Wednesday, November 25, 2009

    Shifts in Perspective - Addiction

    Addiction is an insidious thing. It worms and weasels its way in, altering how someone thinks. Because so much of it is taking place in the mind it is often not apparent to the one that is addicted how their perspective, how they see things, has been altered.

    Though I am no expert here, simply having been a passenger on this boat, I see that there are two ways in which something can be addicting: physical and mental. I don't intend to address the physical portion here, but by physical I mean the way in which the body gets used to, and consequently needs, the addicting substance. It is a physiological response with physiological repercussions. Anyone who has attempted to quit smoking will have experienced physical addiction and withdrawal. The physical portion of an addiction is often most apparent to the addicted individual.

    The mental aspect of addiction is often not realized until much later, if at all. As I sank deeper and deeper into my addiction I was unaware of what the substance was doing to me. I was not cognizant of the aggression and moodiness, the anti-social behavior, the sheer arrogance that I was exhibiting. Those that were around me saw it writ boldly and clearly, especially Dalynn, but these changes were happening to my mind. How I thought was being changed, I was completely unaware of the changes because I couldn't see them, it was as if I was blind to them.

    Imagine, if you will, that your ability to see a color, let's say green, is changing over time. There's no one time you can point to where you can say "Here I can see green, there I can not", it just goes over time. After a while, you can be looking at green and not know it is there, or not realize that that gray color you see is actually green. So it is with addiction. Your mental self-image changes over time and you become blind to all of the changes that are taking place within you. Some of this blindness is due to your obsession with whatever you're addicted to, some of it is due to the changes that are taking place in your mind as you start to think differently. After a while, you just lose the ability to tell that anything at all has changed.

    Except, there are some times where you are shocked back into a realization that something is wrong. Times of misery, times of hurt, times where you suddenly wonder how you came to this terrible, lonely place. It is during these times that a shift in perspective, how you see the world and yourself, can take place.

    Truth be told for many it will probably take countless times of misery to drive home the point that something is wrong! I know it did for me. It took losing my family as Dalynn left me and took Cole with her, due to her fear of me, to drive home to me that something was wrong. But, even that wasn't enough! I had to suffer through endless days of loneliness and contemplation of the unimaginable before I realized how perversely my mind had been altered, to see how shockingly my thoughts were warped. It was like looking in a mirror after thousands of days without seeing myself and finding a wretched, wan reflection of who I thought I was.

    These are times of shifts in perspective. These are saving moments, when reality can reassert itself. These are horrible moments that the Lord in all His mercy lets us experience. The worst thing that can be done for an addict is to save them from the consequences they have inflicted on themselves!

    A shift in perspective need not always be a horrible thing, though it often is. It need only be a life-altering thing (as if those come along all that often). The birth of a child, for instance. During these times I think we all can step away from ourselves and introspect on to what we are, but for the addict, this time can lead to realization.

    Seeing what I had become gave me the will to fight the addiction and ultimately conquer it. Self-realization, looking in a mirror, did for me what my wife had been praying so diligently for. That led me down the road to breaking the addiction and then recovering my life, piece by piece, that has brought me to where I am today. By no means complete, but in a much better place.

    Had someone stepped in during that time and attempted to "rescue" me, I doubt I would be recovered today. Had I not been able to partake of the consequences of my actions I don't believe I would have ever changed. It is a terrible thing, but then again, so is addiction.