Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Telling on your addict

I've amassed a shit ton of addiction books and my personal book collection is starting to resemble the recovery stacks at my local library. Sometimes I just run my grippers over the binds and let them settle where they may. I open the chosen book and always find an applicable tip. Not all my books are addiction self help, some are memoirs or biographies and today I landed on "Dry," Augusten Burroughs' tortured but humorous account of his struggle with the bottle. I found (on page 71) a technique that may be helpful. During this passage, the author describes being confronted by the facilitator of his 12 step group.

"I tell her about the bottles. And how because of them, I never invite anyone over to my apartment....I feel a pang of sadness, and its actually for myself. Why would somebody live that way? I also feel like I have broken a confidence. So this is what I say: 'Its funny, but admitting this out loud, I feel really strange, like I'm saying something I shouldnt.' 'Exactly,' (she says) what you are doing is telling on your addict. You need to visualize your own internal addict. Think of it as a separate being that lives inside of you and it wants nothing more than for you do to drink....Your addict wants you all to itself. So when you talk about the bottles, or any other consequence of drinking, you are in effect, telling on your addict."

I'm sure we've all heard the saying, "you're only as sick as your secrets" and I think that's what they're getting at here. Identifying your addict or addictive behaviors--the shameful stuff that you're embarrassed to tell others--and admitting them aloud minimizes the power of these secrets. It also helps you get at what you're masking in order to indulge in this shameful addict behavior.

Here is mine: I break into his email account. I get a twisted thrill from reading his correspondence with inadequate, eager, love seeking women. I do this because the day bores me and now that I have told on my addict, I'll have to find excitement elsewhere. Telling you my secrets, becoming vulnerable and letting others judge me holds me accountable.

So, what shameful secrets can you share here? Does sharing them bring you any awareness about the reasons you indulge?