Follow Your Bliss

By: Ashley Dane

Follow Your Bliss is the blog of Ashley Webb Dane, a mother of two teenagers who has been in recovery for five years. She is committed to carrying the message of the spiritual aspect of recovery and the empowerment of women in recovery. She is a certified hypnotherapist, and is currently Director of Communications at ONE80CENTER, a drug and alcohol treatment facility in Beverly Hills.

The Garden of Earthly Delights – Breaking Free from Hell

Jul 19, 2012

We who have been trapped in the sheer hell of addiction know unequivocally that we were slaves to our appetites. We might not have known it at the time, because our master was clever. It’s like the saying: “The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world that he doesn’t exist.” It’s hard to see the Devil when you are in hell, and the Devil seems like the only thing that will give you relief. That, in itself, makes the Devil your Savior, and now the truly twisted, Hieronymus Bosch—like reality of a person’s private torment comes to light.

How terrifying to consider leaving one’s so-called Savior. One believes that is the only source of relief, when it is, very simply, the source of all hell—like Bosch’s hellscape in the painting “The Garden of Earthly Delights.” It is a depiction of hell, terrifying and awful. Temptations take us there. Addiction leaves us there, in that not-so-delightful garden.

This Devil (which, for the purpose of this blog, is our disease, our addiction) is also a shape-shifting bastard. Not only can he convince the afflicted that he doesn’t exist, he can change to suit a person’s temperament. A person’s weakness is the Devil’s camouflage. Spiritually speaking, this is the most profound battle of all. It is why it is said that desperation is the greatest gift one can enter into recovery with. Anything short of that is still very susceptible to dark motives.

A lot happens in the shadows where you can’t really see it happening. Recovery is all about light. We don’t always want to see what’s lurking in the dark corners, but it’s imperative that we do in order to overcome what’s there.

I have friends who are still using. I can think of three now who, I suspect, are using in private, and putting up a great front in public. They are still very functioning; they either own or run businesses, and are regarded as successful individuals in their community. However, there is something going on that is preventing them from fully inhabiting their own skin. Some part of them isn’t there.

I remember, when I was in this same situation, a part of me was always not there—it was busy thinking about the time when I could check out, later, when I was alone. I’d have my wine, my downers and I’d numb out after work and still get up the next day and go to work, running a fashion company. Until the time came that I numbed out at work, too. No one really knew. I was unhappy, I was lonely, I was bereft, I felt like a leftover, unwanted in the fridge. I could say: I own my car, I own my home, I run a company, but what does that really mean when you are a slave? When part of you is always listening for your master’s voice, like the little dog sitting in front of the speaker, head cocked to one side? You can’t really pay attention to the life you try so hard to hide behind.

To me, it’s very dangerous how cunning the disease is. Not the obvious dangers of the substances and how many lives are lost to them—these are clear to everyone, and never stop an addict from using. It’s frightening how it can tell you that it’s only Xanax and wine; no big deal. It’s not like you are shooting up in an alley or anything. Or it says, “It’s just pot, and you need it. It’s the one little thing you need to quell the anxiety. It’s the only thing that works.” Why would anyone fight that? It’s comfortable enough. And it’s just enough to keep you asleep, sleepwalking through life, enslaved in velvet manacles.

People who know they are doing dangerous drugs in dangerous amounts already know they are gambling with their lives. The ones who think they are managing it are in denial, and that can kill them. Just ask several of my friends—but you’d have to do it by Ouija board now. Wine and pills can and do kill. Life will never be what it could be, which isn’t death, just sleepwalking—not really living. Not really.

I think the people who truly run the last wheel off are lucky. They know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that they must stop using. They come to understand that the Devil is not the Savior they thought he was. The comfort that the Devil offers is the source of all their suffering. They understand that the hell they are in is created by the Master of their appetites. A life where appetites do not dictate one’s every move is required. A life of recovery. All else, for us, is death.

I love to look around at the recovery community, whether at the ONE80CENTER July 4 party (more than 1,000 sober people) or at the big Sunday meeting in L.A. last night, and know that I am surrounded by people who are FREE. Free people, who have liberated themselves from the slave master of addiction.

It’s a powerful thing, and it always, always touches my soul. I am honored to be a part of it.

Image: "The Garden of Earthly Delights" by Hieronymus Bosch.


vanessa  2788 days ago

Interesting & inspiring! Has anyone ever heard of "Perse or Bio-Nar" ? Thank you, Vanessa

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