Friday, April 30, 2010

Cosmic Buyer's Remorse, or is it?

What is happening at the ranch these days is unprecedented. Each week, for the next 14 weeks, we will have a graduation. Last year, there were about 15 graduations total. I write to tell you this because I have so often detailed in the blog the dismal rate of success and it appears, at least with the current group, that something is working.

All of the guys I came in with, the guys I have written about for the past year are graduating. There is a buzz on the ranch, a sort of excitement about this. I admit, I am excited, too.

The first was Andrew who graduated today, and I am near the tail end of all this with a graduation of June 18. It’s exciting to think that I am getting on with the rest of my life. The next 6 weeks are going to be miserable for me because I want it to be over. I’d like it if I could just leave here right now, but I have made a commitment and I won’t.

But I was speaking to the head case manager (the head case-manager, not the ‘head-case manager’) and he said that my feeling is a good one to have. He said that when the ranch becomes a nuisance to me then it means that I no longer need it. This is great news!

There have been some staff members that are still convinced that any day I am going to leave. The fact that these comments continue to come from staff indicates that there are some on the staff that probably couldn’t do what I am doing, the fact that they don’t understand why I am going to stay tells me that perhaps they wouldn’t have the courage or the gumption to stay if they were in my place. I think their comments about an early escape are clearer pictures into the nature of their character and less into mine.

There is tension these days around me, however. I can feel it. I am short with people that never used to bother me and I am noticing that my relationships with people are becoming more and more polarized – two categories: People I will likely stay in touch with once I leave, and people I don’t care if I ever see again. Unfortunately, the latter group is larger than the former.

But this, I am told, is progress. I am assured that in my situation, this is a good thing. I shouldn’t need or want to keep too much of this ranch with me forever. I said it earlier, this is just my experience, this is not my life. Nor do I want it to be. I finished speaking to the last school this week, it was a bit of a sad day for me, but I took Matt and Chris out to lunch after because they will now take the school speaking project for the next year and make it something great, I know it.

A couple things are beginning to startle me. First is, I don’t have a lot of friends off the ranch, at least not in the area that I will be living. So I will have to make new friends. The beauty in this is that I can start each friendship with, “Sure I’ll go with you to Happy Hour, but I am not gonna drink,” instead of, “Remember when I used to be a stumbling idiot at the bar?” I can begin these new friendships as the kind of person that I want to be and I like that.

The other thing that is beginning to startle me is that now I have to really put all this training into practice, this is real life, this is the big leagues. Can I do? I think I can.

But this is what I really want to say about all this. Looking back, I don’t know what happened to my life or when I truly diverted from my path to head down this current road. I am a little pissed about it, I am a little sad about it. I am mostly mad that this will now, forever, become part of who I am. This isn’t who I ever wanted to be, ‘Roman, the recovering alcoholic” and for chrissake, it sucks.

I am pretty confident that in my new life, there will be people who will never know my situation nor should they have to, but I will always know it. Its not something heroic, like surviving cancer, or surviving a plane wreck. Its actually pretty pathetic when I think about it – and I am given lots of support and kudos on conquering this and you would think I’d love it, but it kind of disgusts me a little bit – not that people care, but that THIS is why people are proud of me.

I can tell you one thing, as I look at the past year one thing stands out to me. Whatever sadness I felt before I came in here, whatever emptiness I felt that made me run to the comfort of a bottle is still there and I never accomplished fixing that. I don’t think I even addressed it or figured out what it is. Nature abhors a vacuum and when I came to the ranch, the vacuum created by the lack of alcohol was immediately filled with new wonderful friends, with new opportunities, with the rediscovery of the person I loved being. But what caused the great soul ache in the beginning?

Still don’t know.

So what does my recovery look like? Well, it appears to be a steady stream of distractions and possibly never a cure. In a sense, it appears that I will be on a constant struggle to outrun this by filling my life with a series of mindless things that will occupy my time.

I mean, I have to ask, is that what you all do? Is that what your lives are like? Are those of you who read this just running through life occupying your time until the day you crap out and die?

So I have been giving this a lot of thought and I suppose what I am looking for as I wind things down on the ranch is some sort of validation that life still has some significance. I don’t think I am alone in wondering this, I mean, I want to know was all this self discovery and reflection worth it, and is it worth it, and to whom?

Do I just have is a serious case of cosmic-buyers remorse? And the only solution I can come up with is this, there are no guarantees in all this, no guarantee that I will be happier than I was before I came in. I think I was looking for a magic solution, that if I put in my time here, I would be suddenly whisked away to some wonderful new world where all my dreams would be realized, all my cares would leave, and everything that made me sad would be fixed.

The reality is that I am no closer to that fantasy land than when I came in. But now I can at least handle problems with a clear head and clear heart.

So this is where I am now. I know I often leave this blog with really great stories of personal triumph, but I am not always feeling like that. Sometimes it takes a minute for me to figure this stuff out.

But I have said once before that one of the things that I believe makes a person happy is having something to hope for.

So, at least there’s that.

Peace all, have a great week.

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