The Summer of Run: Within the Deluge

I just finished the draft of my second essay for The Summer of Run: An Addict’s Journey. “Within the Deluge” tells the story of my very first moments at my very first campground, as the skies opened up and I was forced to pitch in some pretty terrible conditions. This is from Act 3 of that story.

I recognized this rocky beginning from the first days of my sobriety, which were spent in utter despair. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t sleep. I was physically ill several times a day. Functioning in the way that most humans think about going about their day was a mystery to me; my days were spent hanging on the side of a cliff, white-knuckling as it’s called in Alcoholics Anonymous. Days would pass as I sat in a large, green chair facing a multi-tiered white wall in my apartment, longing for death until eventually there were small, brief moments when my mind would stop revving and I’d experience a moment of pure quiet. It was then I knew I could be sober.

I search for that same type of stillness now when the chaos of life invades my space; it’s my guidepost that let’s me know everything will work itself out. This is the great gift that recovering from addiction brings. It’s an earned knowledge about the universe: the life will work itself out in the manner it needs to work out. That’s a freedom that most experience on a daily basis, and yet they seem to fail to openly appreciate the great gift that brings The Humans.

When I drank, I had an obsessive, narcissistic, compulsive need to maintain the illusion of control in every element of my life. It’s much more than a sickness. It’s a black hole, pulling every emotion and action from the people within your sphere into a laser-like focused worldview where every action and reaction is filtered through the lens of the addict. Nothing happened, specifically or tangentially, that wasn’t sucked through the black hole first, controlled and swallowed before being spit back out with no pretense of concern for others.

Those days as I knew them were long gone, three years behind me. Each day, I’ve pulled farther from the black hole although addicts are never out of its pull. It’s a daily fight to remember the black hole is there, and visceral, concrete reminders help.