One of the things I hear over and over in recovery is that you can’t stop going to meetings. From the outside looking in, it’s depressing because it seems like I’ve got to stay focused on the dark side if I want to have a good life. Do I really need to have my sex addiction rubbed in my face for the rest of my life? That’s what my mom did to the cats when they peed on the rug.
I’ve been surprised to find that I still like going to meetings, although I definitely don’t go as often as I used to. I’m not as desperate or needy and my sexual behavior is no longer spiraling out of control into the land of the dark and bizarre so I’m less willing to spend 4 or 8 hours in the car (the meeting is 2 hours away). I think it’s because the whole cat metaphor is wrong. The disease model is really a better way to understand addiction. Forget you have diabetes and you’re stepping that much closer to death. It’s not a punishment. It’s life.
I know a really good doctor who actually has his patients claim their disease, just like we do in recovery. I’m Bob, and I have high blood pressure. I’m Mary and I have cancer. I’m Joe, and I have diabetes. I’m Jane and my son is a drug addict. He has them raise their right hand and look right into his eyes as they say this. Many of them have real trouble doing this, and many break down crying afterward. This doctor has noticed that his patients do better when the two of them are on the same team, dealing with the disease than when the patient is expending energy in denial. Some patients refuse, but not many because they must sense that he’s trying to help. There’s no shaming, or belittling going on, it’s an acknowledgement of the truth, which usually hurts like hell, but it will also set you free. Because after the crying and the hugging is done, the work can begin, whether it’s medication, hospice care, a change in diet, or rehab and recovery. None of those decisions are easy. None of those paths are easy. But they can be rewarding.
Whatever your truth is, I hope you will claim it. And I hope you have people in your life who are brave enough to tell you the truth, to hold you when you cry, and to witness the work you do.
Eventually, part of that work will be to pay it forward. And that’s where 12-step groups can shine because they’re really good venues for paying it forward, otherwise known as the 12th step.
So why the piranha skeleton? Maybe it’s a metaphor that bites. I don’t know. Somehow truth, death, and gratitude are all mixed up together here. It’s multifaceted. hehe.