All addicts during the recovery journey say they want to get well. They might say things like “I am sick and tired of being sick and tired” or “I don’t want to live with this anymore” or “I can’t go on like this”. This most frequently happens after a binge we said we wouldn’t do again. Getting well and sober seems simple. In fact, the steps to take to get well and sober offered through 12 step programs are very simple. What gets in our way from following these simple steps to get well and sober?
One potential cause for our seemingly inability to follow the steps to sobriety and getting well may have to do with the lack of grieving for the loss of your addiction. So why would I need to grieve my addiction? Giving up an addiction comes with losses. You may lose friendship, jobs, family members, and recreational activities to mention a few. These losses can produce great sadness, fear, and anxiety for the addict. These losses associated with giving up the addictive behavior has to be grieved. Think about it, to give up the addictive behavior is like giving up a friend that you perceived was there when you needed it. You may go through feelings of fear and anxiety over what you will do without it. You ask questions like what will life be without it? Will I be able to cope? Will I have friends or my job? Will I lose my family? Maybe keeping the addiction, even just a little, will be okay? Exploring these costs and feelings associated with giving up the addiction can help uncover our reluctance to getting well.
An activity that I found very helpful to help grieve and let go of my addictive behavior was to write a good bye letter to my addicted side. It helped me process deep feelings I had towards letting go of the addiction and the impact it had on my life with God and others. The healing I experienced from writing this letter has been invaluable. Sharing it with my 12 Step group increased that healing and reminded me that God provides a healthy replacement for the addiction. I share my letter with you now. I pray it helps you continue to heal from the negative effects of addiction.
We have been together for many years. You were there during those challenging teenage years when I questioned my manhood and believed myself to be so unattractive and unlovable. When I was afraid to be part of the crowd or to run to my parents for support you were there to comfort me. You were there during my college years when I struggled to fit in with my peers who were drinking and carousing and sowing their royal oats. When I felt rejected by women I thought I loved me or by classmates I thought were my friends you provided me security. I began to abandon my faith and belief in God, even though I continued to attend the obligated Sunday Mass. When I found no answer to my prayer from God, I began to pray to you, and you became my God. I idolized you and worshipped you because you gave me pleasure in a world that I felt rejected me and didn’t love me and caused me pain. I continued to worship you even though my pain continues to increase and I feel more and more rejection. I have been very confused, depressed, and anxious these last couple of months, trying to determine the source of this distress and confusion, and the cause of my pain. I have recently been seeking comfort from a more personal relationship with Jesus Christ, the person I abandoned and persecuted for many years. I feel a greater sense of peace and security when I am with him, compared to being with you. I have come to know through this relationship with him that he is the way, the truth, and the life. Jesus is the way to true happiness and joy. Jesus is the truth of love because he is love, and idolizing you does not provide true love. He is the life, which leads to eternal happiness. He suffered rejection and was unloved by his friends and family just like me. He knows what it feels like to be rejected, unloved, and alone. He taught me by his suffering on the cross that suffering is a necessary condition of true love, and he also taught me by his resurrection that from the suffering come true joy and happiness, new life, and love that will last. The love we had would never last so it isn’t really love. I would have to continue giving more and more which would lead to suffering, but not the suffering that leads to lasting joy and happiness, new life, and lasting love. It would only lead to suffering that would hurt others, destroy life, and kill love. I have come to realize that you are the cause of my pain, and for me to continue this relationship with you would cause me further pain and countless others pain. I know ending this relationship will be difficult for you. I understand you may want to contact me to try and reconnect or restore the relationship. For our protection, Jesus will be answering all my contacts so you can answer to him. This is the best way.”