It’s been a summer of love and loss. As I brace myself for the final week before school starts, I cannot help but reflect. Last Sunday, my beloved boyfriend left to live in VT for a new job. One of my very best friends is moving to Florida in September, for the next phase of his life. Two of my children are starting in new schools this year, I am going back to school (first time in 25 years), for an addiction counselor training program, and my oldest daughter will soon be headed towards some big changes in her life as we attempt to facilitate her higher education combined with support systems needed to stabilize her mental health. All these things are good and blessed, but all these things bring with them their own set of emotional baggage which seems to be unpacking all over me right about now. I also was not able to run. Running has been my treasured coping mechanism for years. It was a hardcore bummer when it was discovered after multiple doctor visits, that I have a tibial stress fracture. I think subconsciously or semi consciously, I perpetrated this injury to see if I could deal with the loss of my old standby obsession. I pushed and pushed and ran and ran and eventually, hurt and could barely walk. I handled it, not always like a rock star, but I stopped running. I also had hernia surgery. It knocked me down, the hernia surgery recovery did, my mindset being one of obscene denial of my age.
I started to read more to fill the void left by long runs meandering through the meadows and gallows in my head. Somehow, I find myself becoming a fervent learner. I have passionately immersed myself in following the addiction crisis in this country and the evolution of common understanding that we need better ways to handle what seems to be a screaming of the masses. What they’re screaming is that something in life, in our lives, in our country, is simply not working. I’d be a fool if I failed to see the connection between my own life and that of this outcry of the underbelly of society, the voice of we addicts, recovered, in recovery, active or passed on. I am learning. I realize I am one of the lucky ones, to be alive, first of all, as well as to have recovery, that is working. I have and had family and friends that cared enough about me to intervene and get me help, before it was too late. I am on my knees in prayers of gratitude for this yet there are so many who have the family and friends to help and still end up in the morgue. It again bangs home to me that we are no different, we are all connected.
I must see the addict as my fellow human, my fellow sufferer, someone I have been and may be again, I can accept the complete nonsense of behavior, the path of destruction that follows us and at least consider kindness. I know that in my life, at least in my head, I have been have been both the victim and the perpetrator, the abused and the abuser, the criminal and the innocent. I have done many of the same things, as those on the margins of society, in prison or still on the streets, caught in the cycle of addiction The difference being, my path was just directed differently, one small move and I would be one the other side of bars because Lord knows, I just got lucky. Or is it luck? It’s what I’m trying so very hard to understand. It is my belief we are put here on earth to learn, we all have a different curriculum and so in everything now, I ask myself, what am I supposed to learn? I don’t expect because I ask the universe or God for favors, that I’ll get them, more that I’ll just be able to accept. Anything else is a bonus.
It’s taken me my life up until the last few years to start to understand even a minute amount about love and loss and and of course if I had learned them earlier, I’m sure I’d have a much more lucrative position (a.k.a. fancy-ass job) in life, but it wasn’t in the stars this time around, and that is ok. I see so many who are less than content with far more than I have and many who have less and are more content. I’m getting it …plodding along, heavy footed and lumbering, toward a much greater sense of peace and freedom.
And love totally, hands down, wins. Connects us all and I know this I can try to remember that the triumph of an unsedated MRI for a boy with Tuberous Sclerosis Complex, is as much of an accomplishment as any that are earned by other typical 14 year old boys, it’s just his syllabus looks different, as does mine.
Yet…. i’ve stood there too, on the brink, the cliff, close to my jumping off point, at least in my head, many times. I didn’t quite go there. But what if I did? And for those that do, and leave so many behind, in pain, wondering if life holds any meaning when 16 year olds and 50 year olds, overdose on heroin or crash their cars into trees or hang themselves in their closets? Did their lives matter less? Are they completely a failure based on how their lives ended? I think not. A friend recently described to me the gift of remembering certain lovely things about her brother who she lost to addiction, and the way he had touched so many, despite his life’s burdens. He was on a different journey than mine.
So I must must must, remember now, it is in the moments when we smile at those with whom we come in contact, offer a kind word or open a door or even send a text with intentions of love, we have the opportunity to touch another life and in turn, enrich our own. We are all so worthy of this life we have, right here, right now and the more I allow myself to remain in touch with the ways I am broken…the more love gets in through the cracks.