Friday, February 29, 2008

Celebrity Rehab is Compelling

I've been watching
Celebrity Rehab on VH1 and it's some of the most compelling television. It's a great inside look at just how hard it is to recover from addiction. It's also sad to see the power of addiction in the lives of people who'll literally die if they don't stop using. I said a whole lot more in my last post about this but didn't provide the link.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Celebrity Rehab on VH1

I was up late last night. I don't often stay up late because I like to get up early and workout. But it was Friday night and I sleep in a bit on Saturday. Anyway, not the point of this post. While up late I was surfing and came across the latest installment of Celebrity Rehab on VH1. I've seen bits and pieces of other episodes and often find it too painful to watch. It was painful last night, too, but I stuck with it. I don't know most the "celebrities" that are in rehab on the show but this is one reality show that's way too real.

The struggles they're having just to get a grip on a base level of sobriety are compelling. It reminds me of the early days of sobriety when all I could think about was stopping my primary addictive behavior. I couldn't see the selfishness and obsessive need for self protection that was driving my addictive behavior. I found myself last night wanting to jump through the screen and help Dr. Drew explain to these people that their self protection mechanisms are so far out of whack that they're literally killing themselves.

That's the paradox of addiction. Addiction is driven by self protection as we desperately try to cope with the pain of living amongst other human beings. As we sort through the pain inflicted upon us by others in our lives and the pain we've subsequently inflicted on others the addict tells us to guard our hearts, our emotions, our very lives from everyone. When a caring person starts to break through that protective shell we run for cover. Watch this show and you'll see it in every episode. People act out addictively, someone cares for them and calls them on it, they react by running away. The problem is that the only way to heal, in part, is to engage in healthy relationships. You can't protect yourself from everyone and be healthy. Vulnerability is terrifying to an addict. And so self protection blossoms into self destruction that, far to often, ends in tragic death.

I don't know if I'll get hooked on this show or not. But with just the little I've watched I find my heart going out especially to Jeff Conway (I'm pretty sure that's his name) who I remember best from the movie Grease. You can literally see his addictive self protection mechanism ferociously fighting to claim his life. His addiction is bound and determined to kill him and, as terrified and conflicted as he is, he seems defenseless against it. It makes me angry to see addiction that is so powerful. It's almost like demonic possession. If nothing else, this show graphically demonstrates just how difficult it is to get into recovery and stay in recovery even when your very life depends on it. Don't take recovery lightly people because your addict isn't easily defeated.

Friday, February 22, 2008


Having a sponsor is so important. Having a good sponsor can be really hard. I've had a couple of sponsors in my years in recovery. I lost my first sponsor when I moved away. My sponsor now is having some health concerns and has left the area to seek treatment. I don't like the process of finding a sponsor. It requires taking risks, sharing my stuff one more time and getting to know the person. I, personally, find that difficult. In my experience many addicts struggle with interpersonal relationships because addiction is so self-focused. Having a sponsor is a very important interpersonal relationship...and a challenging one. It's no wonder that people in recovery have a hard time finding and keeping a sponsor.

That being said, I must admit that I've recently become a sponsor myself. It's a new thing for me and I'm not sure I'm doing it very well just yet. We meet weekly and the conversations are getting better, in my opinion. I want to be a good sponsor. I want to challenge my sponsee to be honest in his recovery. In some ways I'm trying to be the sponsor I'd like but haven't really had yet.

The point of this post...if there is to admit that sponsorship is a challenge on both sides of it. But I guess that most of the things that make recovery truly useful are difficult. Attending meetings, working the twelve steps, having a sponsor, being a sponsor, all these would be easier not to do. Recovery is easier not to do until you hit bottom and realize that your life has become unmanageable. Then recovery becomes necessary to survival. Then you can do the hard things that recovery requires...all the hard things.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Sick and Struggling

Getting sick is the worst! It's not even like I'm terribly sick. It's just some congestion in my chest and a general achey feeling. But being sick seems to weaken my resolve in other areas. I find I'm really struggling lately with the whole compulsive overeating thing. For me being sick leads to a desire for "comfort food". What's comforting about overeating and eating the wrong things and putting on weight is beyond me. It's not comforting at all. Of all my addictive struggles the struggle with food is the absolute worst...for me, anyway. In my opinion this is because you can't stop eating. I suppose I could stop eating and that would solve all sorts of problems in about two to three weeks! That's not the kind of solution I'm interested in.

Anyway, no great pearls of insight or wisdom today. Just me being sick and feeling a bit sorry for myself because I can't seem to get my head around this food addiction thing. One day at a time...

Monday, February 18, 2008

Still Recovering

This month is my fourth anniversary of being in recovery! That doesn't mean I've maintained sobriety in my areas of addiction for four years. It means that I've been working, growing and learning through regular participation in recovery meetings for four years now. Sometimes I stumble but I've never let my stumbles derail me.

I've come to learn that recovery is a process...a journey...not a destination. When I first joined recovery I thought, "I'll get my act together in this one area and then I'll move on." When I heard people talk about being in recovery for ten or twenty or thirty years there was a part of me that scoffed. It can't be that hard to get things under control and get back to "normal".

Well, here I am four years into my own personal recovery and it's beginning to dawn on me that this is a lifetime commitment. Just yesterday I reacted in addictive ways while having a conversation with my wife. It was unpleasant and hurtful. Just last Friday I was in a meeting and two days later I'm doing something based in addiction. The upside is I can recognize that and make amends (part of being in recovery is having your antennae up for when you screw up).

Recovery isn't easy and it isn't quick. I think one of the reasons so many addicts fail in recovery is because part of addiction is the need for a quick fix. I want to be healthy and I want to be healthy right now! If I'm not better in a month or two then it's just not worth it. Those addictive thought patterns wage war on our ability to do the very hard work it takes to get sober and stay sober. We can't count on our own thought processes in most...if not all...cases, and especially not when it comes to recovery. That's why we have sponsors, attend meetings, have accountability partners and seek the counsel of others.

Yes, I'm still in recovery and, Lord willing, it's for life!