I’ve gone silent on the topic of recovery. First off, well, this isn’t intended to be a recovery blog. Second I’ve been doing a lot of work and just don’t know how to write about it yet. But mostly I’m afraid. Letting fear get a hold of me is a bad sign. I’m afraid whatever I say can, and too likely will, be used against me.
I read a few great posts tonight that pushed me to go on and write what I need to write. I’ll start with the second one, 4 Years Sober and Still Not Perfect. Yeah, my thinking hasn’t been so good recently. I took that AWARE assessment and scored 122. Yikes. There’s a wake up call. I didn’t really need the number to tell me I’ve been in dangerous territory recently. I’ve been stuck. I need help and support I’m not getting. I’m still trying to built a new network out of the wreckage of my past. Bit by bit. These things take time.
The first one, Intermediate Recovery: My Beef With the 12-Step Program, reminded me that “the problem with getting sober is that we remember why we drank in the first place.” I can’t remember where I got the quote from. But, oh, is it so very true. And it reminds me of my fourth step. I didn’t have to go very far to see, all too loud and clear, what led me to where I am. There isn’t one answer to why I used. Several ingredients cook together to make that soup.
1. I had a bad relationship with God. Oh, I was very much seeking God and needing God. I can’t claim I ever lost Her. But something happened and I blamed Her. I didn’t have the faith to really trust that it was for the best in the end. The whole situation seemed a monumentally unfair curse to my young eyes. Even precocious and self-aware 14 year olds need a certain amount of help and guidance to develop spiritual tools. I needed the big, grown-up radical wwjd? God. I had rejected what I had been taught but didn’t have anything better to replace it with. I had a good relationship with God.
2. I had a bad relationship with a person. I learned addictive, selfish, arrogant ways of relating to people. It was twisted. It was strange. It was impossible. It was also a good relationship. I learned that I mattered to someone, I learned to be patient, I learned to love and bond deeply. It was beautiful. It was stimulating. It was impossible.
3. Life hurt. I was 15 and figured if I was already punished I might as well go on and do the deed. Life was amazing. I saw it all through a poets eyes and wanted to experience everything.
4. I had learned to never ask for or have any expectation of having my needs met. I lived self-contained and self-reliant and self-centered. Of course, we cannot meet the real, human needs of touch and companionship without help. I tried not to need those things I couldn’t procure for myself by myself. Independence was my drive and goal.
That’s the very short version. I had spiritual, emotional and physical needs that weren’t being met combined with that addictive behavior is contagious and I was well exposed. I won’t bother with the details and specific events, they really don’t matter. I had no excuses. I knew I was likely to have a genetic predisposition toward addiction. I knew God. I had family and friends. I was a good student and good employee. I’d had a year and a half of good therapy. I had good teachers. I was bright and creative. I even knew exactly what my calling and purpose was. I still chose to try it all. And then to go back and do it again. And again.
The paradox is that all of the things that led me to use ended up being the things that led me to quit. God kept whispering “come!” Interactions with the very same person contributed to the tension the led to the bottom coming up to get me. I wanted life back. And I didn’t want to depend on getting high to get by anymore.
I have to hang on to just a little bit of fear. If I ever have the courage to pick up again I’m fucked. I fear going back where I was. But I can’t let anyone’s anger cow me into silence. That is the top of a very slippery slope. Death is at the bottom. I don’t say that poetically or dramatically. It probably won’t be a quick or tragic death, just an ugly miserable one alone and alienated from God and my loved ones.
I want, more than anything else, to go running after that whispered “come!” That is my primary need and motivation. I lack the words for this. I’ve tried and tried and tried to find some way to write it. I heard but could not move my feet. I knew what I needed to do long before I did it. I had to break to find the humility to make that call and find help. I needed to break. The bottom had to come up and smack me upside the head. I needed to learn that, needed to know what it is to experience that pain and shame. Being pregnant and single and fleeing an abuser didn’t break me. Holding a baby struggling to breathe didn’t break me. Working those insane hours to feed two kids alone didn’t break me. The drama and chaos of my first marriage didn’t break me. I broke me. I needed to run after that “come!” and being unable to follow broke me.
I had to spiral around on my own for a long time before I finally admitted I couldn’t do it. I had to thoroughly test my own powerlessness before I could make any progress. I’m foolish and stubborn like that. Had I been referred or pressured into recovery it would not have worked. I had to be broken to be ready. Much of my life was well managed. But I couldn’t manage to lift my feet and follow.
I know I will never, ever no matter what I do be anywhere close to perfect. If I can follow God’s will for me I can’t ask for more. I really can’t imagine four years sober. All I can do is stay right here, right now. I have no idea how accurate that AWARE assessment is. But I do know I need to remember that if I don’t rely on people I will be stuck again. I need to keep reaching out. I need to remember that if I am important to God then I have every right to have my needs met but it is up to me to keep searching and asking. No one can read my mind and ever expecting that is insane. I need to be more careful about letting other people get to me.
Half of the reasons I used are things I have complete control over. I can hold as tight to God’s hand as I want to. I can’t control life but I can watch my attitude. I can’t make anyone meet my needs but I can find other ways of taking care of myself. And I don’t have to let anyone have power over me. I answer to God.
This is what I need to write about, what I want to use this space for, what or how I choose to share of myself. If humbly sharing my failures and shortcomings is “airing my dirty laundry” it isn’t my business what is said about me. If showing that healing and recovery are possibilities is “getting on a high-horse” it isn’t my business what anyone thinks about me either. I don’t have to let those accusations spiral me into hurt and anger and fear and anxiety or them control what I do or say. I know judgements and criticism like that are usually much more reflective of the speaker than the target. But I’ve still been letting it get to me. Knowing and doing can be closely tied or worlds apart.
The bottom line is that allowing myself to be hurt and manipulated is a set-up for disaster. I will, sooner or later, end up back at the bottle and bong or a suicide statistic. And neither of those does anything to serve God. I am not responsible for anyone’s emotions, reactions, or observations other than my own. And I need to keep healthy boundaries between myself and people who make it a habit to take their shit out on me. I don’t have to tolerate hurtful behavior or cruel words from anyone. I am God’s child. It’s His eyes and His eyes only that matter.