Friday, August 27, 2010

“Life Happens”

(This blog is first in a three-part series, “Time Takes Time”)

When I had a year of Recovery under my belt, I got involved in a relationship. Making a long story short, it was not a good thing. Things between us were very chaotic. I’d say that I went totally insane trying to do it, but the truth is that I’d been totally insane to even start it. By the time it was over, I’d managed to devolve into such a hysterical state that I was punching holes in doors again.

I have a friend who went through some difficult times financially. He decided to go to his parents and ask for their help. They had been so supportive of his getting clean, and of him moving forward with his life, that he assumed they would give him any help he needed. He approached them thinking they would say ‘yes’; he knew they loved him and thought they would want him to be successful in his new life. They denied his request for help, and in response he cut them out of his life. He had around nine months at the time.

Someone who I think very highly of had two years clean when she reached a breaking point. Things in her marriage were not so good, her children were driving her crazy, her job was stressful beyond belief, and money was so tight that she didn’t know from day to day whether she would be able to feed her family. She called her sponsor, kept going to meetings, but each day was a struggle to not get in her car and literally just drive away from all of it.

At a recent meeting, I had a conversation with a newcomer. She has about three months. She’s got a sponsor, is working the steps, and is being of service. Currently, she’s unemployed. She has children who are grown and out of the house, but their lives are filled with insanity and it affects her. She tries to help, and tries to keep boundaries, but finds herself full of anger and sadness and all the other emotions that go along with trying to deal with life. She told me that she finds herself shutting down and spending days locked away in her room, in bed, because it’s all too much. She wants to yell, scream, cry.

My sponsor will share in meetings that he has done some crazy things in sobriety. A newcomer I knew once shared with me privately that hearing this comment was the reason why she chose to continue working the program: because she realized that she could be crazy and sober at the same time. Her thinking was that it was okay for her to be sober if she was allowed to still be insane, too.

I had a best friend once who one day, after insisting to me for months that he wasn’t interested in an ex-girlfriend of mine, let me know that the two of them were getting together. They’d had feelings for each other for a long time and he couldn’t bear the guilt of it any longer. Even though he knew it might well be the end of our friendship, he had to do what he had to do. We’ve barely spoken to each other since.

Recovery is a process, not an event. Our lives don’t magically become perfect overnight just because we get sober. We still create wreckage. We still create chaos. And no matter how much time we get, we are never cured. Our brains and our bodies are damaged. Our thinking and our reasoning processes have become warped by the disease. That doesn’t change just because we stop putting in.

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