When my son died, it never occurred to me to drink. Everyone held a collective breath and waited. They said they wouldn’t blame me, that it would be ok. Shane even poured me a shot of whiskey. My dad told me to go to the doctor and take whatever was prescribed. It never occurred to me to numb this pain.
I was only 17 years old when my son was born. Still in high school. He was six months old when I stood at the podium to receive my diploma and some silly award for never giving up. It never occurred to me to give up.
When I was in labor and offered medication to help with the pain, I didn’t fully understand what that meant and was afraid that he would be born somehow altered, so I declined. 8lbs 8oz and 27 ½ inches long, he was born into this world screaming and I immediately forgot the pain as he was placed in my arms. I fell in love like no other. You understand.
The day he died I was 9 years, 9 months and 7 days sober. An achievement that seemed insurmountable during the early days in the process, was just a another day in the life now. I just don’t drink. I didn’t numb the pain of his birth and I would not numb the pain of his death.
Last month I made it to 11 years. And just the other night, a good friend of mine looked me in the face and said “Don’t you get what a miracle you are? 1000 percent of alcoholics would have drank during this and you didn’t. That’s kinda a really big deal”. I never looked at it that way. But I thought about it and realized that most people won’t or don’t get who and what WE are. The Recovering and the Recovered. So here is this piece: For you those who don’t get it and for those who do. You know who you are. Feel free to copy and paste as you wish.
The disease of addiction is insidious. The Big Book states: Cunning Baffling and Powerful. It lies and manipulates as easily as you breathe. People with the disease are perceived and judged by society to be scum, thieves, deadbeats, dirtbags and oftentimes they rejoice when we succumb and lose our lives to this battle. Alcoholics struggle to overcome the basic genetic makeup of our brains. While attempting to recover we go against our very instinct. The disease is primal and convinces us that if we don’t use, we will die. An attempt to recover is nothing less than heroic. When we fail to recover, the shame is enough to kill us. And it does.
My own personal recovery has not been an easy road. I have stood silently at too many funerals. I have cried too many tears over those I have loved and lost to this disease. There have been moments that have left me breathless and sobbing on floor. And yet, I rise. I am not unique. Many have endured great tragedy. Many have fought through much worse. Many have others have survived. Because we must. We must show others the way. It is our God given responsibility to carry a message to the still sick and suffering. It is the price we pay for the gift of recovery. Above all else, the group consciousness must come before the self.
If you don’t understand this, be grateful. You are the ones who were spared the lives we have been chosen, I believe by God Himself, to live. Rest assured knowing you may live your lives never touching the true depths of the darkness which lies within. No one despises the alcoholic more than we despise ourselves. You cannot possibly understand until your every thought is consumed by how and when can you use again. Your body craves it, your mind commands you to forgo everything else. Mothers abandon their children. Husband’s sell their wives. Grandma’s engagement ring means nothing if we are to have one more. You cannot understand until you are on your knees, begging not to God, but to trade a piece of your soul for one last hit.
To convince someone there is a better life is the reward you receive for surviving. To hold another’s pain and listen to their deepest darkest moment and not flinch, not grimace and to not judge, to tell them it’s ok, you’ve been there too, to wipe their tears and promise if they just hold on, it will get better. To give that piece of yourself that you hold back from all others, that piece you only give away to the sick and suffering, your brothers and sister, that is glory.
That is why, in the face of everything, those who have recovered continue to hold on. To fight against our instincts. To carry the message. Because we must. It is our right. It is our gift. It is our responsibility. And it is an honor.