I staggered through my house that morning, knowing I was out of coffee. I took multiple trips around the house looking for my shoes, finally settled for outrageously large climbing boots, then took multiple trips looking for my keys. I finally jumped on my motorcycle—adrenaline is a good substitute for endorphins when you get older—and broke many laws getting to the local caffeine clinic. Upon arriving I had the sinking realization that my man-purse was not in my backpack.
At this point all my training as a contemplative was out the window.
"It seems to me,” William S. Burroughs Jr. once wrote, that “if you put something pleasant in front of someone, they’re going to take it.” But not everyone succumbs to the temptation. Why do some fall prey to addiction while others do not?
Gwen opens the circle session at nine a.m. on a Monday morning with a reading from Alcoholics Anonymous’ Blue Book. The theme is powerlessness, and Gwen reads in a halting voice. Her audience is a group of women who’ve come to work here in an old parsonage just up the hill from a well-heeled Episcopal church.
A certain casualness often overtakes modern conversation about addiction. Here in Oprah nation we’re proud of our semantic acumen, batting around words like withdrawal and detox and always at the ready with “Hi, my name is Bill” jokes.