I experienced a few trying days this last week and it had me on an emotional rollercoaster that I had not visited for some time. Needless to say, it was challenging. I had gotten a phone call from a good friend that was reaching out to me. This, mind you, is what everyone in recovery should try to do—be there for one another.
Now, this woman is a strong woman, a smart woman, witty, funny, insightful. She is all of these things—when she is sober. And I share this about her not pointing fingers, I am using this as a perfect example of “us.” Because we are not representative of who we really are when we are active in our addiction.
I listen, and we collaborate, best we can with someone who is fairly intoxicated. In fact, there were several people that were working together with her to help her get to a solution. Regardless, the message is clear on both ends… she needed and wanted help. The next step was to plan arrangements to get her there, which involved securing a spot that would admit her in a detox center she could get to, with a cooperating attitude to at least get her in the door. And then… the retraction of willingness.
She no longer wanted to go, and the dark cloud of despair and hopelessness overcame. That is when it happened. I started to cry.
I was sitting there sobbing, wondering who is it that I’m actually sobbing for? My tears were real, but my tears were selfish. Because I realized that although as concerned as I was for her overall, I was taking her situation and was instantly transposing it over events similar in my life that I had gone through.
Then I realized, even one step further, that I’m not even crying for ME… I’m crying about all of the pain that I have caused other people over and over... and over. So many times over that I became numb to it. I had built not only a tolerance for 80 proof liquor but to feelings of regret, and feelings of sincerity. I had built a tolerance to the feeling of being sorry for hurting other people.
These are people that would reach out to me and offer me a hand, tell me that I needed to get help, and they would get me there. And I refused so many times. I told myself that nobody loved me, and nobody cared. I realize now, that maybe by telling myself that, then I wouldn’t have to know and accept... and own, how much hurt I was putting others through…. That is how selfish I was. For all the millions of times I’d say I’d call, the nights that turned into weeks where they didn’t know where I was, who I was with, how to get a hold of me, or if I was even alive. I was a ghost. How many sleepless nights and anxious days just “not knowing.“ How many hours by my bedside at whatever hospital I was at that time. I had trained myself to not even acknowledge the kind of strain and damage I was forcing on others. All those years, how selfish was I to not think about what I was putting people through?
Well, I was feeling it now.
So, in some weird twisted light, this disease still owns me in all kinds of different ways. Ways that someone who isn’t an addict in recovery will never understand. People like us are different... people like us are complicated... people like us are scarred, and people like us, even on what might seem to be just another day, can be revisited by our haunting past.
And then I stopped crying. And I realized that I was feeling sorrow today for not letting myself feel sorrow back then, and by realizing that-- it was a positive thing. It might not have felt like it at the time, but it was healthy and productive. This blog is about hope and recovery, but as people on this path know... you have to dig up the bad, sometimes, to recognize the good.
So little by little we work on ourselves, and little by little we own our actions, and little by little we sort through our past to make the present make sense.
Little by little, we are putting ourselves back together to be able to live again. Tears, even selfish ones… are healing.
P.S I’m grateful