They say the recipe for sobriety calls for three main ingredients: to trust God (as we know him), to clean our house (take inventory, make amends), and to work with others (fellowship, community). As someone who loves to cook, I’m usually inclined to follow the directions exactly as they are. But lately, the more time I spend in the kitchen, the more I’m tempted to improvise. Cooking is, after all, an art of sorts – is it not?
You begin with a vision. You choose three bases: starches/grains, proteins, and produce. You gather together a bundle of ingredients, all different in color, texture, taste, and smell. As you experiment with the various combinations of foods, your vision may begin to change. And that’s okay, because art is free. There are no rules, there are no limits. The plate is your oyster. As your basic mold begins to form, you notice something seems to be missing…garnishes! Scavaging through your pantry and/or garden, you choose some spices and herbs to give your masterpiece the final touches. And voila! There you have it. Your finished work.
Life is a lot like cooking, I’m starting to see. Or, for a more accurate metaphor: The world is your kitchen, and cooking is a lot like living. The ingredients you choose are the decisions you make, and your final product(s) are the consequences.
The way I cook reflects the way I live, quite a bit. I’m actually pleased with how well this metaphor is working out right now. Ha.
I always begin with a recipe. I ask for guidance. I try to follow the rules. But I’m a rebel – what can I say? So I end up winging it. I’ll take the basic format of a recipe and make various tweaks, both major and minor. Whatever floats my boat, really. Much like life, I’m desperate for guidance. But it’s difficult for me to follow rules that don’t line up with my beliefs or lifestyle. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for an open mind, and am willing – always – to try something new, something different. But if it doesn’t work for me, it doesn’t work for me.
Over time, as more and more ‘recipes’ have ended up not working out for me, I’ve learned to let go of the idea of conformity. Holding on to it ends up hurting me more than it does serving me. I’ve always felt like a disappointment whenever I failed to conform to some norm, idea, or belief – especially if it’s highly appealing to me.
Take, for example, sobriety. I tried. I mean I really tried this week. But the longer I went on without a drink or a toke, the more miserable and isolated I felt. Even more than I did using. I know, I know. Everyone feels that way when they’re in early recovery. It’s just the drugs leaving your body. But I’m the type of person that puts constant pressure on herself to be perfect, and the pressure I put on myself to conform to the rules of sobriety weighed heavily on me; the guilt that built up was more than I’d ever felt when I was high, drunk, or coming down. And that’s just it. The guilt. It eats me alive and I’m fucking sick of it. Why must I ALWAYS put that type of pressure on myself to change? Why can’t I just leave myself be, accept who I am, LOVE who I am, and let myself enjoy all the wonderful things in life – including those that I let for so long bring me down because I felt I needed to change, to be someone who, quite frankly, I’m just not. My mind is screaming at me to change, but my soul is begging for acceptance.
I am my own chef, and you, my friends, are in my kitchen. I don’t need to follow a recipe to make a good meal. I can pick and choose what I want to include, and omit those ingredients I feel serve no purpose for me and my tastebuds. It’s all about moderation.
What am I saying, there’s no such thing for an addict. That may be so, but I have to give myself a little more credit. Despite my impulsivity and lack of moderation, I’ve made a lot of good choices in my life. I’ve known when to step on the breaks, and when to gas it. I’m a lot smarter, wiser, and stronger than I give myself credit for. But even so, I am weak, frail, and easily broken. I’m a balancing act. Life is a balancing act. Despite my BPD, life is not all black and white. I am not either strong or weak, smart or stupid, and addict or not. Some days I’m better, stronger, wiser, and more balanced than others. Some days I’m a fucking mess. I have to learn to accept that. I’ve always been a bit back and forth, moving from extremes, ever since I was a child. I can’t blame that solely on drug abuse, there’s more to it. But that I shall leave to a psychiatrist to figure out.
My point is, I can be who I am, do what I like, and still be a good person. Still live a good, meaningful life.
The ingredients for sobriety: trust God, clean house, work with others. I can do all of these things all the while indulging in the list of allergens that I am so often told to avoid by the FDA (Forgo Drug Addiction).
All of my life I have shamed myself for not being the ideal me. If, after years and years of trial and error, maybe it’s time to accept that who I am might not be so bad after all. The mediocre casserole that I’ve made of my life doesn’t taste too bad, though it might need a little salt.