Barry on the Road



Thursday 7th July 2011

Tomorrow Friday 8th July 2011 marks 316,800 minutes that I have travelled this journey without any alcohol – just thought I would throw that in because it sounds so damn impressive!

It is in fact 220 days since I entered Ramot dying for and because of a drink – a wasted, withered being whose ultimate sin was to turn my back on the spirit and the talent given to me by God. But God had noticed and watched and I wonder at His serene patience in allowing me to drag my feet in my life’s journey for four or so decades.

But I also know now that in His divine wisdom He knew when the time would be right to gently pick me up and set me down on the side of the road and allow me to look inside myself and see, with humility, my selfish indifference to the glory of life He gives to all of us.

God knew exactly how to intervene with a whisper and not a cross command, and he gently put his arm around me and walked me into rehabilitation. This in spite of my reluctance, fear and trembling and confusion – ah, what a wise and loving healer He is!

OntheRoadSo here I am just seven months later and I thought I would share a few thoughts on my journey so far.

My first thought is one which is with me at all times – the wonder of finding my God so far into my life – which has resulted now in a quite joy and peace that has slid over me like a fresh white cloak and grows stronger every day, every minute. This is my strength and my guide, this awareness of being clean and sober! It has allowed me to stop using tranquilising substances and so able to laugh and cry with honest joy and honest sadness.

This new truth is at once pure peace and love and also slightly tinged with sadness. Peace and love because it is so real, slightly sad that It took me so long and by way of such a torturous route to find it. And I hold this truth strongly and vigorously as I continue on the recovery road.

The journey of recovery is unique to each and every one, so what have I learnt and discovered on my journey so far?

Firstly, the destination is not the goal, there is no cure for the disease of addiction, the actual journey is the reality.
Secondly each moment, each step in the right direction is a building block of getting better. Whilst we cannot be cured of the disease we can regain a far healthier life by managing our use of any dependency substance or activity.

Therefore, for me, the destination is no longer the focus – even if its courtesy of to Cape Town – it is that time being suspended in mid-air without a sensation of moving. This is the time to manage my addiction, manage my impulsive need to do something or have something or take something. The journey itself demands of me to take charge of this moment of enforced stillness. This journey, the actual movement from one place to another by way of airports and airplanes, is a symbol of a moment in time when while being perfectly still I am travelling through the emotions of my recovery.

And it is i n these moments of transition from ignorance to one more bit of enlightenment that I realise more than ever that the destination is not important – it is every moment of progress and regress that counts, the sudden glimpse of understanding which just as suddenly can slip away – this is the truth of living the recovery!
And of course each moment can be a challenge and so I have learnt to trust the truism – one day, one hour and yes even one minute at a time.
But there is also that constant hunter – the addiction – circling, snarling and stalking around me like a pack of wild dogs hungry for the kill. There are the times when the enormity of the task of being on the road of recovery wants to overwhelm me. These are times when I get scared, very scared but these are also times when the grace of God and his fresh white cloak of peace and joy are also there. And His care and love can be revealed as simply as the sudden burst of sunlight in the midst of a raging storm. These are times when I have to pull back from the fears and doubts which are the weapons of addiction, I have to pull back and be quiet and at one with my God and the love, peace and joy He offers not as a reward or a gift but as a right of life for every living being!

And to remind me of this reality have developed this little technique as suggested in recovery programmes – I wear a few elastic bands on my wrist and at the first sign of fear or doubt I pull them back and snap them onto my wrist! In the beginning my wrist was virtually aflame with snapping – a bit like a Spanish Dancers vigorous punishment of the castanets- but now over time just the thought of snapping seems to do the trick.
I have also learnt in this time a truly wondrous thing – I am not alone on this pilgrimage of recovery! I have learnt the very essence of that old cliché – that no man is an island – I have learnt how true this is.

When I surrendered to addiction I retreated from mankind. I faded away from my family and friends and even strangers became blurred visions – and I convinced myself that just me , my addiction and the substance makes three – and I convinced myself that I was happier in this state and did not need the bother and hard work of being with other people!
But I was wrong, very wrong – in just these past seven months by being part of groups of people who are in the same position as myself it has become obvious to me that the addiction demands this isolation, the addiction selfishly wants you all to itself. But now I have met a lot of new friends and am greatly encouraged and gain enormous strength by being with these new friends every week. And these are REAL friends – there is no BMW envy, no strutting and bragging, no need to be superior! There is only the one common humbling reality for all of us – we are all just human and all on the recovery road for ever more.

We are all as weak as our greatest strengths and as strong as our very real fears – and by sharing these real fears and strengths we grow strong and step by step as we journey on this road of recovery.
I have found and experienced a very real reality in all the meetings I attend whether AA, NA or Cad – a reality based on simple honesty. Each person who shares his or her moment is a vital ingredient in the recipe of recovery for all of us – and I feel a deep connection with each person’s own pain and confusion and fear and, often times pure joy! There are a million stories told by a million kinds of people but there is really only one truth that comes through each time – and that is that recovery is a hard but satisfying task with the best reward or prize ever – a big and beautiful life filled with the glow of God’s grace and kindness.

On the RoadAnd yes there are black clouds of doubt at times, there are tsunamis of fear, tornados of temptation and a hundred brief moments of wanting to shrivel up and disappear but then there are also great moments of being touched by a virtual stranger, being hugged by a brand new friend and being heard by God. And I am beginning to realize that the moments of doubt, fear, and temptation are there to spotlight the brilliance of being clean and sober, the one and only real truth we are all striving for. And for me there is really no choice – and I know for myself that the black clouds, tsunamis and tornadoes will, like the weather, fade away and grow less in strength and become less frequent and I will be able to bask in the warmth of a new summer filled with lovely friends and my connection to my God.

I bless you all with strength, determination, joy and peace and thank you for letting me share my journey with you.