Happy Sunday, all!
In my last post, Into the Real World, I shared about the beginning of a new way of life, one in the real world, paying bills, and being a responsible adult, when my sober journey began in 2011. I learned a lot that summer, but would soon learn it wasn't a one time adjustment.
As school became somewhat normal, I realized that it wouldn't require as much time as I thought it would. I didn't have a job anymore, so I had plenty of time to do what can be so dangerous for those in early recovery - think. In addition to that, my sponsor and his wife decided in September that it was time for me to find my own place, to take the next step in life. That was a hard pill to swallow. I had just quit my full-time job under the notion that I'd be staying there until I finished school.
I started looking for places again. I came across many, and decided on and applied for the most financially feasible. I received a call I thought I'd never receive - I landed the apartment! I later found out the landlord essentially disregarded my history that should have otherwise disqualified me. This was one of many instances to come that would prove the existence of the Universe's power to make things work in favor of those who are doing the work of the Spirit.
That was October of 2011. Simultaneously, thoughts and feelings of drugs and alcohol began to creep back in. I was about 10 months sober, and finally heading to my own environment. I seriously began to wonder how this recovery thing would be long lasting. Anxiety around being in the world, in my own place, paying bills, and recovery in general, drove me to the thought that dominated so many years of my life - drugs and alcohol will make it all go away.
The problem was this - I had invested so much in 10 months, but more importantly, so many others had invested so much. The thought of the guilt, shame and remorse that would come after a drink or drug was as bad, or worse than, the anxiety and depression that were beginning to set in. I was left in what recovery literature likes to call the jumping off point. I couldn't imagine continuing on without numbing the thoughts and feelings I was experiencing, and I couldn't imagine relapsing and surviving. It was confusing. I was in recovery, not active addiction. I didn't understand why it was harder at 10 months sober than ever before. It was darkness in what I thought was light.
On a warm, October Sunday evening, there I sat, in the Wal-Mart parking lot, debating my next step. The options swirled in my head - get high, get drunk, or even worse, end my life. The pain was so incredibly strong. I had no power in that moment. There was another Power, though. One that would take over and decide for me. I called my buddy Jay, someone I had known for just a few months. I just so happened to drop some food off at his house the night before, so there he was, in my phone and in my thoughts. I told him I was in tough shape. He invited me over.
I'd never accepted an invite as fast as that day. I got to his house quickly, frantically explaining my state of mind. And all he did was tell me, "It's going to be alright. Let's do some more recovery work." As simple as that statement was, its impact was powerful. And, I did what so many of us who struggle in these times fail to do - talked about the reality of the pain.
We would go on to work through the twelve steps of recovery, the 3rd shot at those steps for me. The desperation I felt during that time was as great as ever. I acted as if this was my last chance. My last hope. And because I did, I gave it all. Leaving nothing left unsaid. That's what it took, and that's what it takes.
Simultaneously, I began the process of moving to my own place, continued on with school, and dove deep into my life and its secrets, revealing a new way of being that would follow all the promises I ever heard in recovery, and then some...
I'll leave you all with a couple requests - please don't ever assume that because someone has achieved some level of sobriety, life is better and the worst of the disease is gone. The disease has a lot less to do with the chemicals than it does with the psychological state of existence they contribute to over so many years. There is ALWAYS work to be done, forever and ever. And for all those who come to the jumping off point, make the phone call one more time. What comes from it might be life-saving.
Stay well and happy, everyone!