The longer I’m in recovery the more I realize how much of my time I spent in mental defense against the truth concerning my drinking and using. I didn’t want to face the truth about myself and how I was truly feeling and behaving. There’s even at technical name for this mental defense: compartmentalization.
Basically compartmentalization is keeping a problem isolated, separated, from other important issues.
I did this for years in my own drinking and using. I blamed the problems in my life, in my schoolwork, and in my relationships, on everything but my drug and alcohol abuse.
My thought process often went like this: Sure, my dad and I fight constantly, but that’s because he’s overly controlling and mean. Yeah, I’m flunking out of school, but that?s because my classes are boring.
I completely blocked out the idea that maybe my relationship with my dad was so bleak because my disrespect for his rules was creating extreme tension, and maybe I was failing school because I was getting high and drunk every day before class.
Alcohol and drugs were on an untouchable pedestal for me, separate from everything else in my life. They were my gods; they were my saviors. They could do and cause no wrong. I honestly believed that I didn’t have a problem with alcohol and drugs; life was just unfair to me.
I hear compartmentalizing tendencies in myself, in 12 Step meetings sometimes, and especially often in newcomers. People will say they only have a problem with drugs, completely ignoring the fact that alcohol is also a mind altering drug they have used numerous times to black out.
Honestly, from my personal experience, I have come to believe that my greatest chance of recovery can only come from total abstinence from any type of mind-altering substances. There can be no compartmentalizing, no “weed is just a harmless plant”, or “?I’m not abusing the Zanax because I have a prescription.”
Nothing exists in isolation. Everything that we do, say and consume has an effect on our lives and the lives of those around us. Complete recovery requires total abstinence! When we’re high or drunk, we don’t learn from our life experiences, we just react to them! We’re not present or emotionally and mentally accessible. Not only that, but drinking and using greatly hinders our ability to be honest, open minded and willing. Thus, finding a peaceful, spiritual way to live our lives becomes practically impossible.
It’s no secret that drugs and alcohol numb our feelings and consequently stop our growth process. If we are altering our NATURAL state with drugs and alcohol, we won’t be able to see the truth about ourselves! We must face our emotions and learn to accept them if we wish to change. This often requires looking into our soul to see our deepest fears and hates. It may seem too painful or unnecessary at first, but facing these character defects is the beginning to the healing process. The more we clear out toxic emotions like resentment and fear, the more our mind will clear and calm down.
Not only that, but the use of ANY drugs greatly increases the possibility of using our drug of choice again by lowering our mental, emotional, physical and spiritual resistance to it. Once that door is open even a little bit, it’s easy for our addict/alcoholic minds to start the sick wheels turning. “Wouldn’t this joint go great with a beer?” or “I’ve drank too much whiskey. Some cocaine would be a really nice pick me up.” Sound familiar?
In conclusion, keep in mind that we only have so many moments, so many days, to live. It may sound morbid, but I want it to be inspirational. Each breath we take is one closer to our last. In contrast to the life span of our universe, we humans are but a twitch in time.
To live life fully, deeply and sweetly requires our full presence, attention and dedication. As far as I have been able to tell, living life this way isn’t possible in the grips of alcohol and drugs. Abstinence may seem like a burden at first, but it undoubtedly becomes freedom.