Worth Revisiting: A Slippery Slope

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She was a bit surprised to see him there..standing among his homeless companions of many years. For several months he had found sobriety along with an apartment and a day job, maintaining his distance from a number of his former friends. The last time we had seen him he had appeared healthy and in much better spirits thankful for the care and concern shown. Not today though. Today, he was visibly agitated and the closer she got the more she realized his sobriety was no more. Greeting everyone present, one by one she checked in with them and handing them coffee as they spoke.

“I need 5 dollars and if you really cared about me you’d give it to me”. “Jim”, said one of the other men “now you know she doesn’t give money. Leave her alone.” Yet, he persisted getting more belligerent each time he spoke, till finally he said. “You know what I need it for, and if I don’t have a drink soon I will die”.  Sadness, filled her heart at that moment. She had seen him at this point before and it had nearly taken his life. There was no such thing as one small drink, or a stopping point for “Jim” it was all consuming. He had fallen into his addiction again, and all of the old habits that befriend it.

As any conversation with an AA or NA member will tell you..sobriety is not a sprint but a lifelong cross country journey. A constant attraction towards your own destruction, with the deceptive lure of rationalization and self reliance there at the ready. Those family members and friends that stay the course are well accustomed to the roller coaster of pain, joy, success and failure that are present along the way.

Yet this is true, though perhaps to a lesser extent, of every battle with temptation, sin and desolation.  Do we recognize our own weaknesses and the slippery slope that we start down when we once again find ourselves facing our worst selves? Will we be pulled under, will we try to go it alone, or will we seek help?

Awareness and Accompaniment.

While each of us were made for more, we repeatedly find ourselves choosing less. Being aware of that which is lesser and our own inclinations to a particular temptation or sin is a good step towards being better prepared when we meet it again. Still, the beauty of our faith is that we are never alone in our journey towards God. Though sin usually carries with it guilt, shame, and insecurities- our faith bears mercy, love and hope.  Through reconciliation, and in community we find both strength and accompaniment, encountering not condemnation and an all loving and merciful Father. Only then are we truly able to accompany others- to offer love and mercy in the struggle, and compassion and hope where none were evident before.

“Lord, thank you for loving me- knowing all of my weaknesses and being there to catch me when I fall.  Help me to keep my eyes open to the pitfalls ahead, and my ears ready to hear your voice. Carry me through, Lord. And please I ask dear gracious Father, make my heart ready to respond to the needs of others.” 

Peace,

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2 thoughts on “Worth Revisiting: A Slippery Slope

  1. Agreed, about sprints and marathons – and sobriety. Although I think giving “Jim” money would be a massively imprudent action, I can – in a sense – sympathize with “Jim.” I also hope that he succeeds in getting back on track toward continued sobriety. It is a very difficult process, and one that won’t be ‘over’ while we’re alive.

    What he described sounds a great deal like withdrawal. What folks used to call ‘the DTs’ or delirium tremens. Although the stereotype “wretched drunkard” might be dramatizing the situation for coercive purposes – – – that is not, I think, the only possible explanation.

    I gather that “withdrawal” is a generic term for symptoms experienced when ending use of a substance on which the body has become dependent – and is used illegally. “Discontinuation syndrome” is a euphemism for the same thing when the drug was used legally.

    I’ve experienced “discontinuation syndrome” a few times, on my way to learning how to get re-authorizations from the medicos to the pharmacy; and that’s another topic.

    It’s an exquisitely unpleasant experience. I knew enough about the processes to realize that – despite how I was feeling – I almost certainly would not die. Someone in “Jim’s” position might not have that knowledge, or might be experiencing symptoms worse than mine.

    Like

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