Battle Fields of Heart and Mind

Battle Fields of Heart and Mind

I don't usually talk about my sobriety on social media. But I am more than four years sober. I am in recovery. That means I was once in active addiction/alcoholism. I also battled an eating disorder, too. People see me as a reasonably upstanding person, I think. But the truth is, I've been in dark places and in scary situations more times than many of you might suspect. 

The reason people call addiction or alcoholism a disease is because addicts and alcoholics are wired differently than the rest of you. I can't tell you how many times I've been amazed at people who can sip a beer casually. Quite simply, that sort of ability is just not in my DNA. Similar to how other folks might be predisposed to cancer - I'm predisposed to addiction.

Every addict/alcoholic is different. It will take different things to make people surrender. I can tell you what probably won't work: shame. Shame is what drives so many of us to numb ourselves to the world - to hide out from fully engaging it with clear minds. We have been made to feel like it's all our fault - when actually - many of us are operating within a highly oppressive and dehumanizing system.

I think about the men who go off to war and come home to a country that won't to care for them. They drink, use drugs and become homeless. They face daily scorn and maltreatment from the people the fought for. I think about the couple in East Liverpool. I know that town. Folks who live there have been poisoned by the world's largest hazardous waste incinerator. The pottery and steel industries which used to pay them good wages have moved overseas.

A once vibrant community has slowly atrophied. Now, as a person in recovery, I know we can't sit in victimhood too long. I know we have to see our part in things, take responsibility and connect to something bigger than ourselves. That's the only way to solve the physical, mental and spiritual sickness that afflicts us.

However, as a community organizer, I also know that we live in a world that in many cases and places, drives us to despair, tells us we are not good enough, fosters shame, and feeds that deep spiritual sickness that plagues so many addicts and alcoholics who still suffer.

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