I have been putting off writing and posting this particular article because it is depressing to write and could be depressing to read. The reason I decided to write it, though, is no matter how “dark” the situations and people seem to be, it is the reality of the disease of addiction. As I go merrily (most of the time) along in my sobriety, I often forget the pain and suffering that happens all around me due to alcohol and drugs. Along with that comes a powerlessness to be able to do much of anything to help someone who doesn’t want the help.
There are a few people and situations that I want to tell you about. I know all of them in some capacity ranging from relatives to a friend of a friend but please understand none of these are about “me”. What I mean by that is I am not so close to any one of these folks that I am in any emotional turmoil. Simply, our disease(s) are cunning, baffling, and powerful and if nothing else, read these for yourself if you feel you are up against a drink or a drug or share it with someone you love who might be trying recovery or on the edge.
Within the past few weeks I have heard story upon story of incredibly terrible things that have happened to people because of alcohol and drugs. Let me start with a relative who was hospitalized with acute pancreatitis. He is an alcoholic in his early 30’s. He is in total denial. When the doctor asked him how much he drank, he did what any good alcoholic does—lies! His mom talked to the doctors after and explained his problem but even she has no clue how much he drinks. He is going to die of this disease. He is well on his way. There is help available but he doesn’t understand why he would need help. The other part of this story is that his sister is undergoing a double mastectomy in a few weeks. I will pray for both of them but part of me wants to pray more for her. She is taking care of her disease. It doesn’t seem fair.
The other young man, in his 20’s, is a heroin addict. He has been in and out of sober houses for a bit. His father recently had a massive coronary and while in the hospital, the father and son cried for the days they had missed and the son promised he would get sober. The father is now home and recuperating. The son is now home because there are no more sober houses that will take him and so nothing changed because nothing changed. The next time his dad has a heart attack it will be over. He will also die of his disease.
A woman in her late 30’s that I knew a number of years ago in the workplace drove drunk one evening and hit another car. The woman in that car died. She is now out on bail but will be in court for vehicular homicide. She has young children and was in the process of being remarried. She will spend the remainder of her life in prison and her children will not have a mom. I didn’t know her well but was told she liked to “party”. She has not yet gone to trial but unless there is a real miracle, the outcome is dismal. And, another family lost a beloved daughter, wife, and mother.
Now this one is really bizarre and I never, ever thought I would know anyone like this but a couple my husband and I had socialized with a few years ago were found dead in their home. They were both very active alcoholics which is one of the reasons we stopped getting together. It was ruled a murder/suicide. I do not know 100% if alcohol was involved in the actual deed but if you were ever alcoholic enough, I believe you would know it could happen.
Lastly, a friend of a friend went missing. He had been sober for about eight years but was having difficulties since he broke up with his girlfriend of many years. The father finally called the police. They found him days later and his body was too decomposed for anyone to see. His wake was held in a pub. Someone didn’t get the message.
Sometimes being in recovery is bitter sweet. If I were not in the program I would not pay any attention to any of these people or situations above and even if I did, I may not connect the dots. When we are in recovery I think we are so much more sensitive to these situations and how they could have been avoided if….
The sweet part of being in recovery is that there is a special connection between and amongst all of us. My husband and I were buying a mattress last weekend. I have chips (tokens) on my key ring that were given to me through the years. I put my keys down on the counter and the salesman looked at one and said, “Is that a two?” I said, “Yes” but not wanting him to think I was too new, I added, “But I have a seven at home”. I then asked him, “Do you have any?” “I have seven, also”. That was it. When I left he said, “Congratulations”. I responded, “Same to you”. No one in the place had a clue what we were talking about. I will probably never see that guy again but for that moment he was my friend. If either one of us had been up against a drink, I believe neither one of us would have taken one. What a God shot that was for me!
So, my friends, the purpose of all of these unhappy stories (except for the last) is that when we drink or drug, we have no idea where it is going to take us. We know alcohol (and drugs) is cunning, baffling, and powerful and yet, so many forget. Forgetting for a brief moment could change our lives and the lives of others permanently. We are all sober today for the grace of God. We continue to pray for those who still suffer and sometimes that is the only thing we can do.
Namaste’. May you walk your journey in peace and harmony.
“Like” Grateful Recovery on Facebook. Kathy L. is the author of “The Intervention Book: Stories and Solutions from Addicts, Professionals, and Families” (Conari Press)