In my disease I felt like life was unfair on a daily basis; that things were constantly “happening” to me with little provocation on my own part, and that I’d never be able to find peace or serenity as long as these outside forces continued to work against me. I found myself questioning the nature of life itself regularly – feeling like Sisyphus from the fabled myth; continuously pushing the proverbial bolder up a hill, only for it to roll down again endlessly. Self-pity and victim-hood were a mindset I lived in daily.
I remember days of utter blackness; mired in the absurd task of repeating the same behaviors over and over, using consistently to try and mitigate my feelings of hopelessness with more drugs – only to see the cycle of depression, anxiety, and pain, being borne again from my futile attempts at narcotizing them enough to not feel. It was miserable. It was indeed, in the truest sense of the word, completely futile. You simply cannot bury these aspects of the human experience with substances and expect it to work forever. The days of relief from heroin or other drugs became shorter and shorter, and the consequences of my actions in doing so became greater the more I continued to follow this dismal path.
Through it all, I was blind to the fact that my struggle, my enduring challenge of living, was of my own making. I was in full flight from reality. I was in complete denial that this was anything that I had done to myself – or was a result of the poor choices that I’d made. I consistently was looking for solutions to my issues inside of myself – which had become rotten to the core with self-pity.
The 12-step program, addiction recovery rehabilitation programs, the love people in recovery showed me in some of my worst moments; those were what carried me. That was the beginning. On my own power I could have never loved myself in those early days. I could never see my way out of the self-pity – the thought that my problems were a result of something other than myself. But through those support groups, through the kindness that was shown to me, I eventually came to realize the futility wasn’t inherently a part of life itself; it was in the thought processes I had willingly, and unwillingly engaged in for years.
It took an epic level of pain, stress, and misery to reach that point of submission – that moment of willingness to listen to what others had to say for long enough to begin to challenge those ingrained, diseased thought processes that mired me in self-pity. Today I’m grateful for them. It wasn’t until I accepted responsibility for my own behavior, and asked for help to change, that I was able to heal. Through peer support, and professional help, those previously held beliefs that I could constantly blame someone else for my struggles began to fall away. Then, the true healing began.
I still fall into these maladaptive thought patterns at times; if I’m not mindful, I can start blaming all kinds of outside circumstances for any number of given challenges I might come up against. I can start feeling sorry for myself at the drop of a hat. The difference today is in my ability to recognize that. To take responsibility and rise to the occasion; to challenge those thoughts – to see them for what they are (useless) and find a way to move forward.
People are always going to let you down. The world itself – its institutions, injustices – all of it – are going to let you down. Inevitably, we’ll even let ourselves down from time to time. The amount of energy we expend ruminating on those things – the amount of time we choose to engage in a “woe is me” line of thinking, ultimately, is up to us. Incredible freedom, serenity, and peace, flowed into my life, over time, after letting go of the victim mentality, embracing responsibility for my own actions – my reaction to circumstances outside my control – and my own recovery.
Peace be with you, friends.
You can read, comment and ask questions for Sean to address in his blog on the PAL website, home page – www.Palgroup.org