Like a punch in the gut, I re-read a recent Tweet: "Some people relapse starting with 'It couldn't have been that bad,' when, indeed, it was worse. Healing papers over part of the horror.... "
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 of 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 dare not let healing paper over the horror of addiction's progressive descent.
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 hear 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 helpful to neither them nor those around them.
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 remain. Even the scars begin to fade. "Maybe I can drink again, now that 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 mor 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."
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.
Immerse yourself in my Descent into Addiction and eventual Recovery in my Autobiographical Fiction, ALL DRINKING ASIDE: The Destruction, Deconstruction & Reconstruction of an Alcoholic Animal
(Find it on Amazon. Book it here): https://lnkd.in/esP83n-c
Check out my NEW Non-Fiction, BECOMING UNBROKEN
#alcoholism #addiction #recovery #books: Reflections on Addiction and Recovery
(Find it on Amazon, Book it here): https://lnkd.in/dkF767RT