Sunday, August 29, 2010

"Reckoning With Grief"

Grief and fear are on my mind today. Someone I love is going through a very tough time, reckoning with a loss that she has kept at bay for years. It’s finally broken through and feels like more than she can handle. She talks about feeling like she’s drowning. I’m afraid for her and find myself worrying and afraid for myself. I know full-well that she’s strong enough to make it through, but I’m still afraid she won’t. I’m having shadows of Ken’s death, and doing a lot of reaching out to my higher power for peace from my overactive imagination.

My brain is doing its addict thing. Uncle Steve is watching the old videos from when Ken committed suicide. He’s telling me we’ll have a new video to watch soon. I snap at him to shut the fuck up, that he doesn’t know the future. I’m telling myself that I don’t know the future, and to have faith, and that regardless of what happens I will make it through somehow. But that damn addict side—good ol’ Uncle Steve—is already making his plans for the worst.

I try to remember that this what I do, that I don’t always handle uncertainty well. That my fears are fierce. And that being consumed by my stuff prevents me from being there for those who need me. But that damn Uncle Steve side keeps shouting at me. He’s just a metaphor I use here, in this blog, because it’s easier to talk about him sometimes than it is to say the simple truths: I’m afraid. I’m worried.

Thoughts about my own suicide attempts are showing up, and the damn disease is using them as a way to try to make me feel less-than. It tells me that I’m a liar for saying I have three suicide attempts—it tells me, “you got interrupted once, and the second time you reached out for help and had yourself put in a mental hospital; you never really tried to commit suicide. You didn’t actually load a gun and point it at your head. You didn’t ever actually slit your wrists. And that third time, what a joke! Trying to OD on pills that you can’t overdose on? What a moron!”

The disease feeds on fear. It’s like candy to it.

I look down at my legs and count the scars from my self-inflicted cigarette burns and razor blade cuts. Twelve on the right; six on the left. I know there used to be more. They’re fading as time continues to pass. It’s been years now since I made any, but I still remember doing them. I can still remember the intense, agonizing pain I was in that was so intolerable that holding a lit cigarette to my skin was the only escape I could find from it. I can still remember feeling so consumed by fear and sorrow and pain that the only way out seemed to be ending it all.

A sponsee of mine is dealing with a real hard issue right now. It’s something totally different than the situations I’m writing about here, but it’s strong enough that he’s debating leaving the program. I told him about a basic, basic, tool that I started practicing when I began my Recovery: acceptance. The way through is acceptance. Know how you feel, and know that it’s okay to feel it.

I’m afraid right now. Some of that fear is justified. Some of it is the specter of my past experiences reasserting themselves on the present. Some of it is my disease blowing things way out of proportion. But fear is just a feeling, and feelings don’t kill us. They can be so strong that they overwhelm us, they can threaten to drown us, but they can’t actually do so. I’ve learned through my work in Recovery to name my feelings, to call out my emotions.

The way through is acceptance. If I’m feeling fear, then that’s what I feel. And that’s okay. And I will BE okay, no matter what. Because I’m okay now.

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