My wife took this picture one day during her run. If you look closely enough at the outline of the bird, you can tell it is a robin. From what I know, robins migrate and are supposed to return to the area in which they nest when the weather is most advantageous for them. Somehow this robin got it wrong.
What this photo brought to mind was my struggle with alcoholism. Once the understanding slowly emerged in my drinking mind that I needed to stop drinking or probably end up facing death a lot earlier than I should have, I found myself in the same place as the bird in the picture.
Sobriety seemed a long way off and I could not see what was at the end of that path. I knew what it was like to face life with all its challenges when I was drinking, even with all the negatives that were present. I had no idea what life would be like once I stopped drinking. The very thought of changing my way of living caused so much fear that I was driven back into drinking.
Looking at my life, I felt out-of-place. Others did not have a life that worked like mine. My day was filled with a routine of trying to get something to drink; drink what I had somehow secured; and then trying to hide what I had done. I could not relate to the more balanced existence of my friends and even family members. And yet, the more I fought to change, the stronger the helpless feelings grew. I did not fit, but seemingly could not change my behaviors.
Helplessness slowly transformed into a hopelessness that eventually infiltrated into not only my waking but also my sleeping hours. The worst part of this wasted existence was knowing I needed to transform myself and my life; sensing I could do nothing to begin the needed change process; and then developing a growing perspective that I would always be out of control. So of course, I did what I did best – I drank more which only strengthened my mindset.
On this side of my active alcoholism, I can now see I was the perfect picture of what Paul wrote in Romans 7:19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. At that time I did know this passage but could only bring myself to agree with it and think, “Boy, that Paul was certainly right! I cannot ever quit drinking, I am stuck.”
Being the chief of out-of-context Bible readers, I could not bring myself to acknowledge that Paul, or really God, did not stop writing after verse 19. Just a few verses further I could have read, 24What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
As mired as I was in a dysfunctional drinking pattern, I now wonder, was I really like that robin, helplessly stuck in a place I did not belong with no place to head except towards a goal I had no idea how to find? I know during my drinking days, I felt that way. I learned though, that my feelings cannot always be trusted; especially after I self-medicate them with alcohol. More about feelings another time.
I know I have been blessed as I am still sober today. Truly I can rejoice with Paul when he wrote Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
Hope you come back again. I will wait you!
2 comments on “Helpless and Hopeless No More”
John, Thanks for sharing your stories. I’ll reblog so others can be encouraged. Looking forward to reading more!
Congratulations on your sobriety especially after such a long period of what seems like almost despair. I was using cocaine and drinking 22 hours a day and was also rampantly bulimic. I was warned by the doctors that every time I made myself sick on that quantity of cocaine which I did 3 times a day I could have a fatal heart attack and was given 3 months to live. But because my mother was in a terrible state after multiple strokes I thought I wanted to die. I also took incredible risks with my life to get drugs. I almost enjoyed the fact that I was destroying myself. Before the cocaine I was an alcoholic but I was in such denial that when everyone said I had a drink problem I didn’t believe them and just upped my cocaine use to “control” my drinking. I have to be thankful for my cocaine addiction because without it I would never have got into recovery. I would have remained an alcoholic in denial. My family forced me into treatment in 2005 which changed my life. I was 11 years clean at the beginning of this year and now all my addictions and mental health problems are in recovery I am happier and more peaceful than I have ever been.