I have been reading another recovery book. This one is by Caroline Knapp and is called Drinking: A Love Story. This is her story of alcoholism, how she hit bottom and how she sobered up. Here is one of the passages that touches on the hardships of first becoming sober. It also gives an idea of what a great writer she was:
There’s something about facing long afternoons without the numbing distraction of any sort of anesthesia that disabuses you of the belief in externals, shows you that strength and hope come not from circumstances or the acquisition of things but from the simple accumulation of active experience, from gritting the teeth and checking the items off the list, one by one, even though it’s painful and you’re afraid....Passivity is corrosive to the soul; it feeds on feelings of integrity and pride, and it can be as tempting as a drug. If it feels warm and fuzzy, it is probably the [addictive] choice. If it feels dangerous and scary and threatening and painful, it is probably healthy.
I think that she is writing about the essence of what I have felt. A discomfort with myself and how there are many ways to block out discomforting thoughts that don't have anything to do with substance abuse. I think that over the last couple of years, I've learned to trust my feelings more. And by being honest with myself and my HP about who I am, I have become less fearful about feeling fear and have instead begun to learn from it.
Ms. Knapp died in 2002 from lung cancer. From what I've read, she was a life-long smoker. It's clear from her memoirs that she had a lot of class. And she was a gifted writer. She writes about rehab and the AA meetings she attended. And she writes about her struggle to overcome anorexia which she believed was linked with her disease of alcoholism.
This is really a poignant memoir of someone who appeared so out of sync with herself. She writes about how daunting it was for her to grow up and begin to face her fears.
It seems like such an obvious insight, so simple it borders on the banal, but I'd never before really grasped the idea that growth was something you could choose, that adulthood might be less of a chronological state than an emotional one which you decide, through painful acts, to both enter and mantain. I'd spent most of my life waiting for maturity to hit me from the outside, as though I'd just wake up one morning and be done, like a roast in the oven. But growth comes from the inside out, from trying and failing and trying again. You begin to let go of the wish, age-old and profound and essentially human, that someone will swoop down and do all that hard work, growing up, for you. You start living your own life.
This is a book in which I recognized feelings that I've known and feelings that I've heard expressed by my wife. I highly recommend it.