Friday, January 16, 2009


I used to live in a cave, right in the centre of my chest, kind of behind my heart. This was the place were I used to retreat to when the world became to difficult to deal with.

I remember the first time I found it, while spending a weekend visiting difficult relatives. It was years ago, during a stage in my life where I wasn't numbing and didn't realize just how much I was struggling with the "ism"'s of addiction. We were spending the weekend visiting some of my partners relatives whom I found very uncomfortable to visit. I was really stressed out, wanting to get away but also knowing I had made a commitment to stay. When we went to bed the first night, I was done talking. I turned my back towards my spouse and just started to think, started pushing all those feelings into a closet, kinda like hiding from myself. I was detaching, but I believe in a very unhealthy way, not acknowledging my own struggles, feeling like a victim, blaming everyone else. The only feelings I would display was anger or depression.

Over the years, I worked hard at staying in that cave, building it into a place of refuge. My partner tried many times to drag me out of there. She wanted me to talk about what was going on, to tell her was I was feeling. I went deeper into my cave, ended up decorating it with centrefolds, big racks of red wine along the walls, a thin wire leading to the internet that was my life line, a soother made of porn. When I lived there, I could feel no pain. I felt centred, protected, thick walls of granite protecting me from the world. Kids struggling, I could hide here. My spouse crying, I could hide here. Solid, secure, safe.

As the years passed by I found myself lonely, isolated, cut off from Human Kind, angry at God. I was dying in this cave. It had changed from a place of protection to a prison over the years. It would have become my coffin if I had had stayed there much longer.

The illusion of being absent from pain finally broke apart as I reached my bottom. The cave I had built was no more than the proverbial house of cards. In my need to be able to stand on solid ground, I ended up free falling.

I don't know how many times I've changed my life so that I would feel secure and in control, like having solid footing beneath my feat. Looking for total control in order to feel totally safe. Thinking of a new scheme, over and over. I have to continue to work now, making sure I don't rebuild that cave. A new structure could appear if I immerse myself in work, neglect my family by getting deeply involved in AA, sit for hours in front of that TV wishing my life was different. In all the years I've lived, I've never been able to achieve balance. Something I have been starting to get in my life these past couple of years.

"One day at a time" removes that need for control, for feeling safe. If I don't spend all my time worrying about the future or rerunning the past, I no longer have to build structures that would protect me from the what ifs. While I still don't feel comfortable not being grounded or protected, I find that this exposure is giving me a worthwhile life. Accepting life on life's terms ends up with me feeling alive and real.

I have a lot of gratitude for what recovery has brought to me and others. How the process of surrender gives us freedom.

Photo Credit: jurvetson


Cat said...

what a perfectly descriptive way of explaining what we do to escape - once again your writing leaves me thinking.


Annette said...

"The process of surrender gives us freedom." I love that. It is scary as hell but I know it is true. I love this post. The whole idea of not hiding, not padding ourselves from what life hands us, but instead dealing with it as it comes and facing it head on...encouraging stuff. I think that is what living an honest life is all about.

Anonymous said...

Great post Hank. What can I say?I have been there too. Now, I am trying to learn a new of living, and yes some days it is difficult, but definately worth it! You have grown so much in the last year. I am proud to be on this journey with you!

Kathy Lynne said...

the meaning of life is to live it....I love how you put this sentiment into words.

Indigo said...

I did the same thing. It was a door with peeling paint, padlocked in my mind. If something became to much to handle, I would simply slide it under that door. In everything I had dealt with in life, those around me pondered how I was able to pick myself up so easily. The problem was by not comforting those issues, I never truly healed from them either.

6 years ago the damn broke and literally burst through that door, and it almost killed me. From time to time a memory will surface, imprison me for a moment. I write it out of my system, I acknowledge it (ugly as it may be) and let it go.

I'm not drowning today, it takes strength to face some things in life. I have a better chance of doing that if I'm sober. Thank you for a profound entry. (Hugs)Indigo

Lou said...

This post reminded me of the Bruce Springsteen song, Human Touch.

"you can't shut off the risk and the pain
without losing the love that remains"

Lou said...

Hank, my computer was messed up. Please go to my blog and resubscribe to my feed, otherwise my posts will not update here. thanks!

Anonymous said...

Hank, I have something for you on my blog.