Addiction is a painfully familiar disease. Every single person you come face to face with in this world has a story to tell about a loved one that has been consumed by alcohol, drug addiction, gambling, sex addiction, or something that takes away the person they once loved and leaves a broken shell behind. I am no exception. During my teen years, marijuana (of course) was a big deal among the grunge and wanna-be hippie crowd I ran with. It was never my thing. I didn't understand why anyone would want to consume something that made you hungrier. Like I needed that. I always had pretty clear boundaries about what I would be involved with. Meth (called crank at the time) hit my hometown hard in the mid 90's along with ecstasy within the rave culture. I totally love techno, but I saw too many people chewed up and spit out by these hard drugs, so I just kept my distance.
This was long before I knew anything about boundaries or codependency.
Since I was born to be a social worker, I found myself drawn to friends or love interests that struggled with substance abuse. This was long before I knew anything about boundaries or codependency. As a young thing, if a friend told me they were "cutting" or self-medicating, I would long to help because I have always felt compassion for people in pain. As time went on, my compassion lessened. The people I cared for manipulated, took advantage, and in essence turned on me. While I understand the powerlessness of addiction, it's excruciating to witness, or get in the way of someone set on self-destruction. Enter Bill.
Bill is the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous. I frequently see patients who struggle with substance abuse, and when I suggest the program to them, I get the answer "I can't go to a meeting! I'm not one of those people." I'm not sure what people you think I'm talking about, but I'm pretty sure they are broken too. Addiction is an equalizer. I don't care if you're a successful executive or a homeless man on the street begging for change. You're both powerless over your disease. What I love about AA is that they have saved people I love. I have seen absolute and and total rebirth in people that would have otherwise died. This program not only offers peer support, anonymity, and active tools that allow you to cope with life without drugs/alcohol- but it offers hope. From the darkness of a "bottom"- comes the hope of someone with 25 years of sobriety accepting their birthday chip.
I'm thankful for Bill because I know how much healing has resulted from this program. It has touched my life, and the lives of so many I know. There are miracles and tragedies. Some people have to make it their first 24 hours of sobriety over and over again. The thing is, you have to get back on the horse. It's worth it. Have you seen the movie 28 days with Sandra Bullock? It's about one of my favorite VHS tapes (in my dusty collection I refuse to get rid of). The moment she is put in rehab and really looks at herself in the mirror for the first time- you can almost see the light bulb go off. The "holy crap, what happened to me?" moment. I wish that for people. I deeply long for every person in the pain of their addiction to get to that very moment and begin to heal. Thank you Bill. Thank you for your legacy, and the lives you have resurrected from bar stools. Recovery is possible and I am truly thankful for the hope it provides. What are you thankful for? Happy Gratitude Tuesday.