When I first left rehab, my mantra was ‘Just for today’. The mantra of Narcotics Anonymous. It sure took courage and all my effort to stay clean just for that day. Beyond those first days, weeks and months I found hope. Hope for a better future for me and for my loved ones that had been so badly affected by my addiction. Planting that seed has led me on a journey that I am sharing with other recovering addicts and giving them hope and a practical way of moving away from addiction. This strategy is based on the premise of moving towards a life free of entrapment of substance dependency as apposed to remaining in the mindset of being an addict.
Look at it this way, if you imagine having two flower beds in your garden. The one is filled with weeds and the other with flower seeds. Whereas you can cut down the weeds or pull them out, if you keep fertilising and watering that bed the weeds will just keep growing.
Being aware that the bed of weeds is there is unavoidable, you can see the bed of weeds. Being in denial and saying ‘I am not an addict’ is pointless, it is like trying not to see the bed of weeds. In many ways, This is where I see recovery based purely on a 12 step recovery groups is not enough. Putting all of one’s energy into being an addict and constantly saying ‘I am an addict’, feeds that seed, and thus enforces one’s identity as an addict.
If, however, one fertilises, water and cultures the bed of flowers eventually the weeds will die on their own.
The brain is believed to be the most powerful, supercomputer. No computer yet created can replicate what the mind can do. However, the mind can also disempower us. It is important to understand the relationship between the conscious and sub-conscious brain in this regard.
When I consult with ‘partners’ or family members of addicts, they are usually frustrated. I will hear them say that the addict is ruining their own lives and the lives of others around them. Mostly the addict will even agree with this. The person who isn’t an addicts frustration is based on the concept that the addict is intelligent, they see what is happening to their own lives and everyone else’s. So why don’t they just stop?
The sub-conscious is what drives us. It is the epicentre of our reality. It responds from our past experience’s, beliefs and conditioning. We all would like to think that our conscious brain, where we process our logic and thoughts, where you are absorbing and analysing what you are reading now, is in control. But this is not the case. If it was, we would have no problem stopping our addiction the moment we realise that it is not serving us. Erasing the weed bed like a pencil drawing is impossible. Anyone who has relapsed knows that it is not as simple as making the decision.
Sustainable recovery is about working towards a better and brighter future as apposed to working away from a destructive one. The more one focuses on the past, the addiction, the harder it is to let go of it. Reaffirming ones dependence on substance addiction gives the subconscious permission to make this condition part of ones identity.
Some may say that this is all well and good. I have people say to me “But Patric, you don’t understand, my situation is different …”. Followed by a whole bunch of excuses and justifications. I get it! I too made all these statements to others and most important to acknowledge is that I made them to myself.
The Serenity Prayer is so relevant to this theory and the practicality of recovery. The past can’t be changed, so how will it benefit you to fertilise and nurture it? Have courage to change what you can, namely today, the present, and to start putting into action a future outcomes-based plan away from addiction.
Between now and death you have choice. Choose love and to be happy!