Spiritual Enlightenment – Do Drugs Help?

addictionOccasionally, I’ll look at the dashboard of this site, and one or more of the search terms will catch my eye. Mostly, even after the awful year I’ve had, the search terms that are the most likely to drive traffic here are “three boobs”, “motorcycle gangs”, and my personal favorite, “nipple shirts”. Let’s face it. Three Boobs and Nipple Shirts are subjects that aren’t really good foundations for a serious conversation about life. It’s just appalling to me that men wear shirts that show their nipple. Ugh. “Motorcycle Gangs” is more interesting, but again, I doubt I have much to contribute to that subject anymore. But today, I found one in my little collection that made me stop and say “hmmm”. The term was this:

meth spiritual enhancement

So, to the person who typed in this awesome search term, this one’s for you.

In my quest to understand what Chef was going through, I studied everything I could find about this creepy drug. What I found out could fill up volumes, but for this discussion, I’ll boil down some things I understand about the drug that I believe should be considered directly in connection with spiritual enhancement, or any kind of enhancement, for that matter….physical, academic, cultural, etc. Enhancements when you are high are only Huge Brain Farts when you sober up again.

To my understanding, the drug affects the pleasure center of your brain. This magnificent computer we carry around inside of our skulls works like a file cabinet, storing and categorizing things constantly. If a memory makes you happy, it tends to store that memory close by for future reference. If some memory makes you sad, it cleans up that cluttered file up, and safely keeps moving it back into the recesses of your brain. It’s the same for things that give us pleasure. It’s stored safely with reach. That being said, I do wonder if people actually stop and really examine what we each have stored there. If singing show-tunes on top of your roof in your birthday suit for the entire world to see is something that you derive real pleasure from, chances are this drug will enhance that desire in you, and your filter which considers consequences of such an action will be bypassed. You’ll dance, sing and traumatize the neighbors to your heart’s content, and you’ll feel good about it… “I finally get to be me!” you’ll be assuring yourself. Until your filter comes back to life again when you sober up, and you’re in jail for public nudity holding an eviction notice in your hand, and the creepy cat lady down the street is suddenly in love with you has baked you a cake with a shank in it. Suddenly, the problems you were trying to escape from in the first place don’t seem as bad as the ones you’ve just created during your “mental vacation”.

See how that works? If God, spirituality, religion, or some such thing is something you get pleasure from, you bet your booties, it’ll come up when you are high. I know, because when I used this drug, God was foremost in my thoughts and actions. And yet, even in my intoxicated state, while I felt like God appreciates all the publicity He can get, my conscience kicked in at the same time, imploring me to wait until I was sober before launching into whatever ridiculous thing I was poised to do for Him, like what I’d learned about Him while I was high. I’m pretty sure He’s grateful I didn’t try to “help” the cause during those moments.

It is my opinion that most people, especially men, tend to have sex in their pleasure centers, and women love. Meth is considered a sex enhancement drug, but it didn’t work that way for me at all. Because of my complicated relationship with sex, it didn’t actually take up residence in the pleasure center of my brain; but love did. As long as Chef made me feel like he loved me…high or not…I was on board with the sex thing. But if he didn’t, he was on his own. Meth is a very selfish drug. Right there, you can almost see why this crappy drug ruins marriages. One person wants to feel loved; the other wants pure, animal sex. And for most people, there is the ability to love someone without having sex with them, and to have sex with someone you don’t love. Hence, breakdowns occur.

I’d always be very careful about anything that you “learn” on meth, or any drug. Without that consequence filter, we are susceptible to accepting lies, and turning them into truths in our own minds, which invariably leads to being slapped on the side of the head with our “Oh-Crap!-What-Have-I-Done” brain-gag reflex instead. Can you learn spiritual truths when you’re high? Sure. You can probably learn anything on dope if it’s important enough to you.

Once upon a time, God made a donkey talk but just because you see Donkey jabbering at you while you’re high, it doesn’t mean you actually a) saw a donkey physically speaking to you or that you’re a character on the next Shrek, or that b) all donkeys secretly know how to talk and are laughing silently at us clueless humans, or even that c)  God had something special to tell you from this lively donkey. It just means you burned your brain a tad too much, and you’ve hallucinated a donkey sing a Tina Turner song  to you.

