Last night my little cat Pickles had a rough night. From about 3am – 4am we were up together. Tears in my eyes and love in my heart for this animal that has been with me since I have been in recovery…12 years.
He will have an ultra sound this weekend and hopefully a diagnosis.
But the post is not about him. As I was up in the wee hours of the morning doing what I could for the little guy, I was thinking of all of you.
I was thinking how none of us “really” know what anyone else is going through. We can hear words, listen to friends or even strangers share their experience, but we never “really” know what the other has felt or is feeling.
I have had my own unique journey in this world forming opinions on all of it. As simple as the fact that I love the color purple…that color might mean something horrific to another.
What means one thing to me can mean something totally different to you.
I just realized as I am writing….it’s not the thoughts that connect us, it’s not what we think about the thoughts or the experiences.
It is not the conditions.
It’s the heart that connects us. It’s the love that we are all made of. It’s the god given spirit of energy that runs through my body and yours that make us all the same.
This is something that has baffled me since I have come into recovery.
It is said that once an addict “reaches their bottom” then and only then can they truly surrender and get well. However, I have noticed over the years that each persons “bottom” is different.
Why are all of our “bottoms” different?
I thought that my situation was the WORST! A mother who was beat up head to toe and unable to care for her child. A stumbling mess on the front lawn for my son and the world to see as I tried to get my boy off the bus.
Then I enter rehab and I hear all of the things my new recovering friends went through to get to the same exact place I was.
I was 35 years old when I got to rehab. A lot of the patients were just kids. One girl was 19 years old and she was already shooting heroine in her neck for lack of good veins anywhere else.
Another young kid 18 years old, robbed an armored money truck and hid the money in a snow bank somewhere near Gillette Stadium. We all got to rehab in May soooo….the snow was gone and so was the money.
Many people lose their children, spouses, families. They become homeless, live in the streets, eat out of dumpsters…. and they STILL cannot receive the grace to stop.
I know in my heart we are all worthy. I also know everyone’s journey is their own. But damn…this one really baffles me.
Sometimes I really just love talking to strangers. People in the world that I meet randomly.
It happens often when I am out with the boys that I nanny for. Mostly at the different parks or playgrounds we go to. Or if I am out walking and someone has a dog…I am stopping and asking if I can pet it.
But strangers are everywhere. And I recently realized just how much I love engaging in some form of conversation with them. Obviously I prefer the nice smiley ones, but hey a grouch or two never hurt my day either.
It has become like a fresh opportunity to connect with someone that I have no preconceived judgement about.
They also know absolutely nothing about me either which I really enjoy.
It’s nice. It feels like a new gift I am discovering.
A few weeks ago I developed new allergies. These allergies caused me to cough uncontrollably day and night. This in turn started to aggravate my current back issue horribly.
I was trapped in my own mess of a body. I could not play with the boys that I nanny for the way I am used to. I just felt miserable all over.
One of the days I was with Clay (4yr old) and we were in a store buying bubbles. We decided to do self check out because he loves to beep the item and then bag it himself.
Well something went wrong and the light went on and we were waiting for the store clerk to come over. The automated check out kept saying “Please wait help is on the way.” I getting annoyed and Clay getting antsy just impatiently waited.
We got our bubbles and headed to the car. Clay gets in and I winced because a pain shot through my back as I was buckling him. I didn’t yell or anything but he noticed my face and the energy shift.
Then Clay says “Please wait help is on the way.”
I nearly started laughing and crying all at the same time. He knows.
Today I am soooooo happy to report that it is the very first day in a long time….that I have not had to take any tylenol or ibuprofen for my back. Also today is the first day with no allergy medicine!!!! I am medicine freeeee!!!
I played pain free with the boys today. I hate waiting but help WAS on the way.
I was on a zoom recovery meeting last night. The topic was: “How have the rooms of recovery changed since you first came in?”
A trick question I thought. I am not sure how much the rooms have changed as opposed to how much I have changed.
The discussion took a very nice turn. One very seasoned older gentlemen shared how much we can complicate things even when given simple daily spiritual guidelines.
He stated that there are different rules that have been made at different group meetings. Such as how many days clean you have to have before you can speak at meeting or lead a meeting.
What I realized is that the principle of humility is sincerely based on “one day at a time” or “just for today.”
I am no better than someone who has less clean time than me. My friend Bootsy says “we might be a little better off…but we are no better.” And even that statement I think depends on the day and the state of being I am in -in the moment.
Granted, I am super grateful for every day clean that I have that has led up to years. But to truly keep it in the day reminds me I only have today. So does everybody else.
I believe to level the playing field and to receive everyone exactly where they are without judgement – or rules – is the true essence of recovery.
I still catch myself saying “I have tried everything humanely possible!!” And then something whispers….what about god?
I find myself fortunate in having a disease that can only be arrested by a force greater than me. This power I call god.
How do I KNOW that this is a power and grace that keeps me sober and able to function and experience life? Because I tried every way “humanely possible” to stop drinking and using drugs and “I” could not.
