Monday, July 6, 2009


"Tweak" is the book I am currently reading. In this autobiography, Nic Sheff details his battle with drug addiction, his many relapses and his road to recovery. A little while ago I read Nic's father's memoir "Beautiful Boy", which describes Nic's addiction from a father's perspective. As I have been reading lately, I've been struck by just how much I admire anyone who is able to overcome drug addiction. It is so easy to dismiss people who find themselves in this situation and for people on the outside to just say "They made that choice so they have no-one to blame but themselves". I do believe that there are many sides to a story and that ultimately we are all responsible for our own lives, but the courage and determination it must take to pull yourself out of that kind of situation is enormous. To have nothing left in life, to have burnt all your bridges, to feel so alone, to not know how to get back into 'the real world', to have to deal with the physical pain of coming off drugs, that takes real guts. To know how difficult getting clean or sober is and to still choose to do that, rather than take the easy way out, takes enormous strength. 

I have no experience with drug addiction but in some ways I feel as though I can relate to the feeling of utter hopelessness, of feeling alone and misunderstood, of your life being completely out of your control, of reaching that moment where the choice is 'do or die'. So many things that Nic writes about in his experience of working through the 12-steps have struck a cord with me, in the sense that it is quite similar to strategies I have tried to use to get myself through post natal depression. The idea of surrendering yourself to a Higher Power is something I haven't spoken much about, but it is a concept that I believe I fell back on in my darkest time. In the nightmare days before I could be admitted into St John of God hospital I remember getting to the point where I just kept repeating to myself over and over again "God will never give me more than I can handle, God will never give me more than I can handle". I am not really religious and am not sure who or what I believe 'God' to be, but on that particular day I believe that surrendering to a Higher Power was the only thing that got me through. When I had absolutely no answers and nothing left to try and felt that I was standing at the edge of a cliff, my final option was to throw my hands up and have faith that something bigger than myself would step in and help me.

Taking one day at a time is another theme Nic talks about when discussing his recovery. I too fully believe in the power of this strategy and the way in which it can change your life for the good. It takes considerable practice to learn to keep your mind in the here and now, but it can be done and it gives you such a sense of peace when you can master it. It has enabled me to feel that the weight of the world has been lifted from my shoulders and it is something I am working on all the time.

The final thing I want to discuss from the book, and the thing that resonates most with me, is the life changing effect that giving to others has on your own life. In the book, Nic's sponsor in the 12-step program tells him that:
"....the only thing that ever really gives us any genuine satisfaction is caring for other people. It doesn't matter how popular we are or anything. The only thing that actually makes life more fulfilling is our love for others. When I help you, I'm really helping myself - saying yes to humanity and to the connection that exists among all people. And the results speak for themselves". 

Nic begins to see this more clearly in his own life as he puts all his effort into staying clean and following the 12-steps. He realises that the times he has known some sort of inner peace in his life, has been the times when he focused on helping others more than himself. Volunteering, helping at a school, cooking dinner for family, talking to a friend on the phone and just letting them vent without judging or offering an opinion. These are the moments when he can stop obsessing about himself and really feel a sense of liberation. Nic says this is something that he never really understood before, but now he does.

When I read this section of the book I was amazed at how well this summed up my feelings. Prior to the past year I too had never fully understood this concept. Yes, I have always wanted to help others and make a difference but I haven't been able to do it on a level where I could completely remove all thoughts of myself or my own life. I feel very lucky to have come to truly understand this concept now and to have experienced the feeling that comes from living your life in such a way. I believe wholeheartedly that the more you give to others the more gifts you receive. When I help people and they offer their gratitude or thanks I am the one who actually feels so grateful and thankful because they are doing me a favour. They are allowing me to experience the amazing feeling that comes from helping someone. 

And on that note, its time for me to stop my ponderings for the night and grab a couple of precious hours of sleep while I can. 

No comments:

Post a Comment