Addiction and Joy
This present moment contains so much joy I am literally overflowing with joy. At the time of writing this, I feel so euphoric that I am experiencing this joy. This moment feels like a gift because it is. A real miracle. You may be asking yourself a few questions right now. Why do you feel this and how can anyone feel joy in the midst of all that addiction brings? How is it even possible? Isn’t it selfish? Questions a few years ago I would have asked too. A few years ago, all I knew was to be caught up in chaos. If chaos was the sea, then I was the person drowning in it.
I’ll be honest, this article has been sitting unfinished for a while. The fog of darkness had crept over my life recently and I was firmly not feeling joy. It was there but I could not feel it. Joy was there quietly like a faithful friend who I’d ignored and turned away from. It’s so easy to feel like we will never be ok again and we won’t feel these moments. You will. Life has so many infinite precious moments to share with you.
In the darkness I felt recently, there were moments I would look for joy but I didn’t feel it. In my head I thought ok, maybe it’s like that gratitude practise, keep doing it. Let this practise build up like a habit and at some point, I thought surely, I’ll feel it. Somehow, I kept doing it, thinking it’s more important that I keep the habit going.
It worked. What was the shift? Was it this practise of joy or listening to myself? Or was it giving myself the space I needed, supportive people who gave me space, compassion and love? It was a mixture for sure. But something shifted.
I love looking for joyful, magical moments. I love the feeling I get when I witness these magical moments. Those joyful, happy feelings. Life reminds us constantly that joy is right here. Like when I went to the local co-op and saw an elderly couple shopping. The lady was doing their shopping. He was behind dancing in the aisles to the funky song that was playing. Pure joy. He gave me a little wink as if to say hey, this joy is yours too. I left that shop feeling so much joy. So simple and so beautiful to witness.
I will always have compassion and love for those affected by addiction. I will always hold the grief and sadness. This situation and the darkness I have felt have given me a real appreciation for the absolute beauty and gift that life is. Yes, there were times I hit rock bottom and felt I was crawling out of this space on broken glass. I still hit these moments because that is the nature of addiction and it’s fallout.
As I write this, I am alive and breathing. I have another moment in front of me to make my own choices, to feel happy or sad, to make mistakes and to feel joy. My life is a gift. I appreciate this more because of all I have been through. I will never take it for granted. There were times I doubted I would make it to be honest.
You can take a horse to water, but you can't make it drink.
Ultimately, we have responsibility first and foremost to ourselves. It seems selfish when addiction is going on. Then you have people around you who are wanting you to act and to do something to stop the chaos.
Here’s the cold hard truth. You can't stop anything. You cannot control another person's actions. I say this more as a constant reminder to myself. The only thing I can control is whether I go down with the chaos. Do I let my sanity slip away till there is nothing left?
I realised I do have a choice and perhaps it's the single biggest act of self-love I could ever do.
So, I choose myself. I choose my sanity. I choose my health. Every single day I make this choice. I choose me. Always, everyday in every single way. Is it selfish? Absolutely no way. That old analogy of the oxygen mask on the aeroplane is true. Put your own on first.
It's almost a revolutionary act though, isn’t it? To say I choose myself first. What I have now that I didn't have before is support and tools which include my joy practise.
Joy is one of those things that when you have it and feel it, you wonder how you ever lived without it.
There are so many reasons to feel joy, the joy of being alive. Or being grateful for all that I have and all that I am. The joy of friendship and support. The joy of seeing a sunrise or sunset. The joy of dancing to my favourite song. Joy reminds me there is still so much beauty in life. There’s still goodness, happiness, and magical moments.
Life always reminds me to look for joy. So, whenever something does come up, I know even if I don’t feel it in the moment that Joy is still here in life. It has never gone anywhere. There are just moments in life I am turned away from it. So, I keep doing my joy spotting practise.
The last few articles have been my way of saying life with addiction is not easy. However, there is still love, hope and joy to be found. I don’t say that flippantly because I know first-hand, what chaos and pain look like. I know what it feels like to have your worst nightmares play out and have no control.
If this present moment contains so much joy, this gives me hope. Perhaps the next moment and all the future moments to come, can contain just as much joy. Maybe even more. So, if right now you aren’t feeling joy that is absolutely fine and so understandable. We are works in progress. I hope this gives you abit of hope that your future moments may contain joy too. If you’re low on hope, link at the bottom to my last piece about addiction and hope.
Here is the thing about life. It really is magical and has a way of surprising us with beautiful moments. All we really need to do in the present moment is to keep taking baby steps. Hey, if I can do this, my friend, so can you. We got this.
There will be future posts dedicated to this practise of joy and magical life moments. I think we could all do with more joy and magic.
You can catch Al-Anon on Black Country Xtra Radio. A new 1 hour monthly show comes out on the last Friday of every month and is then repeated every Friday in the month at 3pm.
Al-Anon UK | For families & friends of alcoholics
https://nacoa.org.uk/ (For children of alcoholics).
*Since writing this, of course I have had real moments of panic and tears however, I always come back to joy. In my desire to always be transparent, I felt it is important to say life ebbs and flows with pain and darkness, yet things like joy, hope and love keep me afloat.
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