ALCOHOL BECAME MY GOD
“I discovered alcohol at 13 and for the first time, the very first time, it kind of told me that it was my medication. That it was what I needed to get this feeling, this terrible feeling of loneliness, to leave me. I didn’t like the taste but I liked the effect of alcohol. Alcohol became my…how can I say it…my God! So I finally became a somebody through alcohol. And then this went on and on and on but the pain was always there between the last drink and the next one. This feeling of loneliness will always be there. But as soon as I pick it up, alcohol numbs the feeling.”
I met Yukon Dan when I was visiting Penticton, British Columbia. His story of work and travels around the world is larger than life. But his story of alcoholism and addiction is filled with the limitations of life. What I learned from Yukon Dan is that addictions are perfectly designed to take us away from reality, including the ultimate reality which is the Divine Presence. I searched for a good definition of addiction, especially one that goes beyond substance abuse, and I found this one that spoke to me: “Addiction is repeated involvement with a substance or activity, despite the substantial harm it now causes, because that involvement was (and may continue to be) pleasurable and/or valuable.”
I would add to that definition the involvement with a substance or activity “separates me from my pain.”
This seems perfectly in line with Carl Jung’s two epic statements: “Neurosis is always a substitute for legitimate suffering,” and, “People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own soul.”
This has me reflecting on all the things I do and have done to avoid facing my own soul, my own reality. In particular, I have used relationships, I have used food, and I have used work and busy-ness all to avoid my own soul and my own reality. Overall, I am grateful to be separated from many of the addictive behaviors I suffered in the past. Right now, I am struggling with food and working to change how I often use it to avoid difficult feelings. I am grateful to be living in a time where much more is known about addictions. I am grateful that my own journey, like Yukon Dan’s, has brought me to a deeper relationship with myself, with my fellow human beings, and with God as I understand God.