Familiarity with Life and Death in Addiction and Recovery
Crawling into the rooms of recovery almost a decade ago, I thought I’ve seen enough death to last a lifetime. Little did I know, living a program of recovery would bring much more pain. Losing friends due to relapse, or the fellow addict never knowing the freedom of a new way to live. Old-timers dying clean after a satisfied recovered life. Recipients of long and thorough living amends leaving peace with their departure.
I cooked meals for my sponsor as she spent sleepless nights praying and sitting at her mentor’s hospital bed. Cancer had no concern that my grand-sponsor was an accredited bodybuilder. A beautifully, strong, independent woman crippled after 20 years in recovery. I cannot ease or relieve her grieving process which seems never-ending. I contemplate the inevitable and promised loss of my HIV positive sponsor. She reminds me “none of us are getting out alive.”
Before the young age of five I said goodbye to a mother and two grandparents. Today, I stand on the sidelines at those awakening to their parent’s mortality. The nightmarish hell of burying a child. Losing spouses to death or divorce; children’s eyes filled with confusion, abandonment, emptiness.
The adults that grew up fast, who have put their very own childhood six-feet under many years ago. The triumphant growth of working 12 steps and learning how to trust, nurture, and love. We become our own parent and begin to kiss, hold, and heal the child within.
Yes, I work a program of abstinence and perseverance on a daily basis. I understand my disease is one of life and death. For 29 years, death, suicide, and self-harm consumed my thoughts day in and day out. I could not fathom a life that I wanted to live. The gratitude and thanks I might experience just to wake up each morning were not my reality…yet.
Something changed, I began to feel happiness, I started having fun! Never would I have believed there was joy without the influence of a mood or mind altering substance. Enjoying conventions, retreats, traveling, fundraisers, service, laughing, and even crying. Making memories with friends and family. Creating the family I choose today. The trust, compassion, and love beyond all hopes of possibilities.
The disease of addiction broke my soul, encouraged fear, and murdered my spirit. Diligently committing to a 12 step program; I am alive, I feel life, I experience life. The good, the sad, the laughter, and the hurt. One promise, FREEDOM. Freedom to experience both loss and life. Freedom to know pain and joy. Mostly, FREEDOM to feel alive. A new way to live, who would have ever thought? A life to live.
Trina K. W.