Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Goblins coaxed me out from the storm......

There was point on Saturday when I got a text message from Brian that read, “How is your banquet? Ours is simply maaaahvelous,” and I had to laugh out loud because I could totally hear his goofy voice behind the characters on the screen.

Last week, Brian ran a half marathon – 13 miles – and he did it in about 2 hours. This is an amazing situation because as he was giving me a play by play of his triumphant crossing of the finish line, he remembers that last year, on that day, he was in jail – with absolutely no plan as to what he was going to do once he got out.

He had been arrested at his home, and taken to jail, and consequently, his land lord evicted him while he was locked up and Brian had no idea where his stuff was or what he was going to do, or where he was going to live if or when he got out.

But this year, he marked six months of sobriety with a 13 mile dash. He won a medal and went to a banquet the following week where he had dinner with two Olympic runners.

I was in the city with Curtis and Lane – we were invited to an election primary kick off for a sitting US Senator. It was a private and quaint event where we spent a leisure afternoon hob-nobbing with active members of the Democratic Party in our state.

And what struck me as relevant when I received the simple text message from my friend across town was the idea that here we were, a typical Saturday evening, four alcoholics – two of us recovering from well established drug addictions as well (not me) – and we were having dinner with Olympians and Senators.

You know, you hear all the time about how your life opens up considerably when you can let go of what is holding you back – but it always seems like some stupid motivational poster you might read on the back of an 11th grade class room or a employee lounge, and when it happens to you in a flash you might just miss it if you aren’t looking for it.

Curtis was a nervous wreck and sick to his stomach. Brian couldn’t eat. Lane was so quiet he hardly said two words the whole night because he was almost frozen.

But there it was. And I got to thinking about it – the fact that these situations are opening up for us and I think that we, as addicts – hell, as people, get so used to living life under a black cloud that THAT also becomes part of our addiction. Its almost as uncomfortable for us to walk out into the sunlight again – it literally made them sick.

And we spend so much time in rehab releasing ourselves from past failures and so much time trying to understand how to avoid failures, but so little is spent on how to handle success, how to handle when we decide that life shouldn’t be lived under the shade of a cloud of misery – when we walk out from under it.

We expect it, we plan on it, we count on it, but we aren’t shown how to really deal with it. This presents a problem because it can be stressful, and this can lead to a relapse – the relapse of success – now wouldn’t that be horrendous.

It’s a new role we have to assume – the role of a successful person, a clean and sober one. This is only in addition to the roles we already have – the role of husband, boyfriend, son, brother, uncle, friend, these are roles we accept and it is our obligation to be the best one of these we can be – sometimes it isn’t all about us, sometimes we need to be the best in these roles because we expect others to be the best in THEIR roles to us, and hell, fair is fair.

And I wrote a few weeks ago that I was troubled because we were trying to define a relapse – and what I, personally, decided on is this - if I engage in any activity that makes me forget my priority (remember the FASTER scale refresher: Forget priority, Anxiety, Speeding up, Ticked off, Exhausted, Relapse) to be the best [insert role here] I can be, then that is a relapse. If I engage in a behavior that takes me down a path that may lead to an activity which takes me from those priorities, well, that would be a relapse.

So, if I smoke a cigarette or gamble – probably not a relapse. If I smoke a cigarette and this makes me decide that I don’t want to run and stay in shape, which makes me lazy and irritable, which makes me far from the best boyfriend I could be, well, in that case – that would be a relapse.

It seems simple, but its not as easy as it seems.

In any event, I am going to be home this weekend, spending time with my sweet little dog and seeing my niece and nephew in their costumes – probably for the first time ever (I usually had drinking and party plans on Halloween and don’t recall spending time with them while they flaunted their costumes – I kind of owe it to them, don’t’cha think?)

I won’t be in the company of Senators or Olympians, no, instead I will be in the company of some truly important people – possibly a goblin, possibly a princess, I don't really know just yet, four nephews and a niece – and I have an obligation to be the best uncle I can possibly be. And this is what makes rehab worth it. It’s cool to be out from under those dark clouds this year.

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