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Our Dear Addict has returned to the working class in South Africa. Its now wintery mornings find commuters glove clad and solemnly approaching work as Jack Frost nips at their ears. Having travelled to Mozambique and Malawi for work, our addict marvels at the differences between these countries and her home. For as much as the have nots exist unfortunately widely in her own country, the have definitely nots, are much more in abundance in the M Countries she’s visited.

70 days into recovery our addict’s road has become distinctly harder, challenged by offers to break her sobriety. Active addiction you see, is easier and coated with numbness, our tormented addict often longs for. This easyness is deceitful however – it is easy to loose your life, easy to loose your family, easy to loose your job etc. And ain’t no numbness that can ease those kinds of realities, this addict believes.  So, although tempted, this addict resolutely shakes her head and chooses instead, the numb free newness of life she has come to know. 

Being numb free and living life on life’s terms is much more difficult. It is harder to walk and confront each day “bare chested”. It gets easier with time, but more often than not, you get thrown a curveball, a tidal wave of terror that shows you, nigger please style, that you are but a baby in recovery. It sends you for a loop, but reminds me that each day, sometimes each hour, that our addict needs to tread cautiously. Perhaps this new found humility is precisely what the addict God’s intend – a definitive difference from the previously arrogant stance our addict used to take.

So today our addict is recommitting to her path of recovery. Strengthening her resolve to find herself, drug free.

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Seasons of Serenity

Our addict wakes up this morning to the trees changing their attire for the new season. The dresses they struggle out of are flaming red and gold and flitter slowly to the yellowing grass. A chillier wind and season are approaching and its almost laughable that this is when mother nature strips her children of their leafy adornment. Our addict believes that this is akin to undertaking recovery – we strip ourselves of the heavy armour of drugs and insanity we seemingly clad our vulnerable beings with. We shiver in the cold, aflicted with flu and occasional frost bite from living life on life’s terms. Its hard, its cold and more often than not, we long for the devilishly enticing warmth of our self defeating armour.

Perhaps this is focussing on the wrong side of our soul change of season. Its hard to see the point of being stripped bare while it is happening. This our addict intimately understands and is challenged by on a daily basis. The only way she can fathom why is by playing the movie forward – the positive one – that says blossoms will bloom, rebirth will occur and our addicts previously exhausted being will be embraced by long days of warmth that will help her grow instead of acidically eating through the remaining fragments of her pained being. And so she willingly continues in the proverbial pruning of her being, living and being prepared for her new life.

Gifts of recovery – clarity of mind, health, laughter, family and friends you really spend time with are like potting soil on her changing being, mulching her with renewed hope, love, experience and laughter. And although there are fucking difficult times and hardcore moments – our addict loves it. Loves living, the groups, companionship and the blessing of each new dawn. This is only but the beginning of her season of serenity and at the advent of winter in Johannesburg, our addict is wonderfully warmer than she’s ever been.

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Retarded Recovery

Whilst our addict is aware that this may be an offensive title, it truly is reflective of her experience in recovery. Everything from a previously addicted to stimulants point of view, is much retarded. Exhibit a is the experience of emotions. You feel a tingle in your toes and you’re not quite sure what it is. Is it impending foot and mouth disease or are you feeling happy?! The kinda happy that tickles your inside starting with your toes and moves upwards in a giggly way?! I’m never sure but without fail, will be able to classify the emotion approximately a week after our addict has felt it. Er, ok thanks for arriving.

Exhibit b is the experience of time.  Days do seem awfully long for our addict – a stimulant induced environment generally means that life moves at lightening speed. By 09h05, our addict is exhausted having spent a five year long five minutes adjusting to the office. She is truly done for the day at approximately 10h00. Hmm. Exhibit c is most definetly the ability to plan. Our poor addict, having previously had a Bill Gates like stimulant installed super computer of a brain, is now confronted with the dredgery of having to think things through carefully, hence 10h00 tiredness.

