I can’t think of anything that frustrates me more than staring at the screen of an electronic device while the little wheel turns. I’ve just clicked an app or tried to open a program, or attempting to watch Netflix and all that happens is a wheel turning, letting me know that the program is buffering. I recall, when I worked as an executive, the IT Department’s exasperated sigh when they would pick up a call from my office. If I had to sit and stare at that little wheel turning for more than five seconds, I would be dialing the emergency help-line extension. Make it go!! Inevitably, whether it be technical assistance at my workplace, internet company, or Apple, the response was always the same: there is a temporary lack of connection.
The concept of buffering came to my mind recently during my sobriety work, looking at both my experience and others’. After tackling the question of how did I become a drug addict, I was left with a feeling of what now? You see, there was revolutionary power in realizing what I was missing all my life that drugs were fulfilling for me, but now where do I begin in regards to rebuilding my life? There was a clarity beyond belief that gave me a level of self-awareness that broke the chains Meth had on my life. But, now what? I was buffering.
There is an unique experience that only an addict can know once they’ve been clean a certain amount of time and have made the decision to quit forever. Once I finally severed the ties with Meth, it was time to start from scratch– but how? I had lost my social circle and was in the beginning stages of rebuilding trust with family, sponsors, counselors, and some fellow recovery folk. I was getting on my feet financially but not stable enough to feel comfortable, and just started a new job where I was constantly wondering if my new coworkers had googled me to see my mug shots. This state of being feels isolating, scary, and riddled with pressure. Its as if I was suspended in time, or what I call buffering.
When you are buffering, you aren’t moving forward but you aren’t moving backward. Everything is brand new–the programming you were used to is being rewritten. And while that coding in your brain is being constructed, there is a temporary lack of connection between you and yourself. Who am I? How am I going to show up in the world? What is life going to be like? What do I even do? This is a very vulnerable time for some recovering addicts. It was for me. I remained in flux and was being presented choices by the Universe that would either lead me to relapse or strengthen my will to be sober. The choices made during this time were extremely crucial to my success.
Thank God my lack of connection was only temporary. Through my best friend, family, treatment team, AA and NA folks, and a new circle of like-minded people focused on my best interest, I found a strong connection that allowed my brain to reprogram. My perception evolved, then thought-patterns, then actions. My life has changed and I am a brand new man. I don’t see that little wheel turning in front of my face anymore. I only see my life being built and I am writing the code.