New Here?
     
Addiction


I Am Only as Happy as My Childhood Allows Me to Be

The 21st century has been a time of revelation. The buried reality of abuse is now being unearthed in our culture and through our laws. Child abuse by the Boy Scouts or any number of church organizations is increasingly acknowledged as the hideous outrage it is. #MeToo has exploded the wall of acceptance of disgusting […]

We Were Made for Addiction

There is an episode in season 3 of Sex and the City called “Are We Sluts?” and, as you can imagine, the premise involves Carrie sitting at her laptop contemplating whether she and her friends are too promiscuous. Away from the computer, Carrie wonders why her new love interest, Aidan, hasn’t yet initiated sex; Miranda […]

Leslie Jamison on Self-Forgiveness and Shame

The most recent edition of Image features a lovely interview with Leslie Jamison. We can’t stop writing about her, especially after her extraordinary talk at our conference this year in New York. In the interview, she discusses a number of other concerns—the fear that our feelings are clichés, that privilege and difference inhibit resonance with […]

Reserved Seating in Addiction Circles For The Likes of You And Me: Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot

This one comes to us from Sam Guthrie. In 2018, Gus Van Sant (director of Good Will Hunting) added to his excellent directorial résumé with Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far On Foot. An under-the-radar biopic of late sketch artist John Callahan, the film examines his road to recovery as an alcoholic after a car […]

I Deleted My Social Media and Didn’t Tell Anyone (Except You)

I deleted all of my social media accounts a month ago and I didn’t tell anyone.  Well, two qualifications. First, I deleted LinkedIn (honestly, I don’t remember ever signing up for LinkedIn) and Twitter, but I only deactivated Facebook and Instagram because the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak and I haven’t downloaded […]

None Without Faith (or a Strong Belief in the Reality of Evil)

The following comes from Chris Arnade’s book of photography “Dignity: Seeking Respect in Back Row America,” pages 110-111, chapter 3: God Filled My Emptiness. Everyone I met [in the South Bronx] who was living homeless or battling an addiction held a deep faith. Street walking is stunningly dangerous work, and everyone has stories of being […]

The Only Places on the Streets That Understand

Way back on Christmas Eve of 2013, The Guardian ran a piece by photographer Chris Arnade under the provocative title, “The People Who Challenged My Atheism Most Were Drug Addicts and Prostitutes.” It remains one of the best and most heartening things I’ve read on that intersection. Arnade recounts how thoroughly his unbelief was challenged […]

Sobriety as More Than Deprivation

Incredibly pleased to announce that the final addition to the speaker line-up at our upcoming NYC Conference (4/25-27)–our ‘mystery guest’–is none other than Leslie Jamison, author of The Empathy Exams and The Recovering: Intoxication and Its Aftermath. Needless to say, her work has served as a mighty source of inspiration these past few years, and it is a rare privilege to host her. She’ll be joining us on Saturday morning, April 27th, and to celebrate, here’s a favorite passage from The Recovering, a book which details, among (many) other things, her relationship with addiction:

Leslie Jamison by Beowulf Sheehan

For a long time, I’d believed that sincerity was all about actions lining up with belief: knowing myself and acting accordingly. But when it came to drinking, I’d parsed my motivations in a thousand sincere conversations–with friends, with therapists, with my mother, with my boyfriends–and all my self-understanding hadn’t granted me any release from compulsion…

I didn’t know what I believed, and prayed anyway. I called my sponsor even when I didn’t want to, showed up to meetings even when I didn’t want to. I sat in the circle and held hands with everyone, opened myself up to cliches I felt ashamed to be described by, got down on my knees to pray even though I wasn’t sure what I was praying to, only what I was praying for: don’t drink, don’t drink, don’t drink. The desire to believe that there was something out there, something that wasn’t me, that could make not-drinking seem like anything other than punishment–this desire was strong enough to dissolve the rigid border I’d drawn between faith and its absence. When I looked back on my early days in church, I started to realize how silly it had been to think that I’d had a monopoly on doubt, or that wanting faith was so categorically different from having it.

When people in the program talked about a Higher Power, they sometimes simply said “H.P.,” which seemed expansive and open, a pair of letters you could fill with whatever you needed: the sky, other people in meetings, an old woman who wore loose flowing skirts like my grandmother had worn. Whatever it was, I needed to believe in something stronger than my willpower. This willpower was a fine-tuned machine, fierce and humming, and it had done plenty of things–gotten me straight A’s, gotten my papers written, gotten me through cross-country training runs–but when I’d applied it to drinking, the only thing I felt was that I was turning my life into a small, joyless clenched fist. The Higher Power that turned sobriety into more than deprivation was simply not me. That was all I knew. It was a force animating the world in all of its particular glories: jellyfish, the clean turn of line breaks, pineapple upside-down cake, my friend Rachel’s laughter. Perhaps I’d been looking for it–for whatever it was–for years, bent over the toilet on all those other nights, retching and heaving. (pgs 303-4)

Click here to pre-register for our NYC Conference!

The Difficulty of Drawing Near the Suffering

This comes to us from Father Kenneth Tanner.  When I first came to the parish I serve, there were about twenty persons over the age of seventy. We have since buried a few, some have retired to Florida or warmer states, but until recently about half were still active participants in our worship and community. […]

My Lifestyle Brand Isn’t Pretty, But It’s Amazing

“Reality is an ally of God.” — Richard Rohr When I was in dental school, I spent most afternoons with the rest of my class in the lab, where we’d toil over fake teeth for three hours. It was just as fun as it sounds, which led to filling the time with wandering conversations over […]

On Praying in the Bathroom, and Giving Up on Self-Control

Leslie Jamison’s book The Recovering: Intoxication and Its Aftermath uses a broad scope of material to construct the experience of addiction and attempts at recovery: through personal memoir, research into historical figures, and reflection on the methods and theories associated with treating substance abuse. There are many, many reasons to read this book, and none […]

Turn with Me to The Book of Ryan

This one was written by Blake Nail. The people of the Bible are often described as heroes. We see this in secular culture, where the characters of the “good” book are often mocked for “goody good” morals and ideals, which they supposedly manifest. We see this even in our churches. (At least from my limited experience […]