I’ve asked myself that question for years. Come to find out, so has my dear friend and recovery mentor, John.
Don’t you love honest and transparent conversations with people you love?
Miracles and a servant’s attitude
I’ve known John for more than 20 years. I’ve always appreciated his direct, often matter-of-fact way of looking at recovery from alcoholism and other addictions.
He’s the one who taught me about the ickiness of self-pity (“Sometimes we sit in our own s*&t because it feels warm.”).
I’ve admired his compassionate nature and his dedication to the active growth of his spiritual life.
Last week, I learned something new about John, and it’s a biggee. I learned that as a man in long-term recovery, he never gives up on people who are so very sick with addiction, even when their lives are at risk. He never lets go of hope.
“How can I?” he asked me. “I don’t know when God is done with them.”
John believes in miracles and in being a servant of God.
The gnawing, haunting question
So, why do some people stay in recovery while a majority of people don’t?
John and I drilled deeply into the why behind never drinking or using drugs again. Or maybe a better question is why do some people surrender completely and some never do?
For me–and for John–the willingness to surrender our lives every day is a beacon that guides our travels. Oh, we continue living as willful, bull-headed people, but we make sure that the Power that guides us is bigger than our wills.
People who surrender are willing to change, to accept new ideas, thoughts, beliefs and actions. They stay open to learn new things. Perhaps above all else, they are honest with themselves.
Honesty, open-mindedness and willingness–those are the essential elements that drive my life in recovery. Millions of people never reach the H.O.W. of recovery though. I believe the layers of fear, shame and self-loathing are wrapped too tightly, making it hard to break free.
Society doesn’t help–doesn’t do a very good job of ripping those layers away from the outside. If it did, maybe my brothers and sisters who struggle with addiction would find the inside work easier.
We’re working on it, though. There’s a nationwide campaign underway to help people understand why it’s necessary to treat everyone with addiction with the same love and hope that John shows his friends.
UNITE to Face Addiction
UNITE to Face Addiction is a grassroots advocacy initiative that is demanding solutions to a national health crisis that impacts more than 45 million people directly.
On October 4th, the group will mobilize on the National Mall in Washington, DC to let the nation know that addiction is preventable and treatable, that far too many of those affected have been incarcerated and that people can recover.
We can eliminate the shame and stigma that can keep people with addiction trapped in a cycle of self-destruction. It’s not their fault . . . finding fault is not the point. Finding solutions is the point.
We have to make recovery mainstream so that more people and their loved ones have a welcome and broad entry point. It’s about time, don’t you think?
I’ll be on the National Mall the first weekend in October. I’d love to see you there too.
We are–and will–UNITE to Face Addiction.
Photo courtesy of Portland Prevention