The UPs, and downs
For the first time in weeks, I missed a meeting. It was semi-intentional, but kinda not. I went downtown, not more than five or six minutes away from the meeting, and parked in a parking lot to read. I began reading, and before I knew it, it was time for the meeting. Again, semi-intentional, but kinda not.
I’m just tired of hitting meetings because I don’t want to be alone. It’s not that missing a meeting is going to set me off, nor that going to one isn’t necessary, it’s just that I am getting burned out on them. I need a break. I haven’t done my German lessons in a number of days because I’ve been so busy hitting meetings, and going to work, but I’m also on-call this week. I’m starting to hit that slump, where there’s not enough sleep or get-away-time – but at least I see it coming.
One of the first things I noticed in early sobriety was the “slump,” or the “hole.” I always knew when I was at the bottom of it, but not before it had taken its toll on me. That always happened so fast, so many times, and lasted so long, it was so difficult to get out of. Every time, I wondered, “What in the hell had happened, why have I fallen back into this dreary misery again?!”
But as I began to really stay in recovery, focusing on my sobriety, I began to see a pattern. Not necessarily a pattern of what triggered these events, though that did happen, but more of a pattern in timing. For instance, when I knew that I was having a great day, it was sure to be followed by a crap day (or week or hour or what have you). That’s just how it works; UP, then down. It’s a cycle of waves. There’s no choice in the matter, that is going to happen. But as I began to realize that the UPs had the downs, I also began to realize that the downs – had the UPs. Once I understood that, and I expected it, I could start seeing where the downs were, and preparing for them. I knew it was coming, so it was no surprise.
So, how do I deal with the downs? Well, I’m glad you asked! Let me tell you.
First, I acknowledge that I’m UP. “Helloooooo World! I’m up top! And I like what I see!” I become immediately grateful that I am where I am at; in a good mood, feeling awesome after a rest, an exercise that just hit that sweet spot, I remembered Mom’s birthday. I’m good!
I also acknowledge that there is a down. I prepare for it, I know that I will come down, so I tie myself to other people who are also living in the addiction cycle. They help hold me up so that my down isn’t as far down as it could be. And when I’m down, I remind myself, “This will pass. This will go away, and I will be back on top!” I assure myself that all is not lost, and I try to become grateful for the moments that are going to come. And sure enough, I’m soon yelling, “Helloooooo World! I’m up top! And I like what I see!”
This is how recovery rolls, in cyclic waves of valleys and mountains, UP!, then down. The beauty, however, comes in the recognition and support. I can see a crash coming, or if I don’t, someone on my support team does, and they warn me. And if I am keen on not dipping my head below the surface, I will heed the warning, go for the ride, and come back on top.
This is where the meetings and program-friends come in, they are the support. But if we try too hard, we can get overwhelmed and burn out the ties; and separate from the support altogether. And that would be no good; life-boating it alone is not just lonely, it’s dangerous. So balance is important. It is okay to take time for oneself, and to do what we want and need to do. Right now, I’m not in the slump, I’m somewhere in-between. I can’t figure out if it is the ride up, or down – but I’m okay at this moment.
Nevertheless, in hindsight, this may not have been a very good excuse. I’m doing okay right now, but I have had some things on my mind that have had me spinning, and deciding to let loose of my support team could be a bad thing. If I didn’t need to watch my nephew tonight, I’d head straight over to a meeting right now, but alas, I have to be home in a few minutes. I guess I’ll need to make a phone call, reach out, and ask for assistance – I need this support. I cannot make this on my own. I know that. I absolutely must have help with all of this, or I will sink. But thankfully, I have a support team. That’s something I never thought that I’d have, and I hope that someday, I can be as helpful to someone else that is suffering alone.
I am a very, very blessed man these days. If anyone ever says that being an alcoholic was a curse, let me tell you this: They are wrong. Being an alcoholic saved my ass, and turned my life into one I am finding worth living, as hard as it is some days. It’s not the dream life I had wished for when I was drunk, or a kid, but it’s full of surprise, wonder, truth, trust building – and hope. All I have to do is wait – it’s a guarantee that I’ll be UP and then down. But that, too, shall pass.