I’ve come a long way. Very few know how far I’ve come and very few will know how far I go. What is important, though, is a standard of integrity when I get to wherever it is that my purpose lies. In this era of ‘Big Data’ and ‘Leakage’ of personal lives via the media, mass and social, it is so important to reach your purpose in life with a clear conscience and with the humility required to show an acceptance of responsibility for your past.
For months I have wrestled with the spiritual urge to post some of the extremely personal blogs that I’ll put out there during my journey. They’re ugly. They’re uncomfortable. VERY uncomfortable. But, as I’ve fought to develop my relationship with Christ, I’ve been exposed to Love in a way I never knew existed. It’s a driving force that, at times, has a mind of its own, as it IS a standard of its own.
James 5:16 reads, “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”
Briefly, I want to explain the usage of the terms ‘faults’ and ‘healed’.
‘Faults’, in this verse, according to the Greek Lexicon refers to ‘sin’. Sin, contrary to popular thought, is not simply doing wrong. It is more so the ‘missing of the mark’. As in Romans 3:23, where we are told that “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”.
In order to miss the mark, you must aim for the mark. Addicts of any kind are not outcasts. Addicts, for the most part, did not wake up one day and decide that they were going to be enslaved to the will of something that wasn’t them. They’re ‘normal’ people, just like you and just like me. Sometimes, they’re not as obvious as you might think. For the period of time I went through my several addictions, though, I can tell you something we all shared in common. Our addictions allow us temporary escapism from our falling short of the mark we aimed for. It’s not limited to the homeless man asking you for change, food and water at the Philadelphia traffic lights. It’s not limited to the unwashed man, making his walk from the welfare check collection to the alcohol store. It’s not limited to the broken woman asking you “What you want, baby?” in Camden, New Jersey and Kensington, Philadelphia. It goes further than that.
When your boss is cut-throat but has a stash of Jack Daniels in their draw, it’s because s/he doesn’t really like how they are in the work place. When your close friend has to ‘chill’ with alcohol daily, it’s because something they feel they cannot deal with, daily, goes away as those short-term memory neurons dissipate, washed away with the quiet, rising tide of vodka, wine. For me, it was Heineken.
‘Healed’, according to the Greek Lexicon, more specifically speaks of a supernatural involvement. Something beyond the physical. Ladies and gentleman, addiction doesn’t disappear with gossip and doesn’t disappear with judgement. Addictions are beyond what is clear and present.
I remember listening to an interview of our recent President Obama, by comedian Trevor Noah, and hearing his response to a question regarding the Ku Klux Klan. Our last President responded, explaining that his job wasn’t to judge the KKK for being a racist organization bur, rather, to find out why they are how they are and deal with the problem at the root. The same goes for addiction (I guess we could say that racism is a form of addiction then?!).
I find Americans to be some of the most legalistic people I’ve ever come across. Labelling, blame. A necessity for someone to be wrong, so someone else can be right, is so rooted into the culture that surrounds me. One only needs to consider the debates of previous Presidents with their rivals. “Policy doesn’t matter, as long as I look better than you!” I listen to talk of ‘illegal immigrants’ from people who have never come across one and think, “This is why there is so much suffering.” I’ve come to realize that, with suffering must come blame. Empathy and sympathy are lost in this rat race to stand out in the oblivion of statistics that our social systems and constructs have created, while we preach from a prideful standpoint of love. A love that never seems to bring resolve or togetherness. Only separation. Divide and conquer, maybe?
In order for an addict to be healed, there must be a presence of something beyond the physical. Healing will last as long as the driving force behind the intent to be healed. Think on that…
If you’re reading this, you probably don’t know of my pain. Just like many other addicts out there.
Life wasn’t going the way I wanted it to go, and it was that way for a damn long time. I had no family around, no money, my parenting could have been found on Family Guy and there were days where I found comfort in staring at the 4 walls I could just about afford to exist within. I made decisions between an extra day’s food and washing my clothes. I made decisions between which bills would and wouldn’t be paid, depending on who was more swift and threatening to take me to court.
Phone calls from home often helped but then I got news of the loss of several close friends. Then I lost my nan. That’s just recent. If you want to hear the truth, my Joker Face has been worn for years. Lots and lots of years. But there was always Heineken.
Heineken understood. Listening to the silent tears of self-loathing, as they rolled into the glass and then bubbled to the top. I’d cry inside, hard, as my dreams burst at the top of the ‘amber nectar’ but filtered photographs, for the Book and the Gram, along with that refreshing fizz made everything feel alright, until the next day. And the day after that. And the day after that.
I came to realize that Heineken would heighten whatever mood I was in at the time. If I was feeling down, I’d drink and feel sorry for myself. If I was angry, I’d drink and then go for a run. I’d run fast and it would hurt. But that was cool because it was my fault anyway. In a nutshell, Heineken would let me feel however I wanted to feel and there was no one to tell me any different. I just wish there was… Someone, that is. Anyone that cared, really. Self-love has taken me years to learn and grasp.
There’s a difference to addiction and bingeing, I discovered. To a degree. There is a difference between WANTING to drink, even to excess and feeling like you NEED to drink. When I say ‘need’, I mean actually feeling an internal pulling to the bar or liquor store. Thinking back, I can see the thoughts that were in my head at the time and the situations that triggered them. Overwhelming situations. The numerous phone calls to pay bills EVERY day when I simply can’t afford to pay because I was in a situation I didn’t create intentionally. Receiving disrespectful messages from children I love so much, wishing I could tell them the full story but needed to be the example of what was right. Losing friends and family. Being unable to embrace relationships and remaining scared to enter them. That mess hurts, man. You have no idea.
Those were dark days. There are words out there, I’m sure, that can describe waking up with a distinct feeling of dread inside. A want to not have to get up and face another day of problems. Sometimes, a want to not wake up at all.
When I look back, I’m scared at how hidden my problems were. But then I ask myself how hidden they would have been in the presence of real friends. Not social media buddies but real friends. The ones that call you and chat to you about things that are familiar to you both. The ones that knock on your door from time to time. The ones that actually reach out and check on you, as opposed to hitting the ‘Like’ button on a daily basis to let you know they’re there. I don’t think words will ever encapsulate how I silently overcome with the support from friends and family who, to this day, have no clue what they did and how much they mean to me. I’m ever indebted that’s for sure.
There is no hard-hitting way to close out of this blog. There are more to come and, if they are anything like this one, there is a horrible taste to be left in the mouth.
Having put this out there, I am now aware of feeling like I’ve let go of a stress. I feel light and tired. Til the next time…