Sunday, February 10, 2008
Oh Daniel Baldwin.
Oh Daniel Baldwin.
I watch dumb TV. If despite posts like “Yanni and five other things I wish you didn’t know about me,” you still think I’m cool you might want to stop reading. This post is going to make you realize that in my free time I’m not just reading leather bound books and thinking deep thoughts. But I digress.
I recently watched a reality show about celebrities that are in rehab. One of the celebrities is Daniel Baldwin, the fourth most well known of the four Baldwin brothers. He struggles with alcohol and cocaine. While in the rehab facility he hung out with another resident, a former adult actress. On the episode I saw, he abruptly decides that rehab is not for him and leaves. That night, the actress confesses to another resident that Baldwin had been texting her dirty messages and asking for photos, something his pregnant wife would most definitely not appreciate.
When the other residents found out, they were all shocked and deeply disturbed. “He seemed so nice and he was just lying,” they yelled in the group session. “How could he do something like this?”
It’s a fair question and the answer is simple:
Temptation never travels alone.
I wish it did. More than almost anything in my life I wish that when I met counselor 3 he didn’t say to me, “I would say you have four main temptations you struggle with.” Please know that I am not being sensational or cool or hip or extreme when I say that no one ever has just one thing they struggle with.
Temptation is less like a single point on the map of your life and more like the infinity loop or figure eight if you prefer. (I posted one above.) When you face a temptation and move past the challenge, you don’t necessarily leave all temptation behind, you sometimes just move to another one, traveling slowly up or down the figure eight.
So when Daniel Baldwin entered rehab, even though he had 9 months of sobriety under his belt, he wasn’t done with temptation. He simply moved along the never ending loop and in his path he found a vulnerable former adult actress. And all that temptation he faced in the form of drugs just met him there, in the form of sex and it was bigger and stronger than he could handle.
That has happened to me a million times. One of the things I struggle with is workaholism. I tend to obsess over projects, getting an endorphin high from the success, getting crushed at the failure. When I stand up to that temptation, I feel good for a short period but then quickly go into my struggle with worry. Like a damn that has had one hole patched, all my energy, all my temptation, every thought I have quickly rushes to the weakest point. And there, at another stop along the way on my figure eight, I feel like drowning.
I still find myself on that loop sometimes, walking through challenges, ducking temptations only to find another waiting for me on another day. But I’ve learned something along the way. When you know where you’ve been, you can get ready for where you’re going.
That is, when I identified the four things I struggle with the most, I was able to see what they looked like. The monsters had been pulled from under the bed and in the light I could begin to make preparations.
Someone smarter than me once said, “Predictable mistakes are preventable mistakes.” And by looking at my loop I can figure out where I’m headed next. I can say, “Wow, that was a struggle with the work obsessing, what over the last ten years has followed that? Oh, that’s right, worry.” And I can pray and plan for what I know is waiting for me.
Is planning the thing that keeps me from jumping from temptation to temptation to temptation? Not really. I tried to plan my way around that loop for twenty years and wrecked my life in the process. The truth is that I had to let go of the infinity loop and give it to God. I had to turn it over to him.
He didn’t take it away. I don’t think he always takes our temptations away, but now when I travel that loop, I know I’m not alone. I know where I’m going. And more than that, I know what’s next.
This post goes well with:
Shoplifting, turning 32 and the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
The cure for cancer and the alpaca addiction.