A few days ago it was one of those unfortunate days where I woke up from a text from a friend that I had met while in Rehab.
"Danny, I did something stupid."
That was all it said, but I already knew what had happened. As much as I hated getting those texts, they are better than the ones from a loved one saying that they have passed. I think we can all agree with that.
I got myself out of bed and got myself physically, as well as emotionally ready to handle what was about to become of my day. Of course I was going to help, there was no question about it, but I always seem to forget just how much it can take out of me emotionally. Especially when you see one you care about going through those agonizing withdrawals that us addicts are just all too familiar with.
I got there and it was just as expected. The normal symptoms of withdrawal had already kicked in. I hated not being able to really help. Natural remedies and support was all I had to offer at that time.
After calming down a little and her being able to get some words out, I was just in...I don't even know how to explain it really. The words that were spilling out of her mouth made me so incredibly sad, but yet were so dangerously familiar.
After quite some time, I had to leave to follow-up on some errands I had to take care of. Still though, the scene I had just left would not leave my mind. I really started to think about the sentences she was putting together and noticed it really connected to one main thing: Guilt.
Now, as I have said before, I am not in the traditional 12-step programs but have nothing against them. It just simply was not for me. She was so scared what the others in her program, or group, would think when she would have to announce it. But with anyone, I feel it can be that exact guilt that could drive us to the next bottle, or pipe hit. We don't want to deal with the aftermath of having "failed."
That is when it really just got to me. There is such a big concentration in the world of Addiction that relapse means failure. To me, I think that just does the exact opposite of what it needs to do. I was trying to explain to her that she did not relapse, she had a "slip."
Anyone coming from a hardcore addiction knows how truly miserable it can be sometimes to stay clean and sober throughout the toughest times of the new life we are trying to lead.
I mean personally from my experience, when I relapsed, the guilt came rushing in as soon as that codeine blanket lifted just a little. And for me it was that guilt that just kept getting me to the next bottle of pills, or black tar. At that point, I would have rather kept digging a deeper hole for myself than to talk about what I thought was just another failure in my life.
Don't get me wrong, I still consider relapsing, or having a slip as a serious matter, but how serious is completely in our own head. As addicts, I think it just comes natural to be super critical of ourselves anyway, so when the slip up happens, we go right back to what we were used to doing ... hiding those emotions.
The way I look at it now, is that it is just once again my dark passenger trying to lure ourselves in that same hole we had become so accustomed to, but managed to get out of.
So alright, lets say we make that mistake and use when we have tried so hard not to. The fact of the matter is, at that point the shovel is just placed in your hands. It is completely our choice if we decide please our own dark passenger and dig that hole for ourselves. So from there on I believe we have two choices we can make.
- We stay critical of ourselves, please our dark passenger, and dig that all too familiar hole of darkness that is agonizing to get out from. OR
- We realize that as addicts, and just like EVERYONE else, we are not perfect. We slipped. We caught the shovel our dark passenger tossed in our hands, BUT all we have to do now is just drop it and walk away.
Picture By: Kelly Sikkema on Flickr
Mistakes are made everyday, but lessons come right after those mistakes. I myself have a good talent for being overly critical of myself, but when I think about it as a kind of situation I just described up above, my mind starts to be at ease much faster.
Sobriety takes time. Sobriety takes practice. Sobriety takes commitment. Sobriety takes strength.
None of us are failures. It bothers me when I hear addicts talk about themselves that way.
No, we are all part of the force that won the battle against our addiction. The war might continue for quite some time, and yes, just like in any war we might gather up some battle wounds. So relax, let the wounds heal for some time, and get right back to the fight.
You are all some of the strongest people this world has to offer. Just in order to see that, that fog of negativity we constantly immerse ourselves in needs to be evaporated for that message to be clear.
Stay strong fellow bloggers.
And as always, much love.