10 December 2020

THE SOLITARY CONFINEMENT SCHOOL OF RECOVERY

 

(in-housestaff.org)

This is NOT the Solitary Confinement School of Recovery. I wouldn't recommend that approach to anyone. 

(Fade to):

I've heard mothers and sons, father and daughters, co-workers and friends (and many more) be thankful, expressing their gratitude that a friend, lover, relative, whomever, has been arrested for their drug and alcohol-related behavior. "At least they will be safe there. Safer than the streets anyway." 

Go ahead, Take a moment. Think of the innumerable ways in which someone might be better off behind bars than on the street.

Should it be called Jail or Prison? I've heard discussions describing the difference between Jail and Prison many times over the years, but I'd like to go back one step further.... 

PENITENTIARY: This is the Grunt, the Nudge, the Origin of what I want to say from my Safe Distance in Long-Term Recovery. When I hear "Penitentiary" I think of a Place of Penitence and am reminded of Grade School: "You know what you did is wrong. Now go sit in the corner and think about what you did!" 

(My Opinion): The entire Criminal Justice System's Treatment of Addicts is in itself Criminal. Instead of Justice, we should be seeking Rehabilitation for Addicts. Helping them, not Punishing them. That would be Justice. The way things stand now, when a Drug Offender is released from Jail or Prison, Relapse back to their drug of choice is almost a given (No Big Surprise if that should happen, is it? "Now go sit in the corner" is equivalent to "Nothing changes if nothing changes.").

OKAY, JIM! GET OFF YOUR SOAPBOX! I know, I know. I've never been to prison, so what DO I know? Aside from cleaning the holding cell for the County's drunk tank as punishment for Public Drunkenness, I don't know much. But the PRISON of ADDICTION, I can speak on that at length, but won't (Thank Goodness). What I do know is this: I could not get sober alone. Every time I tried to get sober alone, I ended up drinking alone (within hours, not days later). 

I HAVE LEARNED TO LOVE THE MESS THAT I ONCE WAS! The circuitous route from him to me is how I became who I am today. I couldn't be friends today with who I was back then. He would be too toxic for me, too dangerous, too hot to handle. But with my kid gloves on, I've coaxed myself to let love in, to trace the threads of change, woven and interwoven, to embrace my past as I continue my path forward. 

SO, OLD ME, EVEN YOU HAVE A PLACE AT THE TABLE! How could I not love the me that was? After all, he brought me to the doorstep called Today. 

I was not a pretty picture in my Early Recovery. Luckily, I took notes back then as a way to get a hold on myself. On shaky ground, one of my early notes read: "Gripped with fear, my anxiety attacks return. My fears have been spelled out in the nightmares others are living. My drunk dreams explain me. I feel separated. Night sweats, drunk dreams. Like a wild locomotive with no breaks. Noise- white noise, black noise. Adrenaline. A drunken grip, my drunk dream holds onto me. The nightmare reality of what reality was like, insane drunkenness. The abyss of drunkenness. Anxiety unbound.... "

I WISH TODAY I COULD HAVE OFFERED HELP TO THAT PERSON I ONCE WAS. (Early on, the only giving I could give was my insanity. I was lost and would still be lost without the help of others who had gone through similar living nightmares. 

REALITY CHECK! The person I was then would surely reject me as I am today. It's a complex puzzle piecing together a life in recovery. To learn to use the love I have remaining, broken and healing bit by bit may be the best that I can ever do. As I've said on other occasions, helping others is a Win/Win. It's all part of becoming whole again- for everyone in Recovery and the people in their lives around them who must also learn to heal.

WE HUMANS ARE SOCIAL ANIMALS. Addiction separates us from ourselves as well as it separates us from others. THE SOLITARY CONFINEMENT SCHOOL OF RECOVERY is Cruel. PERIOD. Rather than Punishment, were the ball in my Court, Prison for Drug Offenders would be replaced by Rehabilitation and Recovery.*

*****

Back to my opening paragraph, where I paraphrased the Chorus of Grateful Voices, happy, in part, because the arrest of their loved one has slowed the damage that addiction causes (if only for a day, maybe more): 

"At Least They Will Be Safe There. Safer Than The Streets Anyway." 

Although that may be true, let me end with a favorite quote, a Bulgarian Proverb: "You are permitted in time of great danger to walk with the devil until you have crossed the bridge."

CHANGE IS COMING. CHANGE IS ALREADY HERE.

Do Not Confine Yourself in Solitary. Confide in Others. Refine Your Recovery. Find Sober Solitude and Belonging. Strong Roots and Wings to Fly. Recovery is Possible, Doable, Irreplaceable.

*****

*[I have another post about how important language is in addiction and in recovery. Stigma abounds. In my area, Atlantic County, New Jersey, they changed Drug Court to Recovery Court and the change of that one word has been incredible. Which looks better on a job application, Drug Court or Recovery Court? CASE CLOSED!]

#alcoholism #addiction #recovery

*****

"Nothing matters more than that we remain sober because when we remain sober everything matters more.
*****

You may also enjoy my Autobiographical Fiction, ALL DRINKING ASIDE: The Destruction, Deconstruction & Reconstruction of an Alcoholic Animal  

On Amazon.com. Book it here: http://amzn.to/1bX6JyO 

5,900+ Recovery Tweets here: twitter.com/jimanders4 

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