Getting away with it… The concept, in and of itself, quite literally ushered in a deep exhale of relief in my addiction. Those old behaviors and mindsets. The sophomoric middle-school thinking and behaving that guided me through my adolescence, 20s & 30s. That’s how long I chose to stay stuck. Yes, that’s how long I got away with it. Or so I thought, anyway.
In my core, I believe I was born a good, trustworthy, spiritually connected, honest, open, and willing being. Then there’s a rather deep layer of my experiences and twisted perception. A thick hardened layer of adipose and sludge that, despite my efforts to alter its chemistry, is semi-impervious. I say ‘semi’ because I believe in hope. Then there is the outer layer, the person that I am becoming. This layer is accepting as well as susceptible to external and internal influences. The person I’m becoming is receptive-to a degree of course- as the middle layer will allow on any given day.
One of the beautiful gifts of my recovery has been the weakening in random molecules of that center layer. As I grow, so do the quantity of permeable spots of that convoluted perception of world, relationships, life.
I recently stumbled on a twitter by someone I follow, @Andy_15052012, expressing gratitude for his second chance at (a proper) life. “Super-ironic,” he writes, “I’m now driving in a professional capacity. I could have (should have?) lost my driving license permanently in my drinking days.” Oh how I relate. Something I for certain, take for granted most days. Hundreds if not thousands of times, I could have landed on the other end of a traffic calamity and/or fatality. The fact is, in my bustling addiction, I exponentially increased the odds of my own demise, institutionalization, prison living, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. Somehow, I ‘got away with it’.
Very early in my recovery I recall this ‘getting away with it’ conception coming to light in my life. A dear friend’s daughter was driving home from college for the Thanksgiving holiday. As she was making her way around a curve in the road that I had driven hundreds of times, she bent down to pick something up and ran off the road. Not wearing a seatbelt, she was ejected from the car and died. Jessica was just 19 years old. She was not impaired. This was a monumental moment of pivot within my slowly sobering life. Jessica didn’t get away with it. Something I had done on countless occasions with alcohol on board, yet I never appreciated the entire potential outcome. I got away with it.
Within days of Jessica’s passing, I was at a meeting where a gentleman was expressing remiss for missing a doctor’s appointment in order to do something he had prioritized, yet in retrospect realized wasn’t so important. He lived another day. For the last 5-6 years of my tornado of a life in active addiction, I rarely bothered to go to a doctor, dentist, scarcely ever exercised, was markedly underweight and malnourished, and my hair was falling out. I got away with it. Physically, although unraveling, I did.
It was when the spiritual bankruptcy occurred. When I stopped believing the bullshit festering in my soul that I was able to crawl into submission and ask for help. When those things that I did that never bothered me… started to bother me. I stopped getting away with it. Somehow a vulnerable fragment in that middle hardened layer had allowed an opening down to the goodness at my core. Once there is a weakness it seems, the lessons come in droves. Perhaps it’s the widening of that minuscule hole, allowing spirituality, wisdom, love, growth to percolate to the surface. Or perhaps new infinitesimal holes are haphazardly forming as lessons are presented.
Whatever the process, it continues. The journey ceases to expire. With each new chink in the armor, hole in the layer, lesson learned, there’s another one trailing behind it. The sun shines a little more brightly each day that I keep sobriety and recovery first.
Today, I regularly see doctors, dentists, go to work, workout, and try to remain responsible and accountable. Am I grateful for the days of getting away with it? yes and no. I’m grateful to be alive today to be on this quest for better, healthier living. However, I also know that ‘getting away with it’ kept me sick for a very long time. So gone is the acceptance of such rubbish mental processes and behaviors. Gone are those that have emerged as such along the path of my recovery. And I pray for light to be shed on those yet to be seen.
Yours in Recovery,