Secrets: The Superfood of Addiction

How many green smoothies are clogging your news feed on Facebook and Pinterest these days? Every day it’s another picture posted by another person gushing about the merits of their baby-poop-coloured concoction.

Now I like smoothies on occasion and yes I, too, have been delighted to find that adding a bag of spinach to raspberries and yogurt in a blender tastes surprisingly good. I swear, though, that half of these folks really just want you to know that they gagged it down and are digesting 5 cups of spinach RIGHT NOW. (Note: give it a couple of hours and then update us on the outcome…or…don’t.)

Between the weird smoothie craze and all the noise about gojii berries, acacia juice, and coconut oil, we are constantly bombarded with the notion of “superfoods”.

When I hear that someone is on a whole food, super food, raw food diet I think, “Wow, how do you even manage that?” There was a time, two and a half years ago, when I wondered the exact same thing about people who don’t drink, or even those who drink normally.

“How do you manage an evening without drinking?” I’d wonder. “Do people just, like, have water? Or tea? And then read or go to bed? And feel happy about that?” I’d spent so many years unwinding with wine in the evening, (or eventually at the end of the day because evening didn’t come fast enough), that I could no longer even imagine life without it.

­­Since I pledged recovery (a new phrase I’m liking better than “got sober” or “quit drinking” – let me know your thoughts, please) – since I pledged recovery I have not looked back. It was hard at first but it got easier and easier with time to form new patterns and habits. And yes, a cup of tea and a good book really does make for a fine evening.

Perhaps most surprising to me is that the changes continue, the recovery continues; even after all this time. My peace has grown exponentially in recent months as a result of examining the secrets I’ve kept hidden inside.

Have you ever run into the store to pick up one or two items and instead ended up filling your arms and tottering to the cashier? And when a helpful clerk says, “Here, hon, let me help you”, it’s almost a bother because you can’t seem give over one thing without toppling the whole load? You finally start setting it all down and it’s kind of a shock to realize you had a six pack of Gatorade hanging off your right pinky and a tube of toothpaste tucked under your chin and a can of tomatoes centered perfectly in your palm with a watermelon nestled in the crook of each arm. “Whoa, why the hell didn’t I use a cart?” you marvel and feel slightly impressed with your juggling abilities.

That was exactly my experience when I started to realize the shitload of secrets I was protecting. Yes, yes I am familiar with the good old AA mantra, “you’re only as sick as your secrets”. But I hate clichés and especially those with alliteration.

And besides, I thought the secrets that particular expression refers to are only DRINKING secrets. I didn’t have any left really – well except that I had drank in secret. And recovered in secret. And blog secretly.

But lets talk about other secrets. The “peed my pants in sixth grade” variety. Or maybe those private things we call “indiscretions”. Secret things I dislike about myself. Dumb stuff I’m embarrassed I ever took part in. Weaknesses and failures. None of these things have ANYTHING to do with my addiction, though. Right?

My vision is of a garbage can that I have to drag around with me and sit on top of at all times to make sure that nothing gets out and no one peeks in. Of course, I have painted that garbage can and bedazzled it so it looks good on the outside. I can tap dance on top of it and pretend it is a stage. Or a soap box for mighty narrations. But inside, inside are all those secrets piled together. I don’t know what all is even in there after all these years but I know it will stink if I lift the lid and I’m sure as hell not going to let YOU catch a whiff.

Dragging this can around is exhausting. The job of sitting on the lid limits my activities and freedom to choose. I’m tired of waving my arms and telling knock-knock jokes to try and distract from its presence.

Fuck it. Let’s tip this sucker over.

Whoa – metaphor overload! Green smoothies and shopping carts and garbage cans. Are you still with me? Let’s bring it on home.

Addiction feeds on secrets – especially those sneaky ones you don’t even realize are tucked under your chin or dangling off your pinkie. The things we think are true about ourselves that must be hidden from others are especially destructive. That’s the spinach in addiction’s smoothie. The stuff you know you hide, the stuff in your own garbage can, that’s just old junk holding you back.

Dump it out. Set it down. Have a look – it doesn’t smell nearly as bad as you think. Face it, think about it. Look in the mirror and say, “Yep, that really happened.” You’d be amazed how quickly the power dissolves when you share it with another person, if you dare.

It feels great to be more than just sober.

It is great to truly be recovering.