The Chinese philosopher, Lao Tzu, has said that “the journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step.” For those of us sufferers of addiction, the first step in the Journey to Sobriety may seem more like “a giant leap for mankind.” Few of us are able to take that step without great difficulty and without many, many mis-steps. The step to commit ourselves to the pursuit of a sober life can actually be the most difficult one in our lives.
In the concept of the Hero’s Journey, as it is known in literary and psychical circles, the first step results from a very poignant internal “call to adventure.” It is the call to pursue a journey to gain some desperately needed boon for one’s self, for one’s family or for one’s community. For the addictive personality, mired in the terror of mindless consumptive or behavioral activity, this call is a deep internal cry for help. When that cry finally hits us as unavoidable and impossible to ignore, we finally begin the journey…we enter the “rooms.”
We may have begun this before, perhaps many times. In the Hero’s Journey, there is a phase called “refusing the call,” where intense fear of the journey causes hesitation and procrastination. For we sufferers of the diseases of addiction, the required admission of powerlessness to begin the journey can be elusive. Each time, the ability to reject the notion that the substance or behavior pattern that consumes us is too “valuable” to relinquish, looms as impossible. Each prior time we couldn’t make that leap. But then something hits us, that internal call to “adventure,” the call to pursue the life we see more clearly as absolutely necessary, strikes deep in our soul…and we begin. We embrace all the women and men who are standing by to help. We open our ears and we finally begin to listen. It still hurts, it still pains us to live each moment, each day without the drug…but we do, because we must, because to not do so is, eventually, to die.
…and, by doing so, by beginning, by surrendering, by just listening, we slowly but surely start to grow….
The journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step. – Lao Tzu