Growth is painful. Change is painful. But, nothing is as painful as staying stuck where you do not belong.
– N.R. Narayana Murthy
My parents were always very good at
exaggerating reminding me how rough they had it as kids. Their treacherous, daily hike to and from their one-room country schoolhouse seemed to always be in the midst of a snowstorm, walking a million miles to school each day.
Uphill, both ways.
It’s a miracle they survived (insert eye roll here). But in the moment back in the day, it helped to put into perspective whatever minor inconvenience I was likely whining about at the time.
And my trusting, naive child’s mind believed them.
When I set out on this journey to reclaiming my sobriety, and in turn, my life, I knew it would be an uphill battle. If sobriety were a switch we could flip and suddenly turn the A-Ha! lights on, we wouldn’t learn anything or truly be able to see how far we’ve come.
We’d just be standing in a bright room without purpose, without understanding, and without any real appreciation of what we’ve accomplished or why.
It takes that gradual, slow illumination like sunrise for our eyes to adjust. It works just the same for the soul.
True appreciation requires patience, time, and work.
It’s universally agreed that addiction is a downward spiral. A steep, slippery slope that we slide down until we hit the first of many rock bottoms. And it’s true – just like Alan Carr’s “Pitcher Plant” analogy – you don’t even realize how far you’ve fallen until it’s too late.
But now, looking back from this 27th day sober – I admit that getting to the point of addiction which I did required effort.
The momentum happened naturally.
But to really get to the “Overachiever Level” of addiction that I did took a lot of time and a lot of energy.
And, a lot of work.
If the path to addiction is a slow slippery slope…why did every day feel like an uphill battle? My daily trek to the liquor store wasn’t so unlike my parents trek to school.
Uphill in a blizzard, and knowing them, with bare feet, too.
Keeping up with the demands my addiction required basically turned my life into a hostage situation.
If I’d satisfy it’s requirements, it would let me survive just one more day.
That was the easy part. Feeding it.
The exhausting, daily uphill battle became made up the simple things. The things that shouldn’t take any effort – unless, of course, you’re an addict who struggles with the most basic shit non-alcoholics take for granted.
Finishing what you’ve started. Starting what you need to begin. Keeping in touch with family and friends. Being social. Paying bills. Keeping promises. Eating. Doing the work. Getting out of bed.
Looking forward to anything instead of dreading everything.
As much as addiction pulled me down, it was a daily uphill battle to willingly keep myself there. I can see now that it wasn’t just alcohol creating that hill – it was me.
I kept myself there, bound to the bottle like a prisoner.
And feeling like a prisoner is emotionally exhausting.
Everything became difficult, as though I was trying to climb an escalator that was forever going down.
So much effort just to stay stuck in the same place.
One day, for lucky ones like me, you finally break free from the hostage situation that alcohol has been keeping you in. You devise your escape plan. You arm yourself with tools and ideas that will help you in the steep uphill climb out of the pit where it kept you – and you kept yourself. You’re lifted out with perseverance, blind faith, and the hands of others just like yourself, all of us caught in different stages of entrapment and escape.
All of us on our way up the hill.
The world isn’t flat.
And neither is our experience on it.
It’s uphill, both ways.
And the most important thing we can learn is to just keep climbing.