27 Jun Filling the God Sized Hole
For a lot of alcoholics, finding drugs and alcohol was a welcome relief. As a kid, I remember being keenly aware of a distance that existed between me, and everyone around me. It was like they all knew the punch line to some cosmic joke, and I was the only one in the room who wasn’t laughing. So, when I got high for the first time it was as if all the discomfort I felt in my own skin disappeared and for the first time I was no longer on the outside looking in. The problem was that getting high was a temporary solution to a permanent problem. The drugs would get harder and the frequency with which I used them increased, as I kept trying to recreate that initial feeling of release that I got the first time I used. At the end I was searching for an escape that didn’t exist anymore, trying to fill a God sized hole with drugs and alcohol that just weren’t doing the trick.
Alcoholics Anonymous and the 12 steps gave me back that same relief that I initially got from drugs. Through working the steps, I came to find out that external fixes would never fill that internal hole the way service, spirituality and living the right way would. Alcoholics are stubborn people though and sometimes those external fixes start to seem really attractive, even in sobriety.
Fixating on things like gambling, sex, food and money can be an easy pitfall for sober alcoholics to walk into. If the spiritual malady isn’t being treated through working a program, unhealthy living starts to seem like a good idea because of the instant but temporary gratification that it provides. It is not uncommon for someone who isn’t hitting meetings, working steps and working with sponsees to start to get caught up and lost in the high that compulsive gambling or irresponsible sexual behavior offers. These kinds of behaviors function the same way as the drugs and alcohol do in active addiction – a quick, impermanent high, coupled with progressively more unmanageability surrounding the behavior. In other words, a recipe for relapse.
If these kinds of behaviors are such a bad idea, why do people who have given up drugs and alcohol choose to engage in them? Ultimately, alcoholics have to fill that God sized hole with something. For someone active in his or her recovery that happens through meetings, healthy living, giving back to others, and following spiritual principles. When we are participating in our own sobriety, we feel good and our lives flourish. If an addict stops doing those things however, they start looking for quick fixes to feel better. For young people this can be difficult, especially when you see people around you doing this kind of stuff with seeming impunity.
Part of living in recovery is recognizing that the quick fixes don’t work in the long run. We have to learn to forego the instant gratification that these unhealthy behaviors provide for the long-term serenity that comes from working a program. As sober alcoholics we get to choose how comfortable or uncomfortable we want to be by the actions that we take. If we focus our energy on spiritual growth and program, rather than using assorted vices to fill the God sized hole, we get to experience the peace that comes from being comfortable in our own skin.