By Gerald G. May

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So I find myself resisting settling down to pray, or I fill my meditation time with images or music or words—anything that will keep me from simply being present and awake before God. In major chemical addictions, times that once had this quality of open relaxed presence now often become occasions for using the addictive drug. In a sinister but perfect irony, the drug becomes its own camouflage; its effects cloud and alter awareness sufficiently to prevent realization of the person’s addiction to it.

It may take many such defeats before one realizes how truly out of control one is. Loss of willpower is especially important for defining the difference between the slavery of true addiction and the freedom of sincerely caring about something or of choosing to satisfy simple desires. If you find yourself saying, “I can handle it,” “I can stop it,” or “I can do without it,” try to perform a very simple test: simply go ahead and stop it. Do without it. If you are successful, there is no addiction.

Have I ever found myself thinking “I can take it or leave it” or “I can handle it” in relation to possessions, power, or relationships? Fourth, questions about loss of willpower: —Have I ever made any resolutions to ease the importance I give to possessions, power, or relationships? —Have I felt success or failure, pride or defeat with these resolutions, and what were the consequences of those feelings? —Have I resolved, for example, to contribute more to charity or to be more giving than receiving or to avoid certain kinds of relationships, only to find myself behaving in the same old ways?

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