Recovery: A Burning Desire
90 days. 2,160 hours. 129,600 minutes.
That’s how long it’s been since I’ve put a drink or a drug into my body. That’s how long it’s been since my life was engulfed in flames and I fought daily to put them out with a little help from my favorite off white powder. I’ve heard early sobriety being described in meetings as “one big crazy acid trip!” New emotions, sounds, feelings, thoughts, colors, smells, and sensations! Everything coming back to you slowly, but somedays overtaking me completely and leaving me feeling just as paralyzed as I did deep into my addiction.
The first few weeks of sobriety for me were some of the most trying days I’ve had in my life. What do you do when all of the sudden your favorite pastime, full time hobby, and twisted lover is taken away from you? Intellectually you know it has to go because it’s killing you, but somewhere deep in your brain that desire still burns like embers at the bottom of a fire, waiting for the slightest spark to set it off again. That’s how my brain still feels most days. It’s like I have something burning deep in the back of my mind, somedays subtle, and somedays screaming out to be lit again. If a “normal” person has a thousand thoughts a day, I think I have a million. My head is constantly firing left and right, over and over, incessantly, and now, with no escape. I feel like a child whose favorite blanket has been taken away. I can no longer snuggle into the warmth and comfort that drugs and alcohol brought me because my “blanket” was smothering me as soon as I turned my back for a second thinking “I have this under control”. Even at 90 days in there are still days I feel like I’m being smothered. How do you live without an escape from the chaos of everyday life? That’s a question I ask myself over and over as daily life ebbs and flows, up and down. Not every day is a struggle. Some days I feel like I have the embers under control and when the spark tries to push its way into my thoughts, I quickly shove it back out before it can light the flame of desire. I read a quote once that said “Without desire there exists no temptation.” This quote quickly has me thinking, what do I desire? Substances no longer have a place in my life that much I know. But has the desire been lifted? Maybe it has. Maybe it hasn’t. But as I write this I do know I can say with my whole heart that I desire to be free from self. I desire peace of mind. I desire a life full of happiness, and the ability to pursue my dreams. I desire the promises that I hear every day when I go to a meeting. I desire joy, and laughter. I desire connections with friends, new and old. These new desires may not spark the same instant response that I used to get from drugs and alcohol, but I think there’s something to be said for working hard towards something, when even you aren’t sure where that path may lead you. In addiction there are three places the drugs and alcohol will lead you: jails, institutions, and death. In sobriety the path is now limitless, I’m told, as long as you do the work.
So with 90 days behind me, I’ll continue to douse the embers in the back of my brain. To spark the desire to embrace a happy, joyous and free lifestyle and put out the dark thoughts of the past. If I’ve learned one thing in the past 90 days it’s that recovery isn’t something you just get to have. It’s something that you have to work for, every day. I may have lost my comfort blanket, but with the blanket gone, and my face no longer hiding from the world, I get to embrace a new life. A life without limitations. A life of freedom, and happiness like I’ve never known before.