This afternoon while hastily running errands I thought my brain was on fire. “Do this, next do that…. yada yada yada”. All because I slept in, which I can legitimately blame on trying to beat this cold I feel coming on. But I digress… I had just received some good news “I’m doing it, I’m doing it… my life is getting better, my life is getting easier”… I was saying to myself with a smile on my face. It is always a powerful feeling when you realize your hard work is paying off.
If you follow my blog you know that last Winter I was hospitalized for severe depression. This was my 4th and by far the worst bout with such. With the help of my doctors, (therapists) my family and friends I have climbed out of that hole. These days I would say I’m not only out of the hole but resting a foot or two away from the edge… progress! How quickly things can change, however, if I am not vigilant on taking care of myself.
At my most vulnerable, I met others who, too, were at their most vulnerable, all of us were fighting our demons. I chose to write about this then and share this information with others in hopes that my experiences, my words could help other (even just one) other person know, they are not alone with their struggles. We are never alone. I met some people then whom a handful (few) I call “friends” today. These are people whom I need not explain a thing, they understand me, they do not try to fix me nor judge me or my actions, I return the same respect to them. It’s a very deep connection on one level and shallow on another. These are the friends in my life who I have shared the most intimate details with, and yet I see them rarely, know not their everyday lives, so in that regard, it can, from the outside, appear shallow. I shake my head as I think of the irony, it is not those who I am around day in, day out, those closest to me that know me or understand me best, but these people who know my darkest corners, have shared my darkest hours. I am grateful for these people. I am grateful for this handful of souls who I feel love me as I am, and love me when I can’t seem to muster up love for myself. More ironic yet, the faces of these souls were the same faces that I judged before. I did not understand nor “like” the relationship the addict I was with (who was trying to get clean) had with others in recovery. After all, I was their wife, their girlfriend, their fiancée, why did they need anyone else? Shaking my head and rolling my eyes. Just who the hell did I think I was?? What a mess I was! Today I look at these relationships much differently. Today I value their friendship, I understand they have pain (do not profess to understand it, but acknowledge and validate it), and I do not judge but try to offer a warm hand, ear when I can, and they, me. I cannot fix them, nor they, me. This, my friends, bakes up to be one very honest cookie sheet!
While waiting for the red light to turn green, and accompanying Adele with her hit “Someone like you” I felt excited about the good news I had gotten and grateful that I recognized my life changing for the better. Happy, a bit nervous as I am always afraid of being “cocky”, looking out for good old karma,…out the corner of my eye I see a guy who had been inpatient at the same time as I was. My heart stopped and I seriously had a hard swallow at what was in front of me. Relapse, back stroking, I don’t know and its not for me to know the details or judge, all I saw was “one of my own” back in the throws of the disease of addiction. How quickly tears can flow down a face that in the last millisecond had a smile.
Though not a “friend” we were hospitalized on the same floor. As fate would have it this would be my third hospitalization on a detox floor, as there was no more beds in the psych ward that a person with my mental challenges would be. I know not why this happened, I know better than to ask, as I believe everything happens for a reason. I do know that from these experiences I am no longer so quick to judge another harshly about their addiction(s). I saw things that I never want to see or experience again. If you had ever seen the movie “Ghost”, when the murderers at the end die, and the souls of their victims cry out through them, this is how I would describe addiction. It’s a body snatcher. The exterior looks like the person you love, and at times you see moments, flickers of who you love, but the progression of the disease, they are being increasingly ruled by an entity outside of themselves. I personally believe it to be miraculous when one gets and stays clean. Not without a lot of work on self, discipline, vigilance, not without devine help one gets clean. Recovery isn’t a green card that says pass go. In order to keep your recovery you have to continue with the very same actions that helped get you clean. Ask me why I gained back most of my weight after losing a back street boy? Because I didn’t follow through and continue the actions that got me there, I went back to my old ways, the very actions that deemed me overweight to begin with. Definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over hoping for different results . This insidious disease wants souls, try to escape its hold, it clenches down, harder.
I had been witness to this self professed alcoholics detoxification. Night tremors, seizures, loss of control of bodily functions, he fought his way through hell to get clean. He was brought to the local hospital a couple of times, was returned to the ward to continue with his detox. When we asked if he would be alright we were told “We don’t know”. He remained on premises for another month in out patient and then was transferred to another facility for follow up care. It is no small feat for an alcoholic or drug addict to get clean. It isn’t about their “will” as I had once thought and judged. Perhaps why I was hospitalized with those I had judged prior? I don’t think that anyone sets out to be an addict, who the hell would want that for themselves? And who the hell would pick up the same behavior after going through so much to get out of it???????? Alcoholism, addiction is no laughing matter, not even in the least. As a person who has survived by finding humor in mostly everything, I find no humor in alcoholism or addiction. None at all.
To get healthy I had to make choices to get and keep my own self healthy. He was not one of the few (handful) I kept in touch with. But that doesn’t mean I was not devastated at his relapse .I may not call him a friend, but he is a brother in flesh, a brother with an atrocious demon. As I sat at the red light watching him make his way up the street, flashbacks surfaced from almost two years ago. When detoxing he was put on a plethora of drugs which made him groggy, look and act drunk or drugged, Alongside of this the evidence of his emotional pain shown on his face. How did he get to this point? How did the little boy that his parents and grand parents loved and adored, doted on, grow up to be like this???? And how could they deny what had become of him???? Haunting, ridiculously sad, tragic.
My first instinct was to pull over and talk to him, but that was brief. In order to hold onto my own recovery I knew I could not help him, at least without harming myself. Involving myself in his life at this juncture was not good for me. I have often wondered and yes, judged others as to how they could turn a blinds eye to others in obvious peril. At times I still do, but I now also know where it can constitute taking care of your own body, soul. I said to my therapist a few weeks back “I feel like I’ve hardened”. She said “No, Donna, you haven’t hardened, you are learning self preservation, you are learning how to take care of yourself”. I am grateful I knew better than to involve myself, but I also wanted to help so I did the one thing that I know I can do, and what I believe is huge, and that was, I prayed for him. I prayed for God to look after him, for him to get the help he needs, to hopefully get clean, once and for all. Now that isn’t a small prayer. I prayed for God’s will for him to be done. I know not what God’s will for him is, nor am I supposed to know. I practiced “Let go, Let God” and I will continue to pray for him.
As I drove away, trying to compose myself and the stomach which I felt coming up through my throat, I swallowed my tears and thanked God once again for today Though very sad for him, it ironically made the good news I had gotten earlier, even bigger. Seeing someone fall isn’t easy, seeing someone self destruct is hell, I have seen both, and I have practiced both, fortunately for me, for whatever reason, I am still in recovery, and I am making progress. While not perfect, and with still a bundle and backpack full of problems, my life is getting better, my life is getting easier. It’s about my perspective. Today’s gift is perspective.
It’s not for me to know or judge another. I dislike it when others feel they know what is best for, or judge me. What has changed is that I no longer empower their thoughts with anger. I smile, collect my thoughts, find humor in the irony of judgment and continue down the path that I’m being guided to. I know not what is best for another, I know not what God has in store for another, and if I’m living my life right, I do not have time to think I do…. I’m here, keeping my own side of the road clean, cleaning up my messes, trying to learn from my errs…The only one I can change is me. The only one I can fix is me. As a recipient of such, I also understand that the significance of prayer should never be described as “just”. Prayer is everything, everything. The Serenity Prayer? My favorite.♥