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Cory Monteith’s untimely death was a shock. No doubt. A complete and utter gut punch for his friends, family, and fans. However, the only people who are shocked that he died from a combination of addictive substances are clearly not addicts themselves. Being a recovering alcoholic myself, it doesn’t shock me at all that a self-pronounced addict would go back. Because any of us can go back. Just like that. “Going back” sits and waits, lives and breathes inside all of us. It can come knocking anytime.
I drank from age 13 to age 30. A LOT. Usually as much as I could get my hands on any given night. I drank because it made me feel unstoppable, beautiful, lovable, whole. I drank because I thought it helped me tap some unattainable truth and beauty in the world. But more than anything, I drank to try to obliterate everything I hated inside. Of course, none of those drunk feelings were real and ended promptly with the good buzz, the vomiting, or the three-day hangover. Some shame-filled mornings I wanted to die, more from the emotional pain than the physical pain. But even then ... I never wanted to stop.
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One of the worst parts about Cory Monteith’s death, or any death of any addict at the hands of their disease, is that it means none of us addicts are safe -- no matter how many rehabs or meetings we attend, how many positive, loving, supportive people we surround ourselves with, or how successful we are in our lives. Sure, making positive changes helps greatly, helps keep us sober, and can even save lives. However, if I’ve learned anything in my sobriety, it’s that there are no guarantees. I've seen people with decades of sobriety go back to drinking and using. I've seen people lose arms, legs, even half their asses. I’ve watched people lose marriages, relationships, jobs, homes, even children as an outcome to their disease -- and I don’t mean to the system, I mean their children died as a consequence of their drinking. This shit is serious. Do you get how serious and real it is yet?
But Cory was so happy. So successful. He was so sweet and good and genuine. He was in love. All of this is probably true, but it is also true that addiction can topple all of that. The one thing maybe none of us really understand is that while addicts love what our drugs of choice give us, our addictions don’t love us back. If we feed them, they will kill us. Even sitting here with over 12 years of sobriety tapped and knowing what I know about what alcohol does to me and could cost me, I consider going back. A glass of wine with dinner ... maybe I could do that. Just a beer or two on a hot summer day, that could be nice. The lies sound like truth in my screwed up head. And sadly, that's why I'm looking so deeply at Cory's death this week. Because for this fleeting moment, his death feels truer than the story my addiction is telling me.
Only by some miracle (or God or whatever you want to call it), I will not drink today. This week it’s partially because Cory Monteith died going back to drugs and alcohol. Next week, it might be because a sober friend who really had it going on falls off the wagon. But Cory is my sobriety talisman this week. He is my truth. I could be Cory Monteith if I listen to the lies that swirl around in my head. But for today, I will not take a drink. God help me, I’ll find a way to see the truth again tomorrow.
Have you seen the consequences of addiction in your life?
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