There are days when I feel like Nintendo’s Mario. I am forever creeping around the edges of cliffs, dodging monsters, falling, falling, falling off of mountains and ledges and buildings and planets. Swimming, drowning, surfacing, drowning again. It is thrilling. It is terrifying. It is all in my head.
The phrase “all in your head” implies that there is an escape from this reality. Not in my experience. As far as I know, what exists in my mind IS my life. It is the lens through which I view, interpret and understand everything that my senses perceive. It gives me the thoughts, the impulses, that lead to decisions, actions, life choices: The choices I am proud of, the ones that make me shudder and sob.
“All in your head” suggests that I can transport myself from this life ruled by emotion and ego into some other more blissful place of unfiltered, pure experience. In my darkest moments I fear that the minute I was born I left that idyllic place. I will return there when I die. In the meantime, I am like Mario. Or a character in a Beckett play, determined to escape, but remaining motionless and trapped. In my head.
The sense of being locked and lost in a dark world of one’s own making is what compels me to drink. If I cannot change my essential life view, the vision that drives me, and if that view is bleak, then addiction offers me a tempting if temporary escape. I become willing, desperate even, to bargain with the devils at the liquor store.
Recovery offers an alternative to self-imprisonment. It is a hand that leads me, a voice that says to me, the addict, come this way, it’s easier, better.This is the way out of your head.
I am fairly new to recovery so I cannot fully describe it but I think I am beginning to know a few things. The first involves turning my gaze outward, taking in the world, using my senses without judging. Secondly recovery teaches that I must turn my energy toward others and let it be of use. With each small step, a tiny portion of darkness is erased, the fearful chorus of inner voices is silenced just a little. Ever so slowly I move into the clarity, into the light.