I had an impromptu meeting with a client the other day who said that for some reason she was always angry. And when I asked what she was angry about, she told me that it was because she was in a halfway house. That the DPS had her child. That even after seven years of using, she hadn't been able to stop. That she had virtually no education. That she had little job experience. She had no car. And had no savings.
And when I asked her who was responsible for all the things she didn't have that seemed important to her she readily admitted that that she was responsible. She said that she had tried and tried many times to get clean and sober but was unable to do so. I asked her why?
She said she wasn't sure. But what would happen is she would get frustrated with her situation and knew the way to feel better really fast was to find a bag of heroin. So I asked her, that if she knew the answer to her dilemma what was the problem with following through? And she shrugged her shoulders and said she really didn't know.
But I told her that I knew the answer, even though I just met her. And what I told her is really the core truths that all of us addicts deal with: we don't quit using until we get enough pain and misery. And the more we use, the more pain and misery we accumulate.
I shared my story with her, about how I got sober 29 years ago. I was homeless. I was broke. I did shoplifting and other kinds of thefts every day to get enough money to exchange for heroin and alcohol.
I sometimes stole a car just so I would have a place to sleep. Once in a while I would get lucky and steal enough to rent a room in a cheap motel for a night or two. But the reality is that my life was totally miserable. I was at a crossroads. I was either going to end up in a mental hospital, back in prison, or dead. And that's when I knew I had enough misery and needed to work on getting sober. Like this client that I'm talking about I already knew who was responsible for my anger and what I had to do to stop being angry.
Sometimes I like to write about things like this because many of us addicts and alcoholics forget who the cause of our problems really is. I remember a cartoon character named Pogo many years ago and in the cartoon strip he was standing in front of a mirror and saying "I have met the enemy. And it is me."
And that line has always stuck with me because I know that no matter what goes wrong in my life 99.9% of the time I am the enemy. And when I leave other people out of the equation and look clearly at myself I know that I have met the cause of my problems. Do I still get angry? Yes. And do I know who is responsible? Yes. But If I don't know, all I have to do is look in the mirror and there is the culprit.