“Fear is the memory of pain. Addiction is the memory of pleasure. Freedom is beyond both.” – Deepak Chopra
Is there anyone among us who hasn’t experienced fear? When it happens, it appears the powerful emotion completely takes hold. You can’t breathe. It’s difficult to think clearly, let alone make responsible decisions. Every bad thing that ever happened, all the pain you felt, wells up inside you and that’s all you remember. Worst of all, fear stops you in your tracks and all forward momentum may suddenly cease.
It’s the same with addiction — but even worse. Instead of feeling fear, when you’re addicted, what you remember is how good that addictive substance or behavior felt. Your brain has been rewired because of your addiction. Furthermore, common sense – as well as the commitment to abstain from the toxic substance or behavior – often disintegrates in face of the overwhelming desire to satisfy the craving.
- You hear the tinkling of ice cubes in a glass, and can’t stop thinking about satisfying your urge to drink.
- The sound of people laughing and joking, the sight of upraised liquor glasses and bottles of beer, commercials for alcohol on TV, the sour smell of beer as you walk past a tavern or the sight of a beer keg at a picnic precipitates an incessant, gnawing craving to go back to the substance you committed to give up.
Freedom offers a release.
What we want in both fear and addiction is a release, to be unfettered by the crippling emotion and devastating addiction. We want to move forward with confidence and a belief in our ability to forge a path that’s conducive to happiness, productivity and self-fulfillment. What we’re talking about here is freedom, for freedom is beyond and completely unaffected by fear and addiction.
Can’t we experience freedom with a drug of choice? On the contrary, that’s not freedom but numbing out, escaping, abdicating responsibility and surrendering to cravings and urges. When you’re free, you operate from a place of knowledge and choice. You choose what to do and what not to do. No one else does that for you.
You can feel fear without succumbing to it.
It’s important to recognize that you can feel fear without fear taking over. Don’t give fear the power to do that. This doesn’t mean that there won’t be times when you’re anxious or uneasy and fearful of an outcome or your ability to tackle and complete a task, figure out a difficult problem or find the appropriate solution to a vexing issue. It’s also normal to be afraid of the unknown.
This is where courage comes in. Acknowledging fear for what it is and then pledging to move forward with constructive action bursts the fear balloon. This is courage, an instrumental element of freedom.
Remember you are responsible for your choices.
There will always be triggers to deal with, although these will lessen over time, working recovery, staying strong and committed to sobriety. There will also always be situations where the pull is so intense that it’s nearly impossible to resist. Yet, here is where the choices you make determine the outcome. You can give in, and regret the slip, give up sobriety altogether, pass it off as a one-time thing. Or, you can make use of the coping techniques in your recovery toolkit, steel your resolve and choose to remain steadfast in your sobriety.
Once again, no one else makes these choices. Only you do that. And you are the only one responsible for them. When you choose to move beyond fear and addiction, you’re acting with freedom. For personal integrity, as well as living a productive, satisfying life, it doesn’t get any better than this.
Do you have all the answers with freedom? No, you probably won’t. Yet you’ll be better equipped to deal with the various choices available to you and to decide which among them best suits your needs at the time. This is freedom — allowing you to move far beyond both fear and addiction.