I celebrated 9 years a week ago. I am now sober longer than I have used Crystal Meth. At nine years my recovery is going "fine." Just fine; not swimmingly. Once upon a time it would have been the latter, but I have succumbed to a complacency and self-indulgence that -- at the very least -- erodes my pristine happiness. Now food and tele have taken the place of lighting up and trolling about for sex. It's a terrible thing, though not as bad as active CM addiction.
It feels as if I always have to have some compulsion waiting in the wings: sex, the internet, food, tele have all had their days. I have never been convinced that there is such a thing as an addictive personality, but these behaviors are clear evidence of my addictive personality. What would I be doing if I were not insulating myself in an adipose shell or isolating myself with Arthur Strong or iZombie? I suppose I'd be reading, socializing, going to the gym, attending meetings. Almost anything seems a better use of my time.
And yet showing up for life means waking up. I am the chronic teenager grumbling and moaning about school at 7:30 am. The thoughts that arise for the awakened Chase are thoughts of aging, illness, loneliness and loss. Watching tele in the man-cave is a bit like using in that there is the illusion of suspended animation. What I liked about drugs was that they seemed to make time stop. All my worries diluted in the sensation of the present moment.
Certain spiritual teachers would have us live always in the present moment. I find such a view overwhelming. The present moment is a dirty window, a smudged glass -- at any moment the illusion of stillness may shatter. The Buddhist view is that anything the mind creates or perceives is an illusion and that stillness (in the form of meditation) is our only gateway to what the German Idealists would have called "the thing in itself."
Perhaps the thing in itself, once the surface illusion is peeled away, is anxiety pure and simple: tension without direction; restlessness without remedy. Sometimes I feel like a shark; if I am not swimming I cannot breathe. We used to tell addicted patients that every step that does not impel one forward is a step backward. Recovery abhors inertia....