Everyone is there, the architect, the contractor, the investors, the CEO and all the others who had a hand in the completion of this pristine building. There is a ribbon cutting ceremony followed by some speeches and a photo opp. After the event had past the rank and file of workers go into their new work home to fight for the corner office and settle in to their new digs. Within a short period of time the building is generating income for everyone concerned and the whole project is deemed a success. At some time shortly thereafter someone frames that ribbon cutting picture and mounts it on the wall for posterity to see. What a proud moment in time it is.
Years later after all those attendees have long gone their separate ways and the ownership had changed hands numerous times this building that was once pristine has fallen on hard times and into a state of disrepair. All that’s left of that bygone era is the photo on the wall with those smiling faces and out dated attire. Long before the onset of the building becoming dilapidated someone made a decision to not replace one broken window. The downward trajectory of this edifice started with one broken window.
Now the building is an abandoned shell of itself. The Copper wires have been ripped out of the walls, unreadable graffiti is on every inch of wall and this space is now both an eyesore and a health hazard. With squatters inside it has become a crack house and permanent residence for the disenfranchised, homeless and addicted local population. One window pane at a time.
This story about concrete and steel is sad but true. You can go into any inner city and see it. Still standing but looking more like a burned out building in Berlin at the conclusion of WW2 in 1945 than a building in modern day America. But yet it stands.
People like buildings have a shelf life. Buildings that are well maintained can last more than 100 years and so can people. People like build that are not cared for die a pre-mature death. It’s a simple equation, sad but true.
This past Wednesday a recovery brother got convicted in Federal court on two counts connected to child pornography. The state got it right! The sadness and anger I feel is that for six years he was connected to recovery, both in Sex Addicts Anonymous (S.A.A.) and Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous (S.L.A.A.). He was much loved for his honesty and journey but somewhere in translation he forgot to fix a window pane. He had twenty people who would have gladly thrown him a life preserver if only he had asked. We would have helped him fix the window[s]. I understand the power of the “phenomenon of craving” and that he could not “after time differentiate the true from the false” [Alcoholics Anonymous Basic Text, Doctor’s Opinion page xxviii]. His narrative was that he was alone, the truth was that he was not. Some of us even showed up at his trial.
Sentencing is in June but his life sentence has already begun. Being in his 60’s this is tantamount to a real life sentence. How did we get here? That’s an interesting question for sure. This addiction, this dis/ease is cunning, powerful, baffling and patient. Addiction is the only dis/ease that tells you that you don’t have a dis/ease. The Alcoholics Anonymous Basic Text tells us [on page 85] that “What we really have is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition” and what I know about this man is that he never could get the “God of your understanding” piece of this very simple program and over time he placed other things in front of his recovery.
I told him many times before and I still believe that misery is optional. This is a treatable dis/ease but you cannot rest on your laurels. The battle has to be fought every day. If you’re on the road to becoming spiritually bankrupt and dilapidated there is still time.
You don’t have to do this alone.
The opposite of addiction is not sobriety, the opposite of addiction is connection.