Sunday, March 4, 2012

Steve's Last Lecture...

First one caveat, if I offend anyone, I apologize. I mean no offense but I have to say some truths and, cliche as it is, sometimes the truth does hurt. 

So here is the first truth, a lot of you, maybe all of you, have a lot of really good reasons to drink and drug and you also have a lot of really good excuses not to get sober. All really good reasons and good, compelling excuses, maybe even good explanations for why you use BUT, good as those reasons are none of them are valid. They are all just reasons to get high and to keep getting high.  So if you want one take away from this lecture remember two words - no excuses. Say it to yourself often and when you least believe it. No excuses. 

What you came to rehab to learn and what we spend days and sometimes weeks doing with you here and then you can spend months or years more when you leave is not about how to find the courage to beat your addiction. Courage you all already have, way beyond anything non-addicted civilians can ever understand – because you have the kind of  courage and fuck you-ness it takes to be an addict.  But as brave as each of you are, your disease will kill you and before you die it will make you suffer and along the way you will hurt everyone who ever loved you.

There is this thing that is standing in your way. And I am not alone in knowing this, every counselor, case worker, doctor, nurse and mental health worker here sees it –  right now your disease, even as you sit here, is standing behind you clamping two giant hands on your shoulders whispering to your neck “it does not matter what he says, you only listen to me”.
And that whisper is too often louder than what we tell you in rehab – that is why we do not tell you as simply, directly and as pared to the bone as what I am telling you now. Instead we  run about 7 groups a day and give you assignments and spend a lot of time trying to give you important tools to help you stay sober when you leave here.  Kind of trying to get around your disease because we don’t usually get through if we just go straight up the middle. Those tools are important, you need them and with repetition and practice those tools will work for some of you. But some of you will sit around and chain smoke cigarettes (or think about chain smoking cigarettes)  and drive yourselves crazy trying to figure out why you use drugs, or you will focus on your complaints, cravings, resentments and terrors and you will spend a lot of time here thinking about how you both want to get sober and at the same time don't and about how you love the very thing that is killing you.
If you are honest, you already know that you can no longer live a life with drugs and, at the same time, you cannot imagine a life without drugs.  
But none of that matters nearly as much as simply not putting chemicals into your body.
And please do not think I am giving you moral advice or that I am telling you what to do or that I even expect that you can do it because it is not easy to do. It is hard, it takes real effort and some days you will not be able to do it. That is part of the process. But there will come a day when, as cold or as disappointed as you may be, even hungry, or when you drop the grocery bag on the sidewalk, or the coffee spills on your sweater at 7:00 AM on your way to look for yet another job that you probably will not get or you want to hit someone, that -  if you do not pick up and put a chemical in your body -you will be gripped by a cherishing so deep for the fact that you are a grateful recovering addict that it will leave you speechless.
Of course this is not likely to happen from your having listened to me today. That is why you will keep attending more groups, and do all that is expected of you here. And that is what you should do. But I also want you to know that it is not impossible that when you are discharged you can walk out of here knowing that you have another option.
Staying clean requires daily attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, in myriad petty, little, boring, unsexy ways. It means going to a program of some kind, be it out patient or a l2-Step program. You have to work your program every day, get a home group, get a sponsor or a therapist  and tell him or her the truth, pray for help whether you believe in God or not, get phone numbers of sober people and call them, make sober friends and develop a sober network and lose the old friends.   That is how you will get sober and stay sober.
What you need to know is that your life is not only important, it is sacred. You are on fire with the same force that lights the stars. Not that I have any idea what actually lights the stars but it does not matter because there is only one true thing that matters here and now – and that is that if the day you leave here you do not use chemicals, the next day will look better. It will not be paradise, it will be hard, it will be scary but the fact is that if you do not use drugs or alcohol, tomorrow will look very different than today.
I know that this may just sound like some sort of total bullshit and you can think of it that way if you want. But as far as I can tell it is the truth. None of this is about morality, or religion, or dogma, or big fancy questions of life after death or whether God exists or not. This is about life BEFORE death. It is about making it to 30, or maybe 50, it is about not  ending up in jail or in an institution.  It is about  the simple truth of what is so real and essential and so hidden in plain sight for you to see that you have to keep reminding yourself of it over and over one day at a time.

My name is Steve and I am a Rehab volunteer. Thank you for letting me share.

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