Addiction: Like Being Stuck on a Mountain *

Some of the hardest challenges that I go through as an addict are when my addiction cripples my ability to act for myself. I feel trapped, lost and at times I feel unable to take a step forward. That is the power that addiction has over people who are in its grasp. It takes away our ability to act, our ability to see where we are and where we are going. Over the course of my path to recovery I have felt like there is no end in sight and that no matter how hard I try, there is no escape and I will be trapped forever.

A few weeks ago I had an experience that changed my perspective on my addiction forever. I enjoy exercising. It is an incredibly empowering experience for me and at times it gives me a glimpse of the freedom from addiction that I truly want deep down. The feeling of improving, getting tired, catching second wind, and making my body feel weightless are other reasons why I enjoy exercise. But, I absolutely hate exercising my legs and I have an intense dislike for jogging as well. So in order to compensate for my dislike of doing both cardio and leg workouts I decided that I would combine both of them into one weekly activity: Hiking the Y.

I started on September 14. I drove my car to the base of the Y trail. When I got out of my car I only noticed 1-2 other cars in the parking lot which made me really happy. There were hardly any people so I felt good about hiking without a shirt on since the temperature was starting to rise. I started the hike with shoes, pants and my shoulder bag that had 2 energy bars and a bottle of water. I moved without stopping while going up the first 3 switchbacks, then my legs started to hurt so I took a break. I followed this pattern until I reached the top.

When I arrived, I sat down and drank some water and ate one of my granola bars. I then tried to stand up, but I couldn’t. My legs were cramped so bad that I was physically unable to move them without experiencing an incredible amount of pain. So I just sat there.  As I sat there waiting for the muscles to relax so that I could walk down again I noticed something happening around me. The temperature was dropping and it slowly started to rain. After about 20 minutes the conditions became drastically worse. The temperature plummeted 30 degrees to just above freezing and the torrent of rain turned into hailstones the size of peas. I was trapped.

The temperature did not bother me very much as I had accustomed myself to it rather quickly, but whenever a hailstone hit my skin I felt like I was getting shot by a BB gun. There was so much of it. After what felt like forever, the pain in my legs eased, the hail abated somewhat, and I started to walk down the mountain. However, after descending 2 switchbacks the hail started again, but this time it was much worse.

As I was walking down, the mountain was covered with a thick layer of fog. My glasses fogged up too. I could not see where I was going. There was a small river of water flowing down the path and rocks started to fall along the path in front of me from the top of the mountain.

About halfway down I started panicking. My head was so cold that I could not think clearly. What in the world was I going to do? I hid under a bush and then I came to myself. I realized that I had to just stay on the path and move forward. Whatever was about to happen was something I would have to deal with. The rain was cold, the hail hurt, the path was slippery and dangerous, but if I kept moving forward I knew that eventually I would be able to get to my car and make it home.

When I made it back down to the car I was exhausted, cold and very very relieved. I looked back up to the path that leads to the top of the Y and I started laughing uncontrollably. It was one of the worst experiences that I have had, but I was so glad that it happened to me. It helped me realize that my life is interesting because it is difficult. If difficult things did not happen to me than life would not be worth living. I reflected on this when I got home in regards to my addiction.

Sometimes in addiction we feel like we are stuck half naked on top of a mountain. We can’t move. We are alone. We are getting pelted by hail and it really really hurts. When we try to remove ourselves it hurts even more. I have felt that way. I have been stuck in my addiction and not been able to move. And I have felt as helpless as I felt on September 14 on top of the Y.

However, now that I know the way down the mountain the Lord has helped me move my legs so that they can take me there. It is hard. It is agonizing. It feels like it takes forever. That is the path I am walking on right now. For me, the path to recovery are the 12 steps found in the Addiction Recovery Program. I have had a lot of success and I do feel like I am making progress and I will continue on this path for a while.

I don’t think that I have gotten to the bottom of the mountain in regards to my addiction quite yet, but I am positive that when I get there (and I believe that I will get there) I am going to look back up the path I just came down from and laugh. Laugh with relief and joy while thanking my Heavenly Father that he cared enough about me to help me get down.

* This post was contributed by my good friend Michael.

One take-away from this story: When we are in a fog as to where to turn, we should "just stay on the path and move forward" taking one step at a time.

1 comment:

Braddah D said...

Thank you for sharing this story. I especially like the many analogies of your experiences with overcoming addictions. I will definitely remember this story and keep on moving on the path.