Sunday, August 09, 2009

A risky path

Yesterday, I ran into an old acting out partner. I'd love to tell you that it was by accident, but I walked right up to him and said hello in a restaurant. He was alone and I was alone, and he asked if I'd like to join him. Like an alcoholic who slips when one day someone asks, "Would you like a glass of wine with your meal, sir?" without hesitation, I said yes.

This man is one of the few acting out partners that I told about my addiction when I walked away. I told him back then because we were together three times and each time he shared with me how much he struggled with himself, with his God, how much self-hatred was created inside him. He shared with me about his trips to massage parlors, strip clubs and such and it was clear that he was an addict. I didn't try to save him -- I just told him of my disease and of the concept of the 12 steps.

So as we sat across from each other yesterday and I looked into the most gorgeous set of eyes ever given to a man, my addict was buzzing. That buzz only got stronger when he told me that like my husband, his wife was out of town. The battle was on within me. But we both acknowledged that we were experiencing those feelings, and we talked about them and what we weren't willing to give up, what we weren't willing to experience for the hit. We talked about what clarity had been with us, the struggles that exist from day to day, he shared his religious approach to his disease, and I shared the 12 steps -- which interestingly mirrored one another.

Both of us battled interally the entire conversation -- "do it" vs. "don't do it." Only by the grace of my Higher Power, and frankly his too, were we able to walk away. Things could have gone the other way in a split second ... if one of us had made the move toward "yes," there is no doubt the other would have followed.

I would never "recommend" doing what I did yesterday -- walking up to an old acting out partner alone in a restaurant -- to a newcomer in recovery. It simply could be suicide for recovery efforts. However, somehow I can accept today that there was a reason I went up to him, a reason why my Higher Power helped me to say, "It's best for both of us to just go on our way," rather than "Let me show you the way to my house." I can humbly give my Higher Power the credit for that strength and ask that the lesson of the day be revealed to me.

I was vulnerable yesterday. I have been vulnerable for a few weeks to acting out. I even toyed with it last night. That usually means my spiritual condition is suffering. It doesn't mean I have to act out. It means I have the opportunity to improve my faith and my partnership with my Higher Power. However, it may also mean that I took a bite into the diseased apple and tomorrow I'll be on a downward spiral. My life didn't begin or end yesterday. Lessons aren't always revealed right away. Six months or a year from now, I may be writing here and saying -- my spiral downward, back into relapse, all started with that innocent little hello in a restaurant. I can only deal with what's right in front of me and do the next right thing.

My sponsor is reminding me that while I often label myself an addict, my addiction is only a part of me. I am much more. And while I cannot expect "normal" responses to situations like yesterday. I can be thankful that five years in the program, many, many mistakes and lessons hard won, make it easier to choose the path of recovery, rather than the path of my disease. But my disease does not go away. It just sits, waiting and hungry.

I may face another trigger today. Today I will call on my Higher Power, not to save my ass, but to help me remember that I am more than an addict. I am a human being with values and a desire to live a better life. I have no chance at a better life if I don't make better choices.


Mark said...

Yay! Good on you Rae! You did it! Reading the first couple of paragraphs, I was sitting here thinking, "Ok, did she, didn't she? Did she, didn't she?"

You stared down your demons and returned to tell the story.

Well done! :)

Tor Hershman said...

Never waste time rasalin' with a deity; waste it in other ways such as typin' "Never waste time rasalin' with a deity."