Render that little nugget of experience to the mental trash can it probably deserves to be in. If it was so important that God get a message to you that He’d use a donkey  or even more unbelievable, a Tina Turner song, He’d have probably waited until you were sober and there could be no question it was a miracle of God instead a miracle of Dope. We all look for reasons to excuse something we’re doing that we know we are wrong to do, by finding something positive enough to justify it to others, and mainly ourselves. I’ve found that the “I’m spiritually awakened” excuse is pretty common amongst those of us that tend to like to have a little chemical uplifting from time to time, and frankly, it’s a pathetic one.  Here’s life choices in a nutshell — you don’t owe anyone a reason or excuse for what you do or want to do; but by the same token, you’re the one stuck with the consequences, so don’t be surprised when you’re eating a bucket-full of guilt, shame, and general self-loathing. Own your crap, pay your dues, learn from it, and start a blog or something. Most importantly, forgive yourself and move on.  Don’t waste a whole lot of time on coming up with an acceptable reason or excuse that people will buy. Nobody really cares about that but you anyways.

I’ll leave you guys with one more observation that I’m pretty sure everyone can identify with. By a show of hands, how many of us know at least one old hippie-wanna-be who’s burned out his/her brain so much, we roll our eyes when they head down Enlightenment Lane?

Yeah.

Don’t be that person. Find your enlightenment and spirituality with a full set of brain cells working. That way, you’ll be prepared to defend your opinions and views, and not have people rolling their eyes as you walk away, telling their little children to stay away from you because you think you’re Shrek or something.

I’m just saying…

The Tear-Stained Question – Do I Stay or Do I Go?

img-thingEarlier this week, I received some emails from wives whose husbands are addicted to meth. Sadly, they are now in the same place I was 3 1/2 years ago — do I stay or do I go? It’s an unhappy place for any person to find themselves, and the truth is, the answer is as different as the people who comprise each of these relationships. For me, it isn’t really an easy answer to give to a wife’s tear-stained question. I had a ton of people tell me to leave Chef when I first started sharing the horror show I was living in with friends, but it still took ten months, his infidelity, a crazy motorcycle club president, an incident with an ax, physical, verbal, and emotional abuse, and my own struggle with vodka and pills before I found myself ready to leave him. And then, though we were no longer living in the same home, I still struggled for another whole year emotionally letting him go. Each year I start out thinking, “Good! I’m all healed up now!”, but at the end of each one, looking back, I can see even more progress than I started out with. Healing is a process that won’t be rushed; lucky for us, once the wounding is no longer allowed to happen on a regular basis, the healing, though gradual, is effective and recognizable. Time begins to march ahead again, at a more acceptable speed.

One woman, whose email brought back to mind the worst memories from that time, posed a very good question — Is it really the line-in-sandChristian way to walk away from your spouse when they are so clearly sick? What happened to “in sickness and in health”?

That’s a fantastic question, and one I myself struggled with for a long time. The answer simply is, what God has put together, He can divide just as easily. The hard part is finding out where your line is, and knowing when your “love” is actually keeping them sick instead of helping them. I am the first one to admit — I’m an addict’s wet dream when it comes to being their partner. I’m forgiving. I have a crappy memory, so chances are, a lot of big mistakes made are going to be forgotten, and soon. I don’t have a judgmental attitude towards addiction in general or addicts specifically. I’ve dealt with addictions in myself enough, I’m more inclined than the average person to pop a pill than to actively seek out real help with something. In short, I’m an enabler. Looking back, I feel like the Lord knew this about me, and because He is in charge of this life I gave Him, it was within His discretion to remove me from a circumstance I was going to drown in.

