So there is an ever popular question, which people ask all the time. And the question is “Why?”
As in, if you got out and got away from the bad life, why would you ever go back to the poison that almost killed you?
I’ve heard people say, “You were doing so well,” or they’ll say “But you had so much potential,” and they say this with a sad, tragic expression on their face as if to express pity or as if I or you or we the diseased minded, sickly and weak have somehow fulfilled the supposed label of being a letdown and mentally ill.
There was a man I knew. He was an accomplished musician. He was extremely kind. He was generous. In fact, there was a poem he told me nearly 30 years ago. He told me this poem when I was angry and hateful. I was unlikable yet, this man didn’t seem to mind. He was friendly to me at a time when I was an unfriendly man. I was miserable and yet, this man would smile at me and offer the simplest greetings like, “Hello,” or “It’s good to see you!”
He was the kind of man that had a smile with healing power. In fact, I still remember the poem he told me, “A bell’s not a bell ‘til you ring it. A song’s not a song ’til you sing it. Love in your heart wasn’t put there to stay, for love isn’t love ’til you give it away.”
Out of anyone I’ve known or met throughout my tenure in the recovery world, I was certain this man would have never slid backwards. There was no one else like him in the world, let alone at a noontime 12-Step Meeting. One day, he slipped. More than 30 years away from the bottle and he went back.
After the slip, my friend was never able to get more than a handful of days together. He would come around sometimes, dressed like a flamboyant Hollywood star — which he was. Only, the big sunglasses he wore to hide his eyes could not hide the truth, nor could they hide the stumble in his walk. He hardly looked at me the last time we saw each other. I’m not even sure he recognized me.
Looking at this man and all of his success and kindness and seeing how he made people feel better, I thought about the way he addressed people like me, immature, homophobic, loud and angry, and these were my good qualities. I was just a crazy kid at the time. Yet, this man was good to me. He knew that I was only misled and struggling. He would disarm me. And the saddest part is he died this way. He died never getting back to the person he became. He died drunk.
Worse, he died never knowing that he was a hero to me; that he taught me ways to live, that he showed me I was wrong about my life and offered me a hand when I never believed I was deserving of kindness. He showed me how to give love away, even when the love might not be returned or deserved. I wish he knew how strong and loving he was to me. I wish I told him he was my friend. Gratefully, at least I say this now with hopes he hears me.
In the worst of it all, no matter how bad, or if your downfall is worse or if not as bad as someone else’s — the bottom line is it hurts to fall down. Or in this case, “fall off.” It hurts to find yourself at the bottom. It sucks to find yourself back where you used to go and back to the places where you’d swore you’d never be again — and yet, there you are (of course) exactly where you left off, right there, where old demons seem to meet you with a smile and say, “Come on in! We’ve been waiting for you. Pull up a seat and let’s get started.”
Keep in mind, the store is always open for business, 24/7, 365 days a year. Your business is always welcome. No credit? No problem. The beast will always work out a deal. Just watch out for the interest. Watch out for the fine print on the contract you signed. And look out for that last step. It might be a killer.
This is how the door closes behind you and the chemical placates the mind. You make sense of it all by slipping into something, say, a bit more comfortable if you know what I mean. And for the moment, the sad failure, the submission, the guilt and the shame are softened by a brand we call our drug of choice. It’s all soft and lofty for a while until the spiral goes down. And then we’re here, back on the ground again. Or worse, back to the grind and trying to keep our head from going under.
This is why more of the same is more of the same.
It’s like you never left.
And dig it—
There is no shame here. The truth is there really isn’t. There’s just a connection that made sense at the time. There’s a way of thinking, like a math problem in your head which goes, if X then Y.
Well, there was X, and then there was Y, followed by the rig and the downward needle pointed into the arm. There was a triggered connection, which chemically linked to another receptor that tied to an end result which we call emotions. Something blinded us and overwhelmed our senses with the need to feel weightless because otherwise, the world is just too damned heavy.
Know what I mean?
It is a repetition that makes sense; it’s a pattern or a chain of events that links one trigger to another. Or wait, no. This is an understanding and an expectation in which you believe, whenever this happens, that happens next, and next your thinking moves back to old settings. The unthinkable becomes understandable. It makes sense. The life, the reason you were there in the first place, the high and the routines and the rituals, like cooking up batches to defy the heavy gravitas, also known as reality.
This is more to a relapse of thinking that leads back to old settings which never go away. They just lay dormant or in remission. They say the disease is always a disease. And the beast? He keeps training. He does push ups to gain strength. My beast changes his accent. He switches dialects and speaks in different languages to keep me guessing. He whispers sometimes. And sometimes a whisper can be louder than a scream, which is why I learned not to listen. This is why I do what I do to defy the lies I hear in my head and keep me going — to keep from being dead!
This is a cycle which people like you and me understand. And don’t let anyone tell you differently. Our reactions may not be the same, but at the core, neither of us are so different.
We are all responding to something — maybe it’s the same thing, maybe not, but either way our behavior is a response that honors a thought, a want or a need, a desire, a discomfort, or maybe what we do is to honor the drive to feel weightless or better yet, unobjectionable (I love that word).
In this case, the need was as simple as this: you just wanted to feel better.
You wanted relief, which is self-serving — we admit this, by the way, because we do what we did, regardless of the consequences and who this hurts. We know what and why, where and who.
You needed something to fix the missed connections in your head. It was a solution; not right or wrong, but more so, the slip or “relapse” was just an action taken to fill a void. This was done to solve the compulsion.
You wanted to fix the brokenness of the pathway that won’t go away. You needed to solve the riddle and fix the problem.
But wait a minute . . .
As a matter of fact, isn’t that what we used to call it?
See, the cycle only continues with self-degradation. This feeds the compulsion with lies that recommend “You won’t ever feel better, unless . . .”
Unless you find yourself Narcan’ed at the E.R. in Bergen Regional?
This is a fact, by the way. Our thinking is trained to go a certain way. Our thoughts move through a pathway that knows this route by heart (It’s the same as you know the road to Paterson, in which you could get there, blindfolded, and driving from the backseat in the passenger side).
More to the point, habitual thinking is habit, which becomes almost without thought, which becomes reactionary, or trained like the pathways of your thinking that always go over the same bridge (or Route 80) to connect one need to another — it is knee-jerk, a reflex — if unaddressed, it is almost like an involuntary reaction to a stimuli, in whichever form the stimulant may be. You just go.
Your thoughts just connect without input.
See? That’s where the repetition comes in, which in turn, causes you to believe “This is just how I am.” You say to yourself, “This is just me,” when the fact remains that no, this isn’t how you are — this is just how you’ve been trained to react. And you’ve done this for so long that you can’t seem to see yourself reacting in any other way.
It’s time though, right now.
The time for self-degradation has to stop.
The time for self-destruction has to come to an end; otherwise, the bottom you hit just comes with a trap door, which leads to another downfall.
The time for honoring your habit has to change by honoring your desire to improve.
No matter what, it’s time.
It’s a “two roads diverged in a yellow wood,” type of thing.
Know what I mean?
Which road do you want to choose?
Is it here
Got word this morning—
Grateful to learn about a car ride out east. Treatment is good. Don’t believe anything else.
Beating yourself up about shame or mistakes doesn’t work.
This just leads us back to the same old thing.
Next thing that happens is just a process, depending upon what you decide. . .
And by the way . . .
I’ll be here . . .
Text me if you need me.