’s become a (somewhat necessary — see the tremor explanation above) habit that’s hard to break.

Making Vows

I have tried writing out my intentions — hoping to make them harder to break — to no avail.

It’s all well and good to type “I will limit myself to one sugary item after our evening meal.” (As I did in Thursday’s post.) But by the time seven o’clock rolls around, I’m frustrated with myself for not having eaten better during the day, and that “the house is on fire, might as well let it burn to the ground” mentality sets in.

Counting Calories

I shared in an earlier post on the blog why this particular tactic doesn’t work for me.

The F*cking Endless Cycle

I’m extremely agitated by my inability to reign-in my binge-eating habits.

I cannot fathom how I found the strength to give up booze and narcotics, yet can’t manage to put down the donuts and potato chips through my will alone.

After a binge, I wake up feeling ashamed and disgusting. Often, I also feel physically taxed and sluggish; which is exactly how I felt when plagued with a hangover.

You would think that wanting those feelings to go away would be enough to prevent the actions that precede them; but instead, I find myself stuck in the hellish cycle of addiction (albeit, a less nefarious addiction than the ones I’ve managed to keep in check this past few years): eat irresponsibly, it takes an emotional/physical toll, feelings of shame fuel negative self-image, there is a loss of hope and some self-flagellation, reach for (false) comfort in the very thing causing you distress. Rinse and repeat.

Not “Just” an Addiction is Still an Addiction

One of the hardest things about overcoming addictions is that they mutate. Why? Because “addiction” is born of maladapted coping mechanisms. It’s a (somewhat “diseased”) way of thinking… and changing one’s way of thinking can be an extremely difficult thing to do.

In addicts, negative underlying emotions fuel the desire to rid oneself of them through any means necessary… to feel something different.

In my case, I’m trying to “outrun” feeling undesirable — to fill the one missing piece (i.e. a sexually intimate connection with my husband) in the puzzle of my life.

I couldn’t fill it with alcohol. I couldn’t fill it with opiates. I couldn’t fill it with affairs. And now? Now, I cannot fill it with food.

I Should Know Better By Now

After years of self-reflection in the Anonymous programs, you would think I had better tools to cope with feelings of self-destruction; and I do… sort-of.

I have friends that I can call when I’m feeling “restless, irritable, and discontent” — but I still struggle with actually doing so. (Mostly, because I’d rather listen to their problems, than to bleed all over them with mine.)

I know that writing helps me to sort out negative emotions, and leads to finding the flecks of glitter among the ashes of darker thoughts… and that I can do (as I am now).

It seems to me that I must start treating my binge-eating as an addiction (rather than just a bad habit) — even when there are other factors at play; and for me, unfortunately, that means finding a healthier addiction to replace it.

I’m working on it…

Soundtrack: “Recovery” by James Arthur

Scaling the Walls

Ugh is the only way to describe the past couple of days within the confines of my marriage.

Mitch and I had a fight that went from quiet arguing to screaming obscenities to me throwing him out of the house to uncomfortable days of silence.

In the end, we were able to have a more rational conversation about the things that had transpired (i.e. normal marriage stuff, but with the added bonus of each of you knowing how to push the shit out of the other’s buttons); and agreed that as long as we’re still fighting — and have something to say to one another — then we’re still in this. Together.

Overcoming the Addict Within

My first gut reaction to having been emotionally disemboweled by my spouse was to act out.

I wanted to reach for the bottle of wine in the pantry (that Mitch keeps for cooking) and just get soused. I wanted to run to an AA meeting that I know is full of chaos and lies (and become a part of said chaos and lies). I wanted to grab my phone, reach out to an ex, and beg for sexual benefits. I wanted to take every pill in the house, and wait for death.

(Side Note: I do not wish to do these things to hurt my husband nor myself — not consciously, anyway — but to feel something radically different to despair.)

Instead, I did none of these things.

I collapsed onto the couch and cried into Tocho’s fur until he was soppy and covered in snot. I forced myself to get up and wash the dishes in the kitchen sink. I turned on a beloved television program and hit the mod like it was my last day on earth. I didn’t eat… until I did, and then went on a binge.

I don’t proclaim that these choices are “healthy” necessarily; but they’re a hell of a lot healthier than the destructive alternatives that first surfaced in response to stress.

Years into my recovery (in which I’ve done a ton of self-reflective work), I recognize the aforementioned gut reactions as extremely poor coping mechanisms for emotional discord.

I realize that thinking that way will always be a part of who I am (and I cannot control said thoughts); but acting on them is something I can control.

When I start to hear the insidious siren call of the addict within, I know it is imperative to think of the things I could lose should I answer it. Namely? My husband, my son, and my (rather precarious) sanity.

Having gratitude for what I do have helps to prevent the damage that my addicted self would do should she be let loose. (I’ve managed to keep that bitch caged for a good number of years, and do not intend to set her free.)

I will always be an addict… and I may never be able to stop the binge-eating or the non-stop inhaling of nicotine; but I would rather be a lil’ fluffy and vaping like a dragon than a careless drunk who thinks little about anything other than getting that next drink.

