SPOILER ALERT: Remembering the future that awaits all in continuing recovery is part of the gratitude I have for a future of sober tomorrows.
"Healing May Paper Over the Horror.... " I just read that line again and it was like a punch in my gut. It was part of a Tweet which reads: "Some people relapse starting with 'It couldn't have been that bad,' when, indeed, it was worse. Healing papers-over part of the horror...."
True or not, I've also heard that for an alcoholic like me, alcohol had hijacked the part of my brain that includes the instinct for survival. Whether this is science or hearsay is a moot point. At one point (and it lasted for years) I felt as if I could not possibly exist without alcohol and that my life would be meaningless without it. I felt like a passenger on a plane that had been hijacked.
If it's going to crash, give me another drink as it spirals downward....
Now happily living with many years in Recovery under my belt, the very memory of the fact that I once thought I could not live without alcohol seems laughable. I have to remember that clearly and in a healthy way. The (former) Relapse King (that's me) must neither forget how bad it once was nor diminish the long, hard road that has brought me to today.
I have also learned to appreciate the many other memory-related problems that others endure, such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, in which an individual gets kind of stuck reliving the distress of emotions and circumstances no longer necessary or actual in the present reality. Rather than remembering, relearning, healing and moving on, the memory repeats itself on an endless loop with little or no healing occurring. Clearly, I'm not a scientist, but I do have empathy for anyone who is suffering from or has suffered from PTSD.
I suffered severe anxiety attacks when deep in my addiction to alcohol, but my anxiety in that dark place was a repeating loop-tape of a painful emptiness too difficult to quantify. If empathy isn't the right word, then perhaps the deepest of sympathies better describes my feelings for victims of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. I've been somewhere near there.
Luckily for me, my pain relived has softened over time.
PTSD, for many soldiers is a maladaptive response to the horrors of war. The horrors occurred and continue to reoccur in a way that is not healthy for the soldier or for those around him or her. Healing done not quite right, still raw.
My Recovery has been about healing, too....
Normally, when a bone is broken, it heals, and the patient moves on. But in addiction, more than bones are broken. The healing is on a different level than strictly the physical (put aside damage done to every organ of the body, some permanent, some temporary). Sometimes the psychic healing is wallpapered over and the pains that addiction has caused wane over time (the built-in forgetter being sort of the antithesis of PTSD).
Again, healing done not quite right somehow.
"It couldn't have been that bad. I got over it." A person accumulates a certain longevity in recovery. Things may be going well. Perhaps too well. They stop picking at the scab. The scab heals and goes away until eventually only a few scars are left. Even the scars begin to fade. "Maybe I can drink again, now that all the debris of my addiction has been dealt with. It couldn't have been that bad." At some point in the healing process that idle thought is apt to occur to almost anyone.
There is no such thought allowed within my thick skull today.
It was that bad.
It always got worse.
Longer and longer periods of sobriety followed by shorter and ever more disastrous relapses.
I will not let the healing process of recovery wallpaper over the horrors of addiction.
Instead of wallpapering over the pain, I think I'll stick to reading THE WRITING ON THE WALL: "Make No Mistake. The Beast Inside is Sleeping, Not Dead [see illustration]."
Oh... one last little thing.... It seems to me that my healing in recovery has surpassed the healing of a broken bone. A broken bone can heal only so well, back to its original form, at best. Recovery, seemingly, has this patient better off than I ever dreamed possible.
This (former) Relapse King is Living Proof.
Remembering the future that awaits all in continuing recovery is part of the gratitude I have for a future of sober tomorrows. Let my memory of that, too, always remain clear.
"Nothing matters more than that we remain sober because when we remain sober everything matters more."
#Alcoholism #Addiction #Recovery
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