By Tim Stoddart
I don’t have all the answers. I certainly do not pretend to. In writing this article, I want it to be known that what I say is just my opinion. It is made from the conclusions I have drawn from an ongoing collection of life experiences. My discoveries are a continuous process of trial and error; I think that’s the way it should be. I got clean at the young age of 23. I had my last drink with my father the day before I went to treatment. I left for a halfway house immediately after saying goodbye to my grandfather. He was living his last days in a hospital, having suffered from a stroke. When I hugged him good bye, he told me he loved me and that he was proud of me. I left the hospital and got on a plane. That’s the last time I ever saw that wonderful man. In his final days he told me that “life shrinks and expands in proportion to ones courage”. I keep those words close to my heart, because I have spent my entire life being a victim of fear. I am still fearful, but my grandfather helps me push through my fear. He helps me have courage, and therefore helps me be happy.
That was the beginning of my journey. As time passed, I have found that my mind is my greatest gift and also my greatest curse. Human intelligence used to be the basis of my Higher Power. Everything can be explained and measured in science, and intellect was all mighty. Looking back I see the pressure that kind of thinking can put on humanity. If we claim to know all the answers, than what do we do with the questions we don’t have answers to? The biggest questions of all will always be, what is the meaning of all this? Addiction is powerful. I don’t know the dictionary definition of obsession, but I would describe it as a thought that overpowers all other thoughts. In short, when I am in active addiction, it is the focal point of all my thinking. I don’t think about my family, I don’t think about my bills, I forget to eat, I forget to drink water, I forget about my little sister and how much she means to me. I don’t think about what it must be like for her to find rolled up dollar bills and residue on my table. There is no other force in the world that can hold power over a person like addiction.
At the end of the day, I stay clean because I need to. I stay clean because the odds are stacked against me, because there is an ever present voice whispering to me, telling me that I am like everyone else. That I deserve a drink because that’s just what people do. In this regard, my ego will save my life, because I am too stubborn to let that devious whispering voice get the best of me. I stay clean because it is the greatest achievement and accomplishment I will ever do with my life. One day at a time. Kingdom
In closing, I want to express my feelings on our future and the potential we hold. I think that addicts in general have a special way of thinking. We are problem solvers, we are go getters, we are obsessive compulsive beings who, when forced to, always find a way to get what we want. I have learned to harness my thinking, and use it for good. When there is something I want to accomplish, I have learned that there is absolutely nothing holding me back from chasing my dreams. With that being said, I have gained great comfort in the fact that if something doesn't go my way, that is because my God probably knows something that I do not. What we have is the keys to kingdom, and anything is possible.
Tim works of Sober Nation a directory of addiction treatment centres.