For a third of my life, I have only known darkness, and the only familiarity with its opposite left much to be desired. With Independence Day quickly approaching, it only seems appropriate to talk about the word most closely associated with this holiday, freedom. It seems that in order to really appreciate our freedom, we must acknowledge that lurking somewhere beneath its depths, is the bondage of slavery. Both come in many forms and are represented by many images and motifs. Freedom means mental and emotional enlightenment whereas slavery is reminiscent of lightlessness, or the absence of courage, wisdom, and power. During those years of drinking, drugs, and despair, my natural aversion to darkness in all forms was turned on its head. In the literal sense, I loathed the daytime as its only purpose was served as an intermission between bouts of unabashed, and uninhibited drinking. Without light there cannot be life, and I was certainly bankrupt of either of these. In a metaphorical sense, light is a representation of many qualities; honesty, goodness, faith, strength, and of course freedom. Psalms tells us that truth is a lamp for our feet and a light to our path. As long as I continued to relegate myself to living a lie, I would merely exist with as much purpose as a candle with no flame to ignite its wick. The same light I fought so hard to blind myself from all those years would eventually become exactly what was required to emancipate myself from this slavery to the abyss of darkness. Only then I was able to see the light at the end of the tunnel; I was able to feel freedom within my grasp.
I find it difficult to commit energy to metaphysical or supernatural matters, and as a general rule, try to avoid getting caught up in this type of contemplation. Working in recovery, however, has unfortunately made me rethink this approach as anyone who works closely with addicts will probably attest that dark forces are very real, and very alive within this disease. As someone who almost chose a permanent residence on that proverbial dark side of the moon, there’s only one thing I’ve ever felt more viscerally than that permanent blackness; and that is the feeling of rebirth from the light. Aristotle said, “It is during our darkest moments that we must focus on the light”. Before I decided to embark on my own journey towards it, I always found that quote to be extremely vague, fruitless, and lazy, especially considering the regard I held for its author! Now humbled and ashamed of my prior ignorance, I surely see now the projection of my own lack of clarity and frustration on to this wisdom. I recognize that the slavery I was suffering was of my own making. Three key factors that can facilitate the finding of ones freedom from addiction are also, not so coincidentally, the three things I mentioned earlier that are absent from enlightenment; power, courage, and wisdom. We need to harness the power to respond to challenges, the courage to choose a different way, and the wisdom to take direction from our true selves as well as other in order to create lasting change. Here at South Orange County Detox and Treatment, we pride ourselves in helping the individual pave a path that encapsulates all of these. We do not nor cannot promise to give you freedom; we do, however, promise to help you shed the chains of slavery and to walk with you while you amass freedom for yourself. We encourage you to not only honor our collective freedom this 4th of July, but to emancipate ourselves from the slavery of addiction and celebrate the potential of our individual freedom.