Eighteen years ago today I had my last drink. It was(is!) my husband's birthday and we were celebrating. I miss booze like I miss a dear old friend. I do. I wish I could say otherwise but it wouldn't be true. In all the turmoil of these past few months I have longed for the warm fuzzy feelings that booze used to give me. I have gone on to replace the booze with other things. I have 7 days of freedom from sexual addiction today and zero from food addiction. There was a time where if I had to choose between milk for my kids and a lottery ticket the lottery ticket would win. If there's something to be addicted to I will gravitate toward it. I know this about myself. Somtimes I feel ashamed that I gave up one addiction only to go looking for others, as if that negates being sober. Other times I simply am thankful that booze is not thrown into the mix along with everything else.
I wrote a few days ago about not wasting the pain. The other night as I was going to bed I admitted to myself that I had no desire whatsoever to sit in the pain. Then I realized that I didn't know how to anyway. Numbing the pain comes easily, everything else is a steep learning curve. The last time I had a session with Father Charlie he told me I was having a desert experience and that my feet were in the sand. I wanted to tell him my feet were burning and it was time to get out of it before it consumed me.
All I know right now is that sitting in the pain, feeling it, is necessary in order to move forward. I have a hunch that sitting in it means being willing to own and name what I am feeling instead of looking for the quickest means to numb it. There is no hydrant to relieve the heat of the sand. But the desert will either end or become bearable.
This Lenten season I have felt stripped bare. Peeling away layers of illusions. People talk about giving something up for Lent. Illusions fit the bill for me. I am not under an illusion though that this is a one time thing. It's more like a revolving door. Sometimes the door takes you right back to where you started and you stare the same demon in the face; recognizing it's demeanor a little sooner than last time. Sometimes you see it and keep right on going. Sometimes you play kissey face with it; renewing acquaintances at breakneck speed. Other times you come face to face with something you thought was a stranger but has been your bedfellow all along.
Hope lies in the fact that it is a forward journey. Eighteen years ago I could not look myself in the mirror. Could not hold my head up. Today I can and I like what I see. I like me more than I loathe me these days. That is the beauty of hope.