Losing Control

"Surrender is not the best way to live; it is the only way to live. Nothing else works."
– Rick Warren

If there is one thing that drives me to (want to) drink, it's technical problems (and money problems, and relationship problems, weeds in my garden, business problems, and concerns over North Korea and Armageddon and all that other stuff.)

Downed internet, wonky website plugins that refuse to work and that moment when the control you have over things is handed over to anonymous nameless customer support reps somewhere out there in the ever-sprawling inter-webs.

Because, well, control.

I wish it ended there, somewhere in the binary land inside my computer or contained to things I can hold and place my hands on, instead of spilling from an immeasurable internal struggle inside myself where I feel obligated to control everything.

People. Situations. My circumstances.

The future.

My garden.

My addiction grew the way an invasive weed grows through your garden, choking out the good stuff and creeping through your lawn, well past your neighbours yard, somehow finding a way to push through bricks and concrete, showing up everywhere and overtaking everything.

I tried ripping it out. I poured poison onto it and into myself. At times I even believed I had at long last got ahead of it and that I had stopped it from spreading.

But the roots were still there.

The roots that it all stemmed from were still thriving, deep below the dirt, just looking for a crevice to grow through. And the only way I could get to them was to dig deep.

I'm still digging.

I know now that it was my fear of feeling uncomfortable that perpetuated my addiction, and it was feeling out of control that constantly kept me in a state of perpetual discomfort. It was from that feeling of dis-ease that I quarantined myself in my horribly uncomfortable comfort zone: drunk, disappointing everyone including myself, and wildly out of control as a result of wanting to be in control.

It's just one more glaring example of how alcohol gave me exactly the opposite of what it promised and what I wanted.

What I needed.

What I actually needed was to somehow learn that the only thing that my subtle but persistent addiction to trying to control everything could guarantee was a lifetime of frustration.

To learn that the only place control actually exists is in our own minds, locked in a room with the future, like two angry, insecure roommates stuck together forever in disagreement, throwing pots and pans at each other and smashing wine glasses off the walls.

It was a never-ending rollercoaster ride that never stopped to let me off or others on, and left me sick to my stomach with every gut-wrenching plummet from a never-long-enough fleeting high.

There are two kinds of people on a rollercoaster: the ones with their arms in the air and thrilling howls of freedom erupting from gigantic smiles on their face, and the ones gripped with fear and a mouthful of vomit.

I was the latter.

I refused to simply go with the curves and bends, the slow climbs and inevitable falls. It was impossible to enjoy the ride because I always needed to know what was coming next, always waiting on short-lived moments of safety while dreading the certain rush of inescapably falling.

There was no riding the rollercoaster. 

I was imprisoned on it.

I wasn't born like that. There is no innate desire to predict and control the future, which is why children can be so inspiring and fearlessly carefree. We aren't born fighting the flow of things or filled with anxiety or frustrated by unpredictability, needing to numb ourselves so we can make reality feel less real.

We don't arrive in pieces, torn apart because we are struggling to hold ourselves together in a world that feels determined to divide us.

But, we do arrive afraid to fall.

Falling and loud noises are the only two fears we are born with (according to science), and it's that fear of falling – the valleys after the peaks, the gravity after the high – that we carry with us headlong into our lives, and eventually, our addictions.

And I spent so very long trying to stop everything around me from making me fall, instead of trying to control myself so that I didn't.

I spent so very long trying to keep my garden perfectly and meticulously weed-free. 

It wasn't until my first feeble and fearful steps into sobriety that I came at long last to understand and embrace the certainty of all of life's peaks and valleys, and to accept that we have been born on the rollercoaster, which doesn't ever stop until the fateful day that our bodies finally do.

All my drunken days and decades were just sad attempts at ushering that end as quickly as possible, fighting the truth that the ride actually was my life, and that I never had, or would ever have, control. 

It wasn't until this point that I came to understand and embrace the beautiful truth that there will be weeds, and that weeds are only plants growing where you don't want them.

I finally came to understand that we only ever have two options: to give in to our fear and anxiety, or to surrender to the great mystery with courage.

To accept that the only control we will ever have is in choosing how we are going to respond to the ride.

And trust me, the ride is so much more enjoyable with your hands in the air and without a winery in your stomach.

xo. SJ.

Sober, alcohol free recovery blogger.

Photographer. Writer. Ex-Blackout Artist.

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