So, where are you at in life right now? What’s your experience like?
We’ve been looking at how you can take enough steps back to see your experience as a lifelong conversation between the parts of you that push to move you forward and the parts that pull to hold you back.
That conversation can get ugly at times. Certain voices tend to be ignored while others are always amplified. Many disagree.
But when you find ways that work for you to have the conversation publically, you eventually leave yourself with no choice but to take your own next steps toward the life you want.
That probably sounds so nice and tidy, like some cool little quip or mantra to come across in your Instagram feed when you wake up in the morning.
But leaving yourself with no choice is anything but enjoyable.
In fact, when you make your inner conversation public, some of the voices start to get so loud and ugly you’ll be desperate to silence or resolve them; and it’s that desperation that finally drives you to change the station, to rewrite the tickertape, to recode the game, and to step (or collapse . . . gradually . . . by degrees) out into the light of a better you.
After going public with my experience, there came a time when I’d naturally kept my addiction under control for months. I say “naturally” because I didn’t really have to try. My behavior improved because I was already improving as a person. I watched myself make better and better decisions in real time based on my values.
Then I slipped up and started getting high uncontrollably again.
What I’d like to share now are some [high] thoughts recorded during the time of that final slipup.
But first, understand something about the context of what I’m about to share: Since I’d already successfully dug to the depths of my perspective on addiction (and essentially seen myself walk out the other side), my regret and total lack of excuses for again losing control became this crazy, distorted, lunatic voice blaring in my mind. My conscience was so fed up it would literally berate me at every turn with all my own previously shared intuitions and experiences.
So here are some of the last high thoughts I recorded while addicted to weed:
“My goal all along has been to face compulsive desires for exactly what they are without giving in compulsively.
“I summed up a conclusion along those lines in the second-to-last chapter of my Facing Addiction story with a single silly imperative: ‘Just don’t buy weed.’
“Of course that was supposed to be somewhat funny and ironic since the idea of arriving at an ‘inaction plan’ was ridiculous.
“I shared the real conclusion in the last chapter, which was also really no conclusion at all: how in the end there are only various values fighting against specific hindrances as time keeps going by . . . and that’s it.
“Writing and sharing my story set me free from addiction by helping me gain that perspective.
“What I saw take place after that was a series of firsts, like the first time I got high and went straight to my laptop to record thoughts and work on useful projects, or the first time I didn’t use at all one weekend.
“Again, the process was all very natural and unforced.
“Now whenever I start to get high compulsively, my conscience won’t stop screaming at me all the reasons why I already know better, angrily mapping me back to the same intuitions and insights I’ve already searched out, compiled, and made public.
“The more I go against my conscience, the louder and uglier it gets.
“My conscience’s voice has become so harsh because I know I don’t want or need to hear it repeat those same conclusions anymore.
“Despite how angry it can sound, my conscience is ultimately just part of me. It yells at me so I won’t miss seeing everything I’m not.
“Nothing’s changed. I want to truly face myself. I’m concerned because I see I’m troubled and held back in many ways. I still long for peace, simplicity, freedom…
“So I have nothing new to say here except that I don’t want to talk like this anymore. I don’t want or need to have these thoughts. I’ve had them. My addiction story is done. It hurts now to keep needlessly (wastefully) occupying my mind with it.
“I want to be free to think and gain perspective in other areas.
“When I get high, I want to be able to actually relax and have fun or be productive.
“Basically, my goal (as always) is just to use as little as needed for everything it helps me with so it won’t keep me from all the good things using addictively gets in the way of.
“That’s the unchanging core—the why—that my evolving process of how’s, what’s, when’s, and where’s is always being built up around.
“So, that’s me. How might this apply to you?
“In the end, all your compulsions, addictions, and immaturities want is to consume. They want stimulation, certainty, and release.
“What the evolving combination of your values wants is to produce.
“There’s nothing more devastating and detrimental to happiness or progress than seeing what you want not matching how you’re living as life keeps slipping by.
“That’s because you’re not two or more entities, really, but one (made, yes, of many connected parts).
“It’s your life that gets ruined when part of you keeps the whole from living by your values. It’s you that must experience the regret, shame, and consequences.
“Again, there are only so many times and ways you can face how bad it feels to know exactly what you want to be doing (and why) and yet watch yourself not doing it.
“But if you’re just getting started in this process of recovery and honest self-examination, I’d encourage you to resist the urge to make big plans to change everything about your life and behavior right away.
“Instead, just find ways that work for you to naturally share yourself out of all your intuitions and experiences related to your addiction (related to the thing you want to change).
“That’s all. The rest takes care of itself.
“And you know you’ve shared everything once your new perspective empowers you to actually live differently—when you see yourself no longer living as the immature, compulsive consumer.
“Then whenever you start to slip up and lose control again, those intuitions and experiences you’ve shared won’t give you any peace.
“Once you’ve shared everything, nothing can hide any incongruity between your values and behavior.
“The idea is not to keep digging in and adding conceptual weight to what you know of your condition, but to free yourself to experience, consider, and feel everything you can and want to for the rest of your life.
“The process I’m describing always has an end date (for each change you want to make).
“Mapping through and sharing your experience turns your life into an artwork.
“Don’t think of whatever you want to do or be as a set of tasks or skills to practice or acquire, but as foundational characteristics of the person you’re becoming. You are the values you want to live by and bring. Yes, those values can reveal the best tasks for you—the best career, etc. but that’s just a result or effect . . . an outworking.
“Your true art is becoming your best self.
“What you do always comes naturally from what you are.
“I say all this because harsh inner voices always do their best to push you to the pretend safety of planning out every detail of everything you must do; and I’m not telling you to ignore them. Not exactly. Just hear everything they say as only more ideas to try as you continue to move forward and grow as a person.
“You’ll try so many different things to best reach or realize your values (so many methods), as you’ve already been doing all your life.
“It really doesn’t matter exactly how you keep going. And that’s important, because growing up isn’t about keeping to some exact external plan. How could it be?
“Just see how much greater your desire is for what must come next than for whatever’s in the way until it’s impossible to ignore the consequences of not taking that next step.
“And that’s enough.
“Let the angry voices shouting everything you already know about what you want quiet themselves.
“Then you can stop having to know exactly what’s going to happen, how, or when.
“It feels so incredibly surreal to know that these are the last high thoughts I’ll be recording during the time of my addiction.
“And my hypothesis all along seems to have been true (at least in my case): Prepare to go public with your real experience, and it changes you enough to live by your values.
“But my story’s done already. So where are these thoughts going to go?”
P.S. Now here are the very, very last high thoughts I recorded while addicted:
“I know this isn’t quite the right life for me to get high in.
“I really can’t consume anything here because this is a life that rushes out of control in every direction.
“So where/when should I get high, since I love weed and know it’s valuable to me (especially when used in balance)?
“I believe I’ll find weed again when the time and place is right.
“And I know where I must go next.
“I see hints of that new life just over another horizon.
“One thing I’m pretty sure about that coming life is I’ll experience another first when I reach it: the first time I can get high only once after not using for however long.
“Maybe we can all meet in our new places and smile as we watch the world get made better and better.”