Hope(less) and Living in Addiction
*Excerpt from the upcoming book, Polluted! My Sober Journey
Without hope, life loses its meaning.
Hope lifts us. Hope gets us out of bed in the morning. Hope allows us to sleep peacefully at night. Hope provides us with anticipation and joy. Hope brings light into darkness. Hope helps us to push forward through difficult times. Hope fuels our desire to grow and improve as we plan for the future.
As soon as we start to feel hopeless, life loses its color and flavor. Depression sets in and we become cynical and angry. We feel defeated…What’s the point? Who gives a crap?
Once this started happening, once I began to feel hopeless, I drank MORE in an attempt to recapture the optimism and courage alcohol used to deliver. But my efforts to achieve hope from a bottle were all in vain. The booze no longer worked. I began to spin downward at an accelerated rate of speed. One day bled into the next in a monotonous, boring cycle of drinking, sleeping, eating, drinking, sleeping, eating, drinking…There were days near the end of my three decade run when I never bothered to get out of bed. I had lost all hope, so why bother getting up and putting on clothes? I had nothing to believe in.
It wasn’t until I finally got sober that I discovered my need, and desire, for belief in something more in life. As a practicing alcoholic, I didn’t really believe in much, other than a strong belief in the power of getting loaded. My concept of God, or a Higher Power, amounted to nothing more than a vague collection of ideas I had collected from books, movies and the occasional visit to church when I was a child.
It unnerved me to contemplate faith in something other than my immediate needs and ego. My spiritual beliefs were about as evolved as a chimp’s. Just give me a banana (daiquiri) and leave me alone while I pick my navel and grunt.
There’s a reason why alcohol is referred to as spirits. For many of us, we become spiritually empty to the point where we seek out spiritual fulfillment from a bottle.
I have come to believe with all my heart that human beings have an innate need for spiritual nourishment. It seems to be written into our DNA. We need and want a life filled with hope, love, and faith. There is a deep craving within the human soul for more than animal instincts and desires. We must have a spiritual life of some kind or we remain unfulfilled and hungry, often seeking gratification from things that are harmful and destructive. This is particularly true for those of us with addictive personalities. If we don’t feel spiritually fulfilled, we destroy ourselves by drinking, snorting or eating everything we can get our hands on to fill the emptiness gnawing at us.
This is where I found myself in the final days of my addiction. Perhaps you know this feeling, too. Maybe you don’t feel completely hopeless, not yet. But there might be a hunger within you for something more in life, a desire to feed your soul with things more nourishing than alcohol, drugs and self-destructive pursuits.