Listen, that you may live

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Thinking some more about concentration, will power, and control, how I thought I just didn’t have enough of any of them when it came to drinking.  All those nights I’d go to bed drunk and wake up the next morning swearing I’d never do it again, then shove it all aside and buy a bottle on the way home.  There was a horrible automaticity about it, like a robot in self-destruct mode.

The shame, embarrassment, guilt–none of it made any difference.  It went on for years. When I wasn’t drinking I felt brittle, as though I could break into thousands of pieces. The more I drank, the more I had to control the secret that I drank.  I was like a Kewpie doll with a frozen smile, dead inside.  The only relief was those first couple of drinks, then the slide to drunkenness, passing out on the couch, no memory of the last few hours, sodden sleep, waking at three or four a.m. with terrible thirst, racing heart, wet with perspiration.  And the whole cycle repeated, day after day.  Ugly, ugly.

Concentration/will power/control–they didn’t work for my addiction. It was only when I gave up the illusion of control that things changed. When I realized that no matter how hard I tried, how strong I tried to be, how much I worked at it, I couldn’t do it alone.  I had to give up control and ask for help.

A lot of meditation is about acceptance–not trying to master it, judge it, make it meet a certain standard, just letting it happen.  Recovery’s been like that too, for me–feeling my way, seeing what happens.  Sometimes I get really invested in where I ‘should’ be: I should be more productive, see more people, change the world, write a novel. But I’m gradually learning I can’t force things.  The brain I mistreated for so long will recover in its own time.  At first I could hardly read a book and couldn’t focus on music–now they’re two of my greatest joys. I get a lot of rest and do a lot of listening, to myself and others.

“Listen, that you may live.”  Good advice from an ancient source.

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One Response to Listen, that you may live

  1. Nice post. I’m almost embarrassed how on overdrive my brain is right now. And how much — how painfully obvious it is — I want to control everything…even my getting sober!? I think I’ll learn to simply take it as it comes, and listen to my body, mind, heart. If I do nothing all day, I did one huge thing, and that was not drink, right?

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