Finding Reality, Finding Self: The Intersection of Relinquishment and Addiction

I used to say that Reality is my Higher Power. Higher Power is a 12-step-program concept that says you have to believe in something other than yourself to get sober. You cannot be self-reliant because with addiction you’re more or less a closed loop of maladaptive behaviors. Even if you get a few days or months of booze-free time, you’re still relying only on yourself for support, and that’s a lot to ask of one person. Because of that many members of AA choose God as their Higher Power, and those who struggle with the concept of God have to choose something else. I chose Reality because it was simply the concept that served me best.

It was Reality that made me accept that I was relinquished and that there was no shame about feeling shame about it. It was Reality that made me realize that being afraid to talk about my beginnings and feeling inadequate was not okay and that it hindered my development. It was Reality that told me that my identity was in shambles and that I needed to come up with some concept of David that could exist outside of booze and recovery from it. I had to discover myself wholly—with all my complexities and my traumas and the trajectory of my healing. Reality allowed me to get and stay curious. It allowed me to explore and experiment and take action that would allow me to get to know my SELF.

I learned that being complex—and perhaps complicated—meant that I had to work extra hard to keep my brain from working too hard. It was a catch-22, but once I learned those things about myself I was able to quiet the noise with something else other than 12-step meetings, therapy, even talking to other relinquishees.

I found a quick and effective method founded in cutting-edge neuroscience that has been coined “Blue Mind,” which is a tranquil state of being brought on by the presence of entities—such as lakes or the ocean—that evoke the color blue. I realized that where I lived—by the lake—and where I spent so many happy moments was conductive to me healing myself.

Other work that I do involves making frequent inventory of myself. I have to do this regularly to give myself attention that is healthy and that will not lead me astray. I knew from reading theories on adoptees who also dealt with addiction that I had a double whammy of issues to deal with. William Reynolds writes, “The adoptee is inclined to be a rather shy and personally wary individual who is ill at ease in dealing with others.  Impulsive in decision making style, whose self-image tends to be remote and untrusting, who has real difficulty persisting at tasks without immediate rewards, and whose tolerance for frustration and delay is minimal.”

Reality taught me that opening myself to select, trusted others and asking them to affirm my experiences and check my perceptions allowed me freedom that went beyond my expectations. It allowed me to rebuild myself to the point where now I’m thriving and where happiness is no longer an idea that eludes me. I can feel it from within.

Photo by Caroline Veronez on Unsplash



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