The creamy tri-flavored delights—chocolate, strawberry and vanilla—nestle between a banana cut in half, like three peas in a pod. Sugary syrup loaded with walnuts cascades over the frozen mounds. Clouds of whipped cream adorn the concoction. And the crowning touch—a maraschino cherry.
How about this? You go to a movie theatre and open the lobby door. Your sense of smell explodes into overload as the aroma of fresh-popped popcorn assaults your nose. Before going to the movie, you promised yourself, “I will be strong. I will not buy popcorn and drown it in melted butter.”
Let’s try one more. The sun beats hot as you cut row after row of grass. Sweat runs in streams from your hair and onto your face. Perspiration soaks your shirt. Finally finished with the yard work, you trudge into the house, flop down on the couch and turn on the television. The first commercial that comes on shows a glass filled with ice cubes. Slowly the actress pours a soda into the glass. It trickles over the ice in slow motion until the glass is full. Lifting it to her lips she takes a long drink. Satisfied, she looks into the camera and licks a solitary drop of soda off her lip.
Each scenario creates a hunger or thirst for something we don’t have. We look at the dessert and think, “Wow! That looks so good, I think I’ll get me a banana split.” The fact that we’ve been dieting for two months is pushed aside dreaming about the tempting culinary delight. The lure of ice cream, whipped cream and nuts is too tantalizing to turn down.
Our approach to recovery should be as enticing as banana splits, popcorn and icy cold soda on a hot day. Whether we are the addict working the Twelve Steps or the family member supporting a loved one, others who are searching for a new life apart from addiction can look at what we have and say, “I want that.”
We do that by “making ‘em thirsty” for a life free of addiction. We show those around us that working the steps isn’t for sissies; it’s tough work that is well worth the effort. In his book, Getting Your Loved One Sober: Alternatives to Nagging, Pleading and Threatening, Dr. Robert Meyers addresses ways in which families can change their lives. He shows how setting boundaries with the addict allows natural consequences to fall into place, hopefully causing a change in behavior.
Dr. Meyers’ approach is basically positive reinforcement. He encourages the addict’s family to make personal lifestyle changes, even if their addict chooses not to quit their controlling behavior. Meyers encourages the family members to strengthen themselves emotionally, mentally and spiritually, making the prospect of recovery attractive to their addicted loved one.
You may be the only tangible example of what recovery is all about. Live your life each day so that it creates a thirst and hunger in those around you.
Banana split, anyone?