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October 03 • Does It End?

Day 817

From sermon illustrations to Aesop’s Fables, I’ve learned many of life’s elusive lessons through metaphors and linking values from one arena to another. In addiction — as well as with depression — I have often leaned into my understandings of the more concrete examples from the more obvious physical world that can be touched, measured, and explained.

My wife was recently diagnosed as a diabetic. She has used that to explain to me how she views my addiction:

“Neither can be seen, but left untreated, both will change us physically and mentally, and likely even kill us.”

I appreciate that attempt at empathy, but diabetic sugar levels can be measured, appendages can be amputated, and physical sufferers can generally know scientifically where they are on the spectrum. Maybe the comparison would have been more legit with the lesser medical understandings of a century ago. Perhaps the brain chemicals to diagnose sexual addiction will be better identified and quantified a century from now. However, today, there is still a chasm of understanding between diseases of the mind and illnesses of the body.

But there is a metaphorical anti-connection between treatments and cures, at least for me. A football player’s broken bone can heal, but seeing a football years later will not make him want to go out and break his arm again. Allergies can be treated and even largely controlled by avoidance and medicines, but I’ve never known anyone that is breathing well to go in search of a field of goldenrods because they miss sneezing.

I can hope for a day when I will never again be triggered in my disease by a random computer pop-up or a flirtatious woman in search of affirmation, but I dare not count on it. That is not negative thinking; it is specifically positive thinking that says I can avoid throwing my life away by working my program, sharing my struggles and victories in 12 Step meetings, and being willing for spiritual growth.

I do appreciate the attempts to compare my disease with other disorders. It helps with certain aspects, but at the end of the day, I am an addict that wants to be cured. But I will live today knowing that I am an addict and will likely always be an addict, whether I'm acting out or not. I also anticipate living that approach tomorrow. If that keeps me sober, that will be enough.




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