A simple solution was presented. They told me to ask a god ( of my understanding) for help in the morning and then say thank you at night.
Today I am the first to admit that my self will and action becomes caught up in the daily activities and I forget about god. But when I have those days…..I am aware that they are not as enjoyable.
When I keep the energy of my soul first and in tune with the love that is gods grace and harmony – beauty resides in all things.
God’s power can keep me sober….I just love thinking about ALL of the other things this power and grace can do.
I am not a big fan of any type of doctor and my cats really do not like them either. It is a very stressful situation for all involved.
Pickles had to pay a visit because he has been losing weight for no real apparent reason. He is very skinny and I am concerned for him. I put the visit off as long as I could but today was the day.
The appointment was at 3pm so I had all day to stress. I kept trying to turn it over to a higher energy force. I kept telling myself it is for the good. It was far to late for me to really get in tune with my feelings because I just love this animal way to much!
As soon as I pulled the cat carrier out of the closet Snoopy got low to the ground and hid under the bed. I quickly scooped Pickles up with a very soft blanket and then shoved him in the carrier. That was enough for me.
He meows LOUDLY and looks at me so sadly. I had thoughts of letting him run free in a field. But then…coyotes.
I selfishly have trapped him and his brother in my home. I feed them and I love them unbelievably, they sleep with me every night…but do they really want this life? I know its an awful way to think. But all of this got kicked up because of a trip to the vet.
The outcome of the visit? Well they are asking I bring him to another place – a specialist so they can perform an Ultra Sound. Really?
We are all going to decompress for a bit before I schedule that nightmare.
There was a time in my 20’s and even some time in my 30’s where I was a bartender.
Perfect job for the budding alcoholic.
As I look back now I see how this choice of career obviously fed my disease. Being a bartender allowed me to see people who drank everyday. People drinking everyday became very normal to me.
The regulars at the bar were my “bread and butter”. I would be disappointed if one did not show up for a day or two.
I always thought that I was somehow “better off” because I did not start drinking until the end of the evening, approximately 10pm. (oh how I remember). My shift would not end until about 1am and then the after party at the bar was a nightly routine as well.
The bar scene was chaos. It had rock bands, dj’s, weekly fights, drug deals. I once found a gun in my tip jar… a real gun.
I also thought I was better than somehow because the others were spending money and I was getting paid to party basically.
I positioned myself to feel comfortable in my disease. I surrounded myself with people who either drank more than me or just like me.
Today….the difference of where I position myself and with whom I surround myself with is dramatically different.
The people places and things that I surround myself with today feed my soul not my disease.
Addiction is unfortunately a shame based disease. I can understand when the addict is in the addiction and does not want to stop. Then hiding it becomes second nature.
But I went through a period where I did want to stop. This actually triggers a painful memory. Before I explain the event, this is not to blame anyone. It is to hopefully help the next addict in this situation – or sober person.
I was married at the time and my x-husband was as uneducated about addiction and alcohol abuse as I was. He was sober and I was not.
One particular week I was trying to stop drinking. I was starting to feel the physical with drawls – the shakes, the nausea, your brain and body are in a state of panic. He knew I was trying to stop and his thinking and lack of education allowed him to just assume that I “could” stop when I wanted to – no problem.
He did not want an alcoholic drug addict wife and he just wanted me to fix it and make it go away. Continue hiding it until it was fixed.
The reality of it all led me to be curled up in a ball in the corner of our bedroom, sobbing and just hopeless.
This I will not forget. When he saw me in the corner crying…there was no compassion and his words were “You better get it together.” And he walked out.
I understand how frustrating it can be for the person on the other side of things. Having been in recovery for almost 12 years now, I have seen my fair share of people in horrible situations.
I guess I am posting this to let anyone who reads it know that if you struggle or someone you know struggles and they are ready and willing to stop…hiding it is no longer necessary.
The truth along with love, patience, compassion, understanding and openness were the remedy for me to heal.
The other day I received a very kind email from a friend who wanted to apologize for potentially hurting my feelings.
In the email he stated “the rings of that hurt can go outward like a splash in the water.” This hit me and got me thinking.
I started to think about how when one addict or alcoholic gets clean how this splash in the water causes the ripple of recovery. What does this ripple look like?
It is hard to for me to see it in myself and in my own life but I have had the pleasure of seeing it in many others in recovery.
One friend imparticular made a huge splash when she came into the rooms of recovery. She fought tooth and nail, kicked, screamed, tantrumed, lied and still used drugs. She was your regular defiant everyday addict. Until the time of her surrender.
Since her surrender in only a small time span, her beautiful ripple has touched many. This one addict getting sober touched : her husband, his beautiful mother before she passed, her 3 sons, her grandchildren, her friends, women watching her at meetings, the special needs children on the bus that she cares for everyday, the people in her community that now see her well. And so many more that I can’t even keep track of.
It all begins with one.
What I am learning is that we are all far more powerful than we even realize.