I learned to be deeply rooted in recovery when I personally became fully aware of the power and control of addictive disease. It took a couple of near death experiences after several relapses and dragging my family through those tragedies to finally accept my own powerlessness.
Growing up in an alcoholic home, the son of a patriotic and highly decorated veteran of both World Wars, I was taught to never ever be a quitter and to set high goals. After my Father’s war-torn mind and body could no longer go on, I became the man of the house. Drinking and drugging to numb the pain and have “fun” along with my friends became the norm. Converting to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormon) just before graduating from High School and then entering the Marine Corps during the Vietnam War (to be like my Dad?) brought even more ideas of invincibility. However, going it alone, without the help of others, only proved that my belief that I was ten feet tall and bullet proof was an illusion. Surrendering my will and allowing others to help was vital. Those others included healthy family and friends, medical and behavioral professionals, God, and support groups filled with others in recovery.
My whole family learned many valuable things through all the adversity surrounding my addiction, however. The most important thing learned was the power of secure attachment in the healing process, and whole-hearted connection. That truly living is all about relationships, not superficial, shame-based relationships, but deep relationships of trust.
Getting very serious and thorough in my recovery program, along with my family getting the help they needed, eventually brought completion of graduate school and a career change back to my original dream of becoming a clinical social worker. Here I have found fulfillment sharing what I have learned about addictive disease: especially that it is an attachment disorder. Addiction detaches us from our social-emotional strengths, family moorings, spiritual roots, physical health, and the quality of life we all hope for. The good news, though, is that when we treat the physical, mental, social, and spiritual deficits caused by this disease it goes into remission – sometimes slowly, sometimes more rapidly. Oddly enough, we then realize “we never had it so good” as we do in recovery – with healthier, stronger relationships all around us.