Monday, February 22, 2010
Is That Lipstick On That Pig?
I want to know all about you - what are your dreams, your fears, your idiosyncracies? What keeps you up at night? What do you love about yourself? What do you hate? I feel other peoples' feelings like they are my own. If you're sad, I'll cry for you. If you're jubilant, my heart soars.
I have a harder time drumming up this kind of curiosity about myself, though.
I just finished a book by Christopher Kennedy Lawford called Moments of Clarity. Lawford, who is a recovering alcoholic and addict, interviewed dozens of celebrites, politicians - people in the public eye - about the moment they knew they had a problem with addiction. This is not the same thing as rock bottom, mind you. A few of the people he interviewed had a moment of clarity about their addiction and proceeded to continue drinking or using for some time. What Lawford was exploring was the moment they knew, with frightening lucidity, that substance abuse had taken the reins; that they were powerless over alcohol, drugs, or both.
I do this with bigger things, too, like addiction and recovery. I remember my own moment of clarity, the moment I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I had a problem with alcohol. It happened in a flash. Some lucid part of my brain broke through and shouted: what are you doing? This is no way to live! It felt it like a punch in the gut. As quickly as it came, it was gone, replaced by my carefully constructed justifications and rationales. By my denial. I continued drinking for two more years.
Oddly, in recovery it feels like the stakes are higher. I feel, on some days, like the only thing between me and the web of addiction is my ability to try to be truthful with myself. This can be exhausting. Who wants to spend much time peeking into the darker corners of their psyche? The temptation to overlook reality, to gloss over the parts that make me uncomfortable, is huge.