I was thinking about my recovery the other day, like we all do occasionally, and I started looking back at the things I’d done. And not done. Both could be victories, depending on how we look at them. Perspective – know what I mean?
I mean, there’s the obvious: I did it one day at a time. I hit many meetings that I “never had time for” and yet, miraculously found the time. I hold down a job. I’m nicer to people. I’ve met a lot of people, learned how to open up to some of them, and I’ve even gone as far as reaching out myself.
But – there’s also the not-so-obvious ones, or ones that everyone takes for granted. These are feats in and of themselves, I assure you! Especially like not drinking (or otherwise using). That’s no easy task. At least, for me it wasn’t.
I spent nine to ten months STRUGGLING to not drink. And by struggle, I mean quite literally, white-knuckling it, night after night, listening to that incessant tick-tocking of the clock slowly laughing, minute by minute, second by second – for hours. But I didn’t drink. It is possible to do that.
Once I was “past” the white-knuckling, I had to get out of the fog. Even though the fog had started to lift around ten months, I was in a daze for two or three months afterwards. Things still didn’t seem “right,” and in fact, when I got my one year coin, I was still dead as a doornail. I couldn’t feel a thing. There was no excitement whatsoever, and I still didn’t think I was going to make it. I was sure that I was going to bombard, wipe out and never return… which, at the time, I was still okay with being dead and in fact, I even secretly wished for it. I’m glad the Universe has a deaf ear when it needs to.
Or what about when went to my first event sober? Talk about a terrifying! I was so buried in my self-loathing most of the time, I hadn’t even realized that people actually noticed me. They gave me my space, but never left me alone. I was invited (not bothered) to come bowling. I didn’t even like bowling. I hated it because I could, because it sufficed my suffering to hate something else that was unnecessary to hate. I could at least control that in my life. But I was gently prodded by two wonderful people, and that opened my life to a whole new world, like going to a dance for the first time ever in my life thanks to another person in an entirely different meeting.
I eventually found myself learning how to deal with people on a personal level. Things that most people knew how to do at some young level in their life, but from which I had run for reasons unnecessary to mention in this particular blog. I began to gain friends – not just singular, but PLURAL. I found myself learning, as I still am today, how to work with more than just one person on a personal level. One friend I trust more than any of the others, the rest I trust for various other reasons. And I am slowly gaining new friends. I must note here that I find this rather exhausting, I truly don’t know how people have a “bucket of friends” (as two of my counselors referred to them). It just doesn’t make sense to me, but I will say this:
I’m learning. I’m learning that where there are things I dislike, there are things I like, and visa-versa. I’m learning that, even though I try not to, I will accidentally hurt people’s feelings occasionally, and that they, too, will accidentally hurt mine. We will have disagreements, we may even argue. But (now THIS is the lesson, wait for it), they will still be here. They will still hang on to me, within reason of course. They aren’t just going to stop talking to me... or die. This may seem obvious. Or not-so-obvious. I realize, of course, I’m solely responsible for my own happiness and well being, but my point is that I do have some people that I can lean on. We can actually compliment each other and live in relative harmony.
These may seem like obvious things to most people, but to me, they are NOT. Most of these things are hidden, rough stones with sharp, jagged edges that I’m just now learning to recognize and find, and cut into gems. These are the treasures that keep me moving forward, that keep me trying, that keep me learning, and that keep me wanting – not only for me, but equally for others as well.
I’m grateful for the people that got me out and among the crowd during the first-ever dance I’d been to. And the ones that got me bowling. Or going to a Buddhist retreat to learn how to meditate.
The fog lifts, I promise. The confusion settles from the dust-storm to a mere dust devil, occasionally speckled with a tornado or two. But clarity, I’ve learned, always returns. I’m grateful for that nearly-forgotten fog; faded enough to be at peace, but visible enough to remember from whence I came.
And The Rooms, and the People in The Rooms. All of the different variations, from various 12-step meetings to retreats to counseling to activities groups and family. All where I could be left unbothered to obviously white-knuckle in my own misery, or be shown how to live. I was loved by those that knew the suffering, understood the fear, and believed in the person they knew I must be hiding inside but that I couldn't recognize myself. If it wasn’t for the People, I would be dead today. But I’m not. I’ve very much alive.
I’m grateful for all of the victories I’ve had in my recovery, both the obvious and the not-so-obvious ones. Likewise, i'm just as grateful for the things I have done – and not done... like drink.
It does get better. Truly. It does. I promise.