Addiction and the Red Road

I come from the kind who say sobriety is for quitters.

Technically yeah, it is.

But when one is raised to be strong, to be a go getter, to never quit, there is a pretty simple mechanism in the brain that hates me for wanting to quit drinking. I like to call her Ego.

There is healthy ego, the kind that gets me out of bed, gets me dressed, looking presentable, smelling alright, feeling alright. This ego helps me set boundaries, decide what I want, what I’m capable of, where I’m headed, what my actions are.

Then there’s the MegaEgo, and this guy is a dick. MegaEgo likes looking fine, wants to be rich and famous and powerful, doesn’t understand why people can’t drive, why there is always miscommunication at work, why people can’t hold their liquor, why me or why not me? MegaEgo is an egocentric asshole.

It’s kind of like Bumblebee vs. Megatron.

One ego is helpful, healthy, and open minded. The other is aggressive, forceful, and very opinionated about everything.

Being aware of both doesn’t necessarily mean I am in control of either, but I am coming to understand when and how these two work.

One fine example comes from a conversation I had with my mother about the Red Road.

I had been having vivid dreams of following this red road, just a very narrow path through darkness with a steep, steep cliff on both sides that fell away into a black void and a light up ahead that illuminated not but the red road. I had a sensation that it was music lighting the road and clarity and that on either side was confusion and loss. The Black road.

Firstly, Native Americans come from different tribes and different practices and beliefs. The Red Road is a modern “language” concept that has been adopted by new age and hippie spiritualists such as myself who are often accused of cultural appropriation (check out Wikipedia). It’s a Lakota tradition, as is sweat, which I have done despite being from Cherokee and Pawnee backgrounds.

I mean no disrespect and I am no authority on the subject AT All. Native politics, especially regarding cultural appropriation, are politics I have not been entrenched in and are complex. I highly recommend researching the traditions for yourself if interested.

That being said, if I’m having visceral dreams of being on a red road…well I’m not going to ignore it.

I knew the red road meant sobriety in Native Traditions. A Cherokee Chief in Oklahoma told me after stomp dance that I needed to take care of myself, that taking care of myself would lead me to my medicine and my magic.

It would be a couple years still before I dreamt of the red road and a couple years after that the black road would claim my friend.

Booze and I were tantalizing dance partners for long enough. Now it’s taken my friend and we have a beef.

When DJ and I first moved, the depression was a surprise. It had been a while since it hit that hard and I had forgotten that depression makes me do stupid things. I spend money impulsively, drink to numb out.

There’s a difference between having a drink at the end of the day or with dinner vs drinking to ignore the shit I don’t want to face.

With cyclothymia, I can have a drink with dinner and be perfectly good to go for a month or three, and then a pattern starts to form, my life starts to look a little bit darker despite nothing having changed

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