For many years I’ve urged folks to read, “I am Your Disease” as that poem succinctly defines the power of addiction by personifying the disease. What follows is a response to that poem – a letter written back to the disease:
You are my disease. I hate you but am powerless to harm you. From this day forward, I acknowledge your destructive presence in my life. I accept that I am an addict. I seek freedom from you one day at a time through being a person in recovery. You cannot destroy me if I do not feed you.
I know that you are within me but not of me. You are like a cancer – a pervasive and powerful sickness, too long undetected. I denied your existence even when those around me begged that I acknowledge your grip on me. Subtly and intrusively, you made my life progressively unmanageable.
You were my higher power. I loved the comfort that you brought me. You saw the memories I ran from, the thoughts that infringed into my daily life and the emotions that overwhelmed me. You saw my pain and removed it, but only temporarily and at the cost of my health, the people places, and things I held dear, and my sanity. I allowed you to seduce me because for the first time in my life, I felt free.
As my friends in NA say, “The chains of addiction are too light to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.”
I thought that you had given me a fortress, but I see now that it quickly became a prison. You are like a monstrously abusive lover who at first elated me. Under your control I would consistently forget how much you hurt me and welcome you back, hoping each time would be like the first. For a long time now, you only numbed me while you hurt me. Your presence left me empty, alone, and in more pain than I ever knew possible.
You are indeed as my friends in AA say, “cunning, baffling, and powerful.”
You take away people I love. You kill acquaintances, friends, and family. Sometimes quickly and sometimes slowly. You rob me of serenity, joy, fulfillment and happiness. You prey upon my vulnerabilities. You left me physically, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually bankrupt.
I have come to accept that I am powerless to control you. I cannot take a single drink or drug without assuming the imminent risk of losing everything, including my life.
Today I am moving 12 steps away from you. I will keep myself in the company of the very best people in the world – those who seek to overcome you. Together we seek spiritual growth and to support one another’s healing.
I promise to do everything in my power to help others overcome you. I may not be able to harm you, but I’ll be damned if I will stand by while you ravish my community, my country, and my world.
A Person in Recovery