Battling addiction is a fight. I’ve been in a fair few scraps over the years, some physical, some mental and some sports based, but trying to stay clean from substances of any sort is a different ballgame all together. Its a fight but a good fight, that’s if you win however, nevertheless I believe its the toughest one you can ever face, and its one that feels like it will never end.
When I left rehab last time I remember tussling with my own mind and thoughts related to using just days after leaving, and although I was able to resist them (for a while) I knew I was involved in a monumental battle and one which would determine the course of my life.
I am a big boxing fan and I relate boxing to battling addiction and staying abstinent. Ding ding, Round one, you are fresh and ready to “smash it”, your mentally in the right frame of mind, alert and focused but after the bell goes, you get hit with a big right hand from your opponent and you instantly doubt whether you are capable of doing it. The bell goes for the end of the round and you go back to your corner, where you have your closest support team around you, for some that’s a Mum, Dad, Husband or Wife etc. they are shouting out endless words of encouragement because they believe in you, then its ding ding for rounds two, three and four where you are just hanging on in there, like a lightweight fighting a heavyweight, out of your depth, David against Goliath. The bell goes again and you go back to your corner, this time your team is getting more aggressive and annoyed with you as you are fighting back less and less, and the words are going in one ear and out the other, all hazy and distorted, seemingly listening but really vacant.
As rounds five, six and seven pass by, they are a blur, you have taken endless punishment, your head is pounding, ears are ringing, the communication with your team is non existent, they have given up on you and you are ready to give up on them, but you keep on fighting, for whatever reason, whether it be a Son, Daughter or just Yourself, whatever it is you keep going.
As you approach the latter rounds, you aren’t in any shape to continue, people look on thinking that they should help, step in and stop the fight but they know that its down to you, it has to be your decision, its painful to watch, seeing you fall apart in front of everyone, its all on you, fight or flight, but somehow you don’t have the strength to fight back, so you continue to stand there, a left hook, and uppercut, a right cross all to the head, causing unlimited lasting damage, in the same way that the abuse of your substance of choice has on your brain, the its ding ding, you stumble back to the corner for the last time as you get ready to fight the last round, but there is no fight left in you. You have stopped believing in yourself, everyone else has given up on you but you for some weird, sick, sadistic reason you carry on subjecting yourself to this level of punishment, I deserve it, I am worthless, you cant hurt me more than i’m hurting myself, all ringing through your head, by now it feels like there is no one left in the arena except you and your opponent, your drug or substance, and the silence is deafening, the original hope and motivation gone, and its just one more round. I could go down to my knees now and submit but F**k it, I deserve another beating, keep this punishment coming. The seconds run down, the punches keep coming, the blood keep pouring out like the emotions of guilt, loneliness, sadness and depression also ooze out of your body, then you see it coming, you leave your gloves down by your waist and bang, one last punch, the knockout blow, that hammer shot which knocks you off your feet and takes you to that point of near death, the place where you had hoped you would never get to again, then the bell goes, ding ding, for the last time, you are down, on the deck with no one to help you get up, you’ve lost the fight again and lost the support of others. If you had your way you would stay down for good, for as long as it takes for it all to disappear and go away until you are fit enough to start another fight all over, and by then you forgot the pain that you felt during the last fight that you are willing to put your body through that beating again.
But what would happen if one day you were in the same fight and it got to round four or five and you went back to your corner and actually started listening to the people around you and actually start telling yourself, you know what, I can do this, I can win this fight, I’ve been beaten too many times, in front of too many people and I refuse to go down and lose again, I’m bigger and better than you and I’m going to knock the living daylights out of you! You might have had the beating of me for weeks, months or even years but I’ve got the measure of you know what I need to do. Its not a physical fight its a mental fight and I’m going beat you in the mind, I’ve got what it takes to outwit you and i’m going to land the decisive knock out blow. You duck and weave, sidestep and move around the ring like a gazelle, oozing motivation and self confidence, suddenly you’ve found your mojo, you realise that you CAN beat this ‘thing‘ this poisonous opponent that you have battled endlessly and been battered down. You don’t actually need to throw any punches yourself because the fact that you aren’t getting hit is victory in itself. Eventually the bell goes, the crowd are still there, your support team are still in the corner and the referee hold up your hand signalling victory, you’ve done it, you’ve beaten your addiction, and you can leave with your head held high, knowing that you will live a life that you dictate and one that’s not dictated to you, a life full of happiness, with friends, family and more importantly self belief, self esteem and a positive outlook, a belief of a future where you actually love yourself.
I relate boxing to addiction simply because I love boxing and I Loved (past tense) cocaine, but its a fight and it will continue to be the toughest fight of my life but you know what? I actually believe that I have what it takes to win, the tools, the punches, the attitude and the confidence and the reward at the end of it, a life, not a mere existence, is enough of a reward to make me want to keep fighting, better than any world championship belt any boxer could win.
I’ll fight on, no belts needed just winning at life.
Like a Champ.