I didn’t make it easy for Him. When this all started, I believed that all divorce was unacceptable to God. I didn’t spend much time in the Word looking for real answers. I thought I had break-up-Heartbroken-Missing-You-Broken-Hearted-Letting-Go-Sad-Love-quotes-1748them already. When Chef started using drugs, I begged God to heal him, but didn’t consider for a moment that this was Chef’s choice, not God’s. Chef didn’t ask nor did he want, healing. He felt old. He wanted something that made him young again, and the drugs, in the beginning, did just that. I stuck it out. But then, Chef’s struggle with age led him to having numerous affairs with younger women. Again, I was wrecked by this, but again, I felt like God doesn’t let us walk away from marriages. Then came his disappearing acts for days on end — fear, betrayal, lies, grief, hope deferred. It was all too much for me to handle, and I too, began using stuff to help me cope. Oh the irony and hypocrisy! And I did it all under the banner of “God Hates Divorce”.

Things got so much worse. There was abuse of every kind, and finally, he crossed some invisible line inside of me, and I walked away. Physically, I did, that is, but emotionally, I was still right there in the fight. It took a few months for me to finally realize, I wasn’t fighting against satan and the hordes of hell in a spiritual battle for my husband — I was fighting God. I’m a seasoned warrior in the Kingdom of God. I win a few; I lose a few. But in this particular war, I was losing every single battle, every single time. I remember the day I realized why as clearly as if it were yesterday. I was sitting on my bed in my little ghetto apartment in Tulsa, Oklahoma, weeping yet again, wondering how things had gotten so bad so fast, when it dawned on me. The world shifted, just slightly, and it all made sense. God, charged with my steps, had shuffled me out of a very bad situation; one that I would never have been able to rise above, left on my own. Back then, I simply wasn’t strong enough to withstand what was coming, and since Chef was not a Christian, but I was, He took me out of it. And He did this without asking my thoughts about any of it, and with me kicking and screaming and fighting Him all along the way.

Sad-love-quotesThat’s the thing about giving your life to God. We Christians all throw that term around loosely, but do we ever really stop and ask ourselves if we believe it? I don’t think I had before then. It’s easy to bandy about “being a servant of the Lord” when you feel like you only work for Him at your own good pleasure, or on Sundays, or with the occasional conversation with someone you meet. But the truth of the phrase is so different. It means He decides if you stay in a relationship with an addict, or you don’t. He decides if you get a promotion with lots of money, or you don’t. He is the one who decides your steps, because when you turned your life over to Him, you gave Him that right.

There are people in the world that the Lord instructed to stay put through a storm that a loved one was navigating. Hosea comes to mind, married to an unfaithful prostitute. And then there are those of us He instructs to walk away, despite how horrible it feels to abandon that person we so still love. With me, He warned me beforehand to go, but when I didn’t, He made sure to give me an out each horrendous step of that horrible journey, until I was able to. What He did not do was keep my steps from moving in the direction He had directed them to go in. And once I stopped fighting Him, things got amazingly better.

J, I don’t know which path your steps are being directed in. All I can say is this, if you are a person who has given her life over to sad-quotes-on-love_largethe Lord, you’ll end up exactly where He wants you to be. Love is a very powerful force, and it isn’t horrible, or weak, or silly, or stupid to not be ready to give up on your husband yet. I think, in a way, the length of fight we give these men is a testament to just how much they were good for us once upon a time, and don’t we all hope we are loved that much? But you have an invisible line in the sand somewhere too, and only you will know when you reach it. You will hear others hope you save yourself, and understand, it comes from two things — how much you are cared for, and what they themselves would perceive as it being too much according to their own lines in the sand. That’s okay. We all judge others’ decisions by what we ourselves think we would do. All I can advise is this: every now and then, stop, breathe, and assess what your life is like right at this minute. Are you helping him stay sick, or are you just hoping he will see how much you love him, and start trying to get well? Are you still strong enough to bring him up to your level, or are you weakening so much, he is bringing you down to his? Are you sure that his life can’t be happy without you in it? Are you sure yours can’t be happy without him in it?

tumblr_m1aztaJohc1r6akd3o1_500Even if the answers suck, you still might not be ready to walk away. All I can say is I promise, we all have our limitations. And if the Lord is involved with the divide, you’ll lose. Maybe, like me, He wanted something better for you. Or maybe, like Hosea, your love story will inspire generations. Either way, you’ll know it before anyone else will.

I am praying for you, and for the other two women who wrote me this week. You are not alone, by any stretch of the imagination.

~ Bird