There are other more dangerous forms of retarding ones recovery. This includes not going to meetings, not doing one’s step work – I.e. generally retarding our evolution as addicts to true sobriety – understanding our emotions, being aware of and responsible for our actions, and significantly living in the pursuit of always doing the right thing. Hopefully the latter will come with greater ease as time unfolds. It sounds and delayedly feels difficult / impossible to do. But being clean was impossible before too, right? Wrong. In the infancy of her recovery our addict understands the only impossible areas – retardedly or not – are the ones we believe to be. Our addict is slowly stepping through her recovery and enjoying each tiny trot forward.

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The Hum in Humble

Today our addict is humming quietly, she is beginning to make peace with being humble and thus truly living one of the key principles of the NA program – humility. It’s difficult and there are many times when this hum becomes a loud zing of anger and irritation. Being the least, listening to others, and not tooting one’s own not-really-worthy horn is not the easiest feat – let alone something our addict is accustomed to.

Living a life of fuck off – made particularly possible through active addiction – she had not hummed before but rather had streams of opera like mouthing of superlatives to those around her on a daily basis. What she had not had not realised is that this is exhausting, taxing on one’s own eardrums more than the recipient’s. Most frequently through active addiction, we inflict this particular torture on those that are closest to us without really intending to. Perhaps there are times those close to us deserve it – but truth be told, softly sung sonata’s, are usually better received than loud fat lady opera singing or even rock star raving, both of the latter, which she had regularly done.

Learning to hum is the understanding that when we communicate with ourselves better first –we are gentler in understanding the melody of our minds and bodies, and in turn are able to orchestrate that with others in our engagement with them. Our addict underlines that she has by no means mastered the art, but has begun to reap the rewards of being gentler with herself, of being able to acknowledge mistakes when they happen, and to make amends as soon as she is feasibly able to. And that ain’t about forgiving others – it’s about choosing to travel lightly, enjoy life, and the little songs of recovery we receive each day.

These gifts range from being just on time for something, sipping a wonderful ‘aah’ cup of coffee, listening to your favourite song, being smiled at and smiling in return etc. They change from person to person and from experience to experience. There is also the bad and sad as there always is, but humility allows us to address these crescendos and staccatos of our lives with greater deftness – not leaving us unscathed, but less scathed than active addiction would allow.

So today our addict is humming quietly to herself – grateful for the quiet melodious serenity that continues to caress her being, stroking her life with Mozart like happiness and joy, in her pursuit of clean song. Hum with me.

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Microscopic Me

Our addict lays splayed on the viewing glass. Her hands and feet pinned in a star shape so the scientist can more easily microscopically view each component of her being. The exo-skeleton of drugs crusted onto her body through active addiction, hiding and hardening the soft gentle inner most parts of her being. The scientist prods her, and she squirms under the scrutiny of rehabilitation – feeling feelings her supposed to be protective exo skeleton was deemed to guard against.

When little, she didn’t need an exo skeleton she thought. The world beckoned with possibility and opportunities abounded but, through each traumatic attack, she evolved the childlike being into the doom resistant cockroach she became through active addiction. It was necessary she believed to protect her from the constant prying predators that would scoop her flesh and devour it greedily way before it was even close to ready to be consensually consumed.

The microscopic angles on her body find layer upon layer of exo skeleton developed in response to the whirlwind turmoil of life she had come to know. Perhaps she reasons, drug addicts are scientific miracles, perhaps their exo skeletons are deftly developed mechanisms to protect them. No! The scientist implores – the exo skeleton’s main flaw is that whilst providing the shield the source requires, it is momentary, and in turn consumes its creator. In essence it is not protective but predatory in itself, and in order for the creature – she – to survive it needs to divest itself of the shield and each layer she cryingly sought.

This is what recovery is – a process to peel off each layer of arsenic trauma protection we so carefully layered in attempts to protect ourselves. These layers you see, stop anything else from getting through. Love, real laughter, happiness, and joy. Arsenic layers do not contain filters – but rather block out all the wonder of the world, those we love, our responsibilities – and the world’s extremity. It is not protective over the latter – even if we believe it to be.

