An Earlier Crossroads

July 23, 2012

A fellow traveler in recovery inspired a thought last night: I don’t think I’ve ever worked as diligently on anything in my life as my recovery. I was a consistent addict; I was a fantastic textbook addict, really, in how I was regularly frustrated and floored by how little I’d get done in a day despite having really, really good and strong intentions. My artistic output withered, my anxiety skyrocketed, my relationships crumbled all because I was good at being an addict. Thank God, I’ve been vigilant in my recovery since then. If I can put a tenth of the energy into my sobriety as I put into my acting out, I should do pretty well in my process of recovery. I feel like however tempted I may become, and I still often am, I know I don’t want to go back to the hell of active addiction.

The only other time in my life I came to a crossroads from which there would be no returning to the life I previously lived, was in college. Back then, I was buffeted by a maelstrom of opinions on all things political, social, and racial. See, I’m half-Black and half-white and I’m very fair-skinned and my fellow students, no matter what their race, were always trying to define me in their terms for me. That didn’t last too long. Midway through sophomore year, I decided I knew who I was, I knew what I felt; and I knew that no matter what everyone’s opinions, I was going to project and protect the deep core of my persona. And honest to God, from that point on, everyone else’s views on how Black or white I was didn’t matter. My feelings would still sometimes get hurt, but my essential identity was unshakable.

My recovery is similar. That’s not to deny that I am fallible and can slip if I’m not watching my footsteps, but the steadfastness of my recovery comes from the consistent daily practice of the tools I’ve learned. And from the unshakable acceptance that I am an addict and that walking this path availed me works. I know I want to stay sober and I’ve learned how I can. There’s a distinct upkeep in recovery that can’t parallel my past racial identity quandary, but the core belief that I know better how to live now — I know healthier how to live now — helps prevent me from returning to the hell of my past acting out. What is unchangeable in my recovery is the realization and the acceptance that I have the ability to choose every day, one day at a time, to do the work of tending to my spirituality.

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