I Choose This Life


At times it can be maddening at how many things can
go wrong when you are sober. I remember when I newly
became sober, I thought all of my problems had been
solved simply because I had “made it”. Little did I know
at the time that just because I had achieved sobriety,
I didn’t know how hard at times it would be to maintain
it. Addiction can be so consuming that when we
are not actively participating in our recovery and grave
tribulations in a life happen, take for instance being
diagnosed with cancer, maintaining that sobriety can
become challenging. I would know, because for me it
started just like that.

Four and half months ago I was diagnosed with a intermediately
aggressive form of B-Cell Non-Hodgkin’s
Lymphoma. The news came to me after months of confusing
symptoms that I mistook for depression. I was
constantly fatigued, I was losing my appetite, I had
this random fever that would come on and pass just
as quickly; all at the time chalked up to depression.
Co-currently my father had been put into the hospital
gravely ill, three of my closest friends had all turned
back to drugs and alcohol, one of them being my lover,
I had lost two art commissions which I depended on
as income, and I was running out of money. As life is
concerned, these occurrences all simultaneously occurring
at the same time with an almost unfathomable
precision less expressed though a Jungian bout of Synchronicity
was more than enough reason to become
melancholy and warrant such symptoms. Just as I was
just becoming acclimated to a routine life of sobriety
everything started falling apart. But this was not the
typical happening of a bad day, this was much more indeed
just enough reasons to push me into relapse, and
for me a relapse takes my life. This all before the cancer

Doctor visit after doctor visit, I presented with the same
symptoms, and after each blood test, my blood cell
counts in each parameter were extremely out of whack.

The Doctor thought that I had an infection somewhere
and so started me on antibiotics, and finally after each
round failing to drop or right my counts or subside any
of my symptoms, I became frustrated with the doctor.
I knew something was happening in my body. I knew
for sure that something was not right inside of me as
sure as I knew my own name. Finally after all that time
with no answers I was sent with four months of lab test
results and CT scan radiology reports to an oncologist/
hematologists office for some answers, hopefully. Four
days after seeing that doctor I had a diagnosis.

At the moment that I received the news, why I did not
walk myself right into a bar I do not know. I could not
tell you why. Even in my own opinion, written in my
own book, of my own morals and account, I don’t know
if I would have even blamed another person with the
same events happening to them if they decided to go
back and start drinking or more to cope with such a
hardship. I mean, you are on your way out anyways,
why not do it with the least amount of pain? With the
least amount of consciousness to is happening? There
within that question prefaced to myself I found the answer
to why I did not choose then to drink and use.

When you have seemingly lost everything and the universe
presents you at some form of the great abyss, the
only thing left you have is your dignity. The only thing
that life could not change for me at the time or effect
was my ability to make the right decision. The only
control I had over what was happening to me was my
ability to choose how I was going to deal with it and I
chose then to hang on to what little I did have, even
if at that time it was only a handful of things. A handful
of things mind you that in my opinion prior to that
moment were not worth fighting for a life, let alone my
own. But at that time, what was always there, had suddenly
become more my own and valuable than I had
ever been able to understand.

I am currently receiving chemotherapy treatments. I am
constantly in feelings of pain and discomfort and I live
with a constant fear of becoming ill with the cold or flu
because right now it could kill me. I do not have a lot.
I keep people at a fair distance because right now it is
too much to bare. I have a wonderful job that I try my
very best at every day and am blessed that it keeps my
mind thinking when I am by myself. All of this, my life,
the good and the bad, the cancer, the loss; although it
hurts, it is my own and when I was using drugs and alcohol,
the addiction was my life. Addicted, I was a body
and soul that hurt more than any pain I could ever experience
today. If I were to choose escapism through
addiction or this life that I have currently, I choose this
life. I choose so be sober and feel the hurt. I choose to
feel the pain of my life. In the bleak desperation of it all
I smile because I am alive because still I live a life where
my addiction today remains in remission.