The cumbersome language of recovery
Sitting in a support group meeting for supporters and recovering addicts last night, I was amazed at how many controls need to be in place for the ‘silly season’ in order to not relapse. Silly season, being December and in early January when many relapses take place.
I made the comment that in their trying to be free of the restrictions of life, society, the norm, their quest for freedom, ‘I did it my way’, all you do is land up with a whole bunch more restrictions in trying to ‘make a life for yourself.’
I see young people trying to ‘be free’ and make their own choices, to get out of being told what to do and saying ‘it’s my life!’ What lands up happening is they jump into a new group all doing the same thing in their quest for going against the norm. The big difference is that now they are more than likely in a very destructive group with grave consequences, like death or prison.
Excerpt from the book “Smacked” by Melinda Ferguson –
“A cursory look at sheep – For me, becoming a drug addict was to escape the flocky, flock, flock. I wanted to be different, stand out from the crowd, be somebody, be counted. Oh yes, what a noble aim…but in the end I turned into a shadow, a sheep in rebels clothing, but a sheep nonetheless. And once on the outside, I began to crave that flock, to fit in, have a family, a community, a feeling of togetherness, something that would fill the big hole that grew and grew with every hit I took.
“Instead, I landed up alone at the table with heroin, skipping the starters, main course, dining only on the dessert of brown, eating, breathing, living, dying, excreting heroin. We are all sheep, just in different sheep pens. We jump from one pen to the next to escape something, and find something similar.
“Different sub cultures, different sheep pens, but all sheep. Try get away from the sameness, but just land up in a different pile of sameness.”
For a good recovery to take place, simple routines were spoken of like make your bed. shave, shower, eat, exercise, have a devotion, have a plan for your day. Keep busy because idleness is your greatest enemy. No old places, friends and things that could trigger you. No thought of even joining in on some aimless, drunken New Years party, in fact not even one drink ever again for the rest of your life! Such vigilance needs to be given to the recovery process. Such passion and enthusiasm to stay clean.
Quest for freedom brings more restrictions
When I mentioned that there are way more restrictions this side of trying to get away from a life of restrictions in your quest for freedom, one person said that once you flip it in your head that putting all of this in place because you “want to” and not because you “have to” is what brings freedom back into the process. I get that, but I am speaking from an addict’s mom’s perspective, so I know I am thinking differently and I honestly felt so frustrated listening to all those restrictions, even though I know full well that they are vital for a good and lifelong recovery. If we only lived a life of being careful from the start, we would actually not need to put all these extra controls in place. Bad and unwise choices just bring more restrictions in order to rehabilitate us. I know I sound like I am talking in circles, but I just wish that all young people could see ahead to the destruction that could come their way. We need to keep talking to them and giving them the knowledge so that they can make wise choices.
My thought processes and questions are coming from a place long before addiction ever became a lifelong problem and I wish for the ideal world of no-one ever making that choice to take that first puff and potentially sending them off to a lifetime of addiction. It’s a cry of my heart for my own child, but also to those I have come into contact with and the millions around the world who suffer.
We are all told to be careful and watch out because the days are evil. We need to put this vigilance thinking into our kids from the start. We need to all be living lives of vigilance and good routines.
I love that sheep illustration that I shared earlier because it reminds me that we have a Shepherd that has a pen just for us (his sheep) with guidelines and boundaries for us to live by that are never meant to be seen as restrictive, but by following them out of our own free will because we see their benefit, that’s where the freedom comes in and grace abounds. So many people look at the 10 Commandments and things like not getting drunk, not sleeping with someone before you are married as highly restrictive, and yet, quite to the contrary, they are only there for our benefit and our good. God never sets things in place that are for our detriment. Funny enough, when we don’t live by these guidelines, that’s when freedom goes out the window and restrictions arrive as I have already described. Our lives just become more confusing, destructive and unmanageable.
How can drinking until you are drunk and totally out of control ever be seen as a good thing? No-one can give a positive outcome to that, and yet it is becoming more and more acceptable without many thinking it through. I hear people say ‘Oh we did that, went though that stage when we were young!” Many parents support their children going on Matric Rage when it’s mostly about a week of ‘no food, being drunk, sex and drugs,’with death, disease, rape and unwanted pregnancy sitting right there on the doorstep. I read a post on Facebook a few days ago by a policeman in Durban saying that under-18 parties are not alcohol free as they smuggle alcohol in, some with their parents’ knowledge and some through hedges later in the evening.
Where are the voices calling for vigilance?
Where are the voices saying be vigilant, don’t get drunk etc etc? I am sure they are out there, but they are not making a big enough noise! Why has it come down to a group of volunteers called the Red Frogs who go to many of these Rage parties and music festivals to try and safeguard this and coming generations? I am hugely thankful to them because they see the huge need, but I am so sick and tired of some parents saying “shame, I just want my kids to be happy”, and at the same time throwing money and things at them in some quest to be a cool parent, or being totally ignorant of what is going on out there.
Giving your kids whatever they want, materially and other ways, is not being a cool parent; it’s just setting them up for a life of “me first” and having the means to support a drug or drinking habit if they choose to go down that path. The whole concept of always getting what you want creates an entitled and arrogant child, and addiction is known as a disease of arrogance, no humility and never being wrong. The blame always gets put onto someone else and excuses abound. So we need to teach our kids humility and vulnerability and the fact that they will always need others around them in life. That will set them up to live life with courage and excellence.
At the same time as imploring parents to do whatever they can to raise children who will hopefully make good choices, ultimately we need to realise that most times it is a choice to have that first smoke or drink, and we also cannot beat ourselves up for our childrens’ choices.
I think you can hear the cry of my heart. It’s a painful road to travel for all involved and I will keep looking for opportunities to educate others of the dangers up ahead.