I remember being about 12 years-old when I started really thinking about death. I suppose that is when I started analyzing the world around me, perhaps to an unhealthy degree. It’s also when I first started experimenting with drugs and alcohol. I smoked my first cigarette that year. I think I was looking for anything to quiet my brain. I remember lying in bed at night, trying to fall asleep, trying to quiet my alien brain that seemed resolved to churn thousands upon thousands of thoughts a minute. My brain has never been a real good listener. It doesn’t seem to understand time—or really give a damn about it, anyway. It does anything it can to avoid sleep. My mind, for all intents and purposes, has a mind of its own. At night my brain went down path after path, tangent after tangent, running towards some kind of conclusion but never quite reaching one.
I don’t remember why I started thinking about death so intensely; it could be that there wasn’t a single reason. Perhaps it is part of beginning the process to adulthood, where the “big” questions and life lessons really start to set in. I was never able to cope with these “big questions,” so I shoved them down with drugs and an eating disorder. I hated that there were no answers out there, and it made me so uncomfortable in my own skin. I wanted to physically remove myself from my body and pull my skin off of my skeleton, exposing my soul as a means to escape. Since this was not an option, I chose to chemically alter my brain so as not to feel my own body. Then I would not need an answer.
The discomfort of not knowing led me to a couple conclusions which made me feel even worse. The only afterlife that seemed reasonable to “young me” was that one simply stops existing—which scared the crap out of me. My mind would try to comprehend ceasing to exist. I could get as far as not having a body but no consciousness? I would think about my consciousness floating about in space, unattached to anything and completely out of this world. And then I would feel incredibly lonely. At that point I would try to comprehend eternity. The picture I would create in my mind’s eye of my consciousness floating about for eternity was terrifying. I think I preferred the idea that we would almost “un-exist” upon death. Even the thought of being in heaven for eternity scared me; it was the eternity part I couldn’t handle.
Death has been around me quite a bit these past two years. I have lost people I loved deeply and had to cope this past year in recovery without using any drugs or alcohol. I wonder where they have gone now that they are no longer here with me. I am still around, walking the earth, and often think about how I miss them deeply. Coping healthily through this past year—as difficult as it has been at times—has helped me stay present with those around me and continue growing genuine relationships, achieved in part by staying emotionally available.
My brain still gets twisted in analyzing and questioning, though I now share my questions with those around me and allow myself to be open and honest. Sobrietyhas taught me all of this and I have found more peace within sobriety. The monster of rapid fire questions still lives under my bed; however, as long as I can stay sober and open, I can distract myself from his menacing presence. I am now able to ignore him most of the time.
Filed under: Spirituality, Treatment · Tags: Addiction, adulthood, alcohol, Alcohol and Drugs, body, cigarettes, death, eating disorder, emotional, eternity, heaven, peace, Self-esteem, sleep, sobriety