I would rather be fighting with Mitch over my lack of a sex-life than feel miserable about myself for having reckless sex (and yes, it’s always reckless at that point) with men who aren’t my husband.

I would rather know who I am than have no idea who I have become.

I choose to be more than my addictions.

Residual Fallout

Unfortunately — even when making healthier choices — mental and emotional stress always takes a toll.

In this most recent event with my husband, I lost all motivation. I stopped writing, stopped reading, stopped going to the gym, stopped showering, stopped corresponding with friends, ate a shit-ton of junk food, and was minimalistic in my attempts at doing the chores (I did keep up with the dishes).

This reaction to internal turmoil is a symptom of my disease… and it’s never easy to cope with.

It is beyond difficult to live with a mind that seems determined to unravel itself; and the knowledge that you will have to deal with said self-destructive mind for the rest of your life can be more than a little daunting.

I have yet to scale the walls of the rabbit hole I found myself falling into this past weekend; but I’m getting there… and really, that’s all that I can do — scale the walls one tremulous step at a time.

“Addict”: The Label vs. The Word

My dear friend, Ms. Alana at “Something Worth Fighting For: Life Goes On” posted this morning about her feelings on the label “addict”: “Yes, I’m an “addict”. (I fucking hate that word. Always will. And I’ll probably always fight against it as a defining word for myself.)”

I Can Use the Word, You Can’t Use the Label

Quite perfectly timed in the light of Ms. Alana’s post, my husband and I had an argument about his use of the label “addict” yesterday afternoon.

I mentioned to him that I was going to need more e-juice for my mod; and he pointed out that I seem to be smoking a bit more these days. I explained that I’m trying to quit; but that with all of the other changes I’m going through at this particular moment in time, it’s difficult to try and overcome my nicotine addiction as well.

“Mitch, I’m trying. I really am; but this isn’t an easy one for me to let go of.”

To which, Mitchell said, “Of course not, you’re an addict.”

Ouch. Arrow to the heart, my fathead husband.

While I have no problem using the word to describe myself, my hackles immediately rise to their fighting position when someone else throws the label at me. So I growled back at him, “Nice. Way to use that against me, Babe. Do you have to take every opportunity to remind me of that fact? Like I don’t fucking know I’m an addict?! I have to be reminded?! Seriously?! Jesus!”

We both went uncomfortably silent for a moment after that… until I reminded myself to take a deep breath and re-evaluate my reaction to his offhand comment.

“I’m sorry, Honey. That was an overreaction; but do you realize that you never take the time to reminisce on all of the addictions that I have given up (booze, narcotics, reckless sex)? It would just be nice if you would use that particular term in a less derogatory way from time-to-time.”

“I only spoke the truth of the situation.” Mitchell said through gritted teeth.

“I know, but I’m aware of those particulars of my own personality. I don’t need you to constantly remind me of them.”

“Sorry,” he mumbled.

Many of us that battle with the demons of addiction struggle with these types of interactions (even within our own heads). The problem resides in the old adage “there are two sides to every coin.” In this case, there is the label “addict” (see no. 1 below) and the word “addict” (see no. 2 below). The Oxford Dictionary demonstrates these opposing viewpoints by defining “addict” two different ways:

  1. “a person who is addicted to a particular substance, typically an illegal drug”
  2. “an enthusiastic devotee of a specified thing or activity”

It Works for Good, as Well as Evil

The label that resides within my personality never works out for anything less than evil… if I drink and/or use, I tend to lose my moral compass and any compassion towards others. I can’t have just one shot of whiskey… once I start, I want the whole damn bottle and the dregs from any others that happen to be lying around. I also have no qualms about spending the rent money on more booze.

The word that resides within my personality, however, often does work out for good. It makes me passionate and determined about the healthy choices I make (i.e I’m an extremely dedicated university student that routinely gets awarded high academic marks). When I put my mind to something (like visiting the gym daily), I’m more likely to stick to the plan than other folks, etc.

This subtle difference is something that I vehemently stress to newcomers in the proverbial Anonymous programs in which I sponsor… because I do take issue with having to introduce ourselves at meetings as “alcoholics” or “addicts” — not because it isn’t true, but because we are so much more than these derivative labels. We are a collection of other beautiful words — woman, strong, survivor, determined, passionate, empathetic (when sober), etc.

Often, in response, newcomers lament that they see very little of these words in themselves; and that’s okay. They’re new, they’re raw, they’re emotional; and often, up until they work with other women in the program, they’ve only been described by those around them in negative terms — manipulative, liar, cheat, not trust-worthy, etc.

This was true in my case; but by surrounding myself with strong females who had decades of sobriety, I learned what I could become; and then changed the opinions of those around me through positive action.

It breaks my heart to read the words in Ms. Alana’s post that I hear many times repeated in the rooms. If you are struggling with a negative addiction, please know that you are not alone. If you feel there is no hope, please know that it is out there… waiting for you to find it. And last, but not least, if you feel as if you will never overcome, please know that if I can overcome, fucking anyone can.