So crawling slowly from the dark, our addict cockroach emerges, cautiously optimistic to see what the world of light holds. She has already begun divesting much of the exo skeleton she believed so valuable and has the softness of her being exposed. As much as this is frightening, it is wondrous – to see just maybe, that the world is not as bad a place as she believed it to be. Today, our addict believes that she will begin slowly to shed her sadness, the filth of the darkness, and evolve to a place of joy, peace, serenity, anger, irritation – because there is the good with the bad, not the terror and turmoil – but the waves of life we are required to crash through, be swept upon, be engulfed by in our steps forward to just be. Our addict just for today is less cockroach like in the ongoing journey of recovery. Come with me.

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A God Directed Life after 10 Please?

Our addict has resolutely decided that she can only feasibly live a god directed life after 10 each morning. It is simply unrealistic to apply serenity and doing the right thing prior to this, when coffee levels are low, and irritation levels high. Each morning, her life is set to Beethoven like symphonies with the clang of the base clef hitting her precisely, on the already pounding non-existent frontal lobe she boasts.

The trouble you see – that this is much about living life on life’s terms. This is something all addicts are confronted by and need to work through. She knows this. But, she would like ‘life’ to either go on antidepressants, or alternatively to take a massive gulp of a cup of fuck off. She feels generally better after 10, once her caffeine levels have stabilised – and once the opportunity to say the serenity prayer a million times a second has presented itself. It does, with nauseating frequency each morning.

This ranges from her toddler’s defiance, and in her toddler’s words – her emotional fragility disabling her from going to school. Second number one. Her husband, snoringly turning over, suggests that she’d be a darling for grabbing a him a cup of coffee before beginning her morning meditations. Oh dear darling, not sure if this may have struck you at any point, but morning meditations are about easing into the day, not replacing the filter on the coffee machine. Seconds, seconds, seconds.

Life would not be so challenging she admonishes, if she had, in a good friend’s words, a tad bit of chemical assistance. She shall on her next appointment be requesting that her psychiatrist suggest something calming that would reduce her need to strangle and murder her loved ones before 7 in the am. She is positive her psychiatrist will not oblige but it cannot hurt to ask she thinks.

Soon our addict shall be taking to different shores, and is excited about the opportunity of visiting London in October. Her first travels will take her to the warmness of Mozambique, and the rest of the plans shall unfold from there. She has decided that she shall plan to go to Paris on her next visit to London. It is non-sensical to be on that side of the world and not undertake at least one calming activity. Aside from that, she decides, berets could look very cute, let alone the musical French accent melodiously cascading around her. Confronting the land of wine and cheese shall be a bridge she will cross when getting there.

All in all – our addict has not had a bad weekend but is beginning her week on a somewhat less than serene note. Oh, she shall try to make her mornings less murderous – but is baffled at how to achieve this. Our addict is yet again, injury inflicting irritatedly, yours in recovery.

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Please Dont You You Rock My Boat

Our addict this morning is quietly reflecting on a life of recovery. Recovery is much like being pushed on a mere rubber dinghy into the ocean of life and being told to row, motherfucker, row.

The seas of life are turbulent but occassionally calm. And its those moments of occassional calm, where the sun embraces the ripple of the water, the air pungent with the fresh aroma of peace that we breathe and are thankful to be free from the insanity that so ruthlessly gripped our lives before.

There are also tsunamis of terror that engulf you, ranging from the basic banal existence life can be, to serious trauma and pain. Your recovery and the pillars of it – your sponsor, therapy, meetings, self care, and step work – are there to bouy you through the difficult times.

But you will have difficult patches – points where you feel your head is being plunged deeper and deeper under water. You do come up though – and this is most where we have to remember to breathe, slowly, deeply. That is precisely what our addict is doing now.


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