Benjamin Lerner is a recovering addict , composer , writer , musician , and radio host . He has been sober and clean since June 13th , 2016 . In his weekly column , CLEAN , he shares his personal journey - and lessons he has learned from his life in recovery . Benjamin lives in East Arlington , Vermont .
MIND & BODY
The robust aroma of vanilla extract hung in the air as I whisked a thick concoction of sugar , cream , eggs , flour , and spices in a large mixing bowl . I turned down the festive holiday music that was playing out of a nearby speaker , closed my eyes , and made an effort to block out every noticeable distraction . I was four years sober , and I was attempting to make a complex holiday dessert for the first time without any help . I had absolutely no baking experience , and my lack of training had landed me in a tragically-humorous predicament .
After calming my nerves and opening my eyes , I looked down at a crumpled piece of paper at the edge of the table . I was searching for an obvious indication of what to do next , but I was unable to clearly focus . Although I had attempted to power through the baking process with a printed recipe from a popular cooking website , it had proven to be an insufficient source of guidance . My mind was clouded with a haze of insecurity that was even thicker than the clods of wet flour on my fingertips . I had lost my place in the order of instructions , and I was charting a surefire course towards confectionery disaster .
As I looked down at the viscous and inconsistent mixture below me , I thought back on all of the times that I had foolishly attempted to take matters into my own hands during my active addiction . In those days , I would often become overpowered by feverish impulses , which would cause me to embark on dangerous escapades without any proper planning . I sought out hedonistic oblivion regardless of the consequences , and my poorly-conceived strategies would often result in terrifying consequences . It had been almost half a decade since I had last ingested a mind-altering substance , but an identical pattern of irresponsible and stubborn conduct had nevertheless emerged in long-term recovery . I had taken on an ill-fated challenge that was proving to be entirely impractical , but I remained stubbornly determined to finish the task .
Suddenly , my dark and somber reflections were cut short by a frightening crash . I looked down at the table and was greeted by a disappointing sight : I had unintentionally smashed the handle of the whisk into the side of my thin glass mixing bowl . A large chunk of glass had broken off into splinters , which were now scattered inside of the cake mix . My kitchen was a mess , my haphazardly-made cake was now completely inedible , and my plans had completely fallen through . I banged my fists down on the table in frustration , tossed my apron to the side , and collapsed into a nearby chair . I was saddled with a feeling of dire distress , which conjured memories of the days when my ruinous schemes were unsuccessful in active addiction . I was broken down and despondent , and I didn ’ t know what to do .
At the height of my emotional crisis , I experienced a blinding epiphany : By applying the same principles of resourceful humility that had allowed me to move past my addiction and start a new life in recovery , I could salvage the cake while preserving my serenity . First , I reached down into the depths of my subconscious , and I found the courage to accept the things that were beyond my control . After that , I reached into my refrigerator to grab a box of easy-to-bake cake mix . Much like my lifesaving program of recovery , it was a simple solution that had been right in front of me the whole time . I just had to be willing to learn from my mistakes and take the first steps towards simpler , more sustainable choices .
Always remember :
Keep moving forward . Run towards the truth . Don ’ t quit before the miracle happens .
Visit aa-intergroup . org / directory . php for a comprehensive list of online and phone-based AA meetings .
For local meetings visit tpcbennington . org or call 802-442-9700 .
December 5 , 2022 Vermont News Guide 17