By Chris Alvarez
On May 18, 1980 Mt. St. Helens erupted, completely annihilating the surrounding areas. The eruption was the most powerful volcanic event in the lower 48 states, since the 1915 eruption of Lassen Peak in California. The explosion was as powerful as 24 megatons of TNT, 9 megatons more than the most powerful hydrogen bomb ever built by the US. It turned hundreds of miles of forest into wasteland described by President Jimmy Carter as, “more inhospitable than the surface of the moon,” and destroyed nearly 185 miles worth of highway. Along with destroying forests and infrastructure, it also destroyed a way of life that had existed in the area for nearly 80 years.
On January 24, 2012 the volcano of addiction that was my life erupted for the last time.
I recently visited Mt. St. Helens, and was surprised to see that while 30 years had passed since the terrible eruption, the area was still in recovery. For me, my addiction was a volcano that was endlessly erupting and destroying my life one tiny piece at a time. It’s been only 7 months but I am astonished with what I have achieved in my recovery so far.
When I decided that I wanted to get sober I knew that my old life was over. I came to believe that the way I had lived my life would have eventually killed me, and I knew I needed to stop. Since then, I have lived a life filled with recovery. Even, “in my darkest hour, my deepest despair, through my trials and tribulations and my hurt and my sorrows,” (my favorite lyrics from Michael Jackson’s hit song Will You Be There), there is still hope and recovery. This reminded me of an image I saw when I visited Mt. St. Helens—flowers being birthed from the corpse of the murdered forest. If addiction is an exploding volcano, then recovery is the regrowth of flowers from the corpse of my past.