(I read a post by Sherry at Maintain the Zen a few weeks ago, and it was just beautiful. She wrote a letter to herself, speaking to herself as a little girl. I guess it must have stayed with me, unconsciously, as tonight, without any provocation, I felt guided to do something of the same. I am always nudged in one way or another, even if I am unsure of where I am being nudged towards, as I am this. This is pretty much free form stuff, nothing planned or thought through. Which is why it makes it a bit frightening, but that’s a good thing. I need to be scared witless at times. Anyway, I thought I would do this as me visiting myself while at treatment. )
Yes, it’s me. You. Well, you know what I mean. Calm down…I can explain the space – time continuum thing another day. No, you’re not hallucinating. You got that stuff out of your system a few days ago, so just be glad for that. You’re already glad for that? Good. You’re going to be glad for a lot of things in your new life. And what was that? Yeah, I know, I know…just don’t eat chocolate bars for breakfast and it won’t get that big. Never mind that.
What? How long have I been sober for now? I won’t say, but’s its more than you ever thought possible. I know, I know…one day is more than you ever thought possible. But you’re at five days now. How does it feel? Never mind – don’t remind me. I am glad I am not you right now. Oh stop it – don’t take that so personally. I forgot how much we used to take things to such heart. Sensitive, aren’t we? What was that? No, we haven’t quite learned to completely stop interrupting others. Is that annoying you? Be glad that interrupting people is one of the worst things you’ll be doing when you’re on this side of the fence.
Look, let me just make something clear. I know that you think I shouldn’t be telling you stuff about what is going to happen. But regardless of what I say, things will unfold the way they need to unfold. Of course I will keep a few tasty morsels of information to myself, but that’s only because there are some things you will need to figure out on your own. Not a lot, because trying to figure it out all on your own got our sorry ass here in the first place. So just sit and relax. I will get us some coffee. Sit. Oh wait, sitting is hard right to do now, I forgot. All wrangled up on the inside will do that. Just stand. I will sit. You get the coffee.
I know you’re scared. We’ve never been in this kind of trouble before. And you won’t be in this kind of trouble after, if you do the things that you need to do to get and stay well. These days will pass before you know it. Don’t be concerned about everyone else right now. Our family is being cared for now. Friends and other family are holding them deep to their chests, loving them and cherishing them in ways that you haven’t been able to do so in a long time. Yes, I know you love them, but they are getting the connection that you never gave them. Fingers are gently combing their hair, their sobs absorbed and hearts opened up and wrung out. They love you but need to feel loved themselves…deeply centered, truly felt. Your time with them will come. Right now, it’s me and you and our Creator. Sit, Paul. Sit beside me.
All the things that you’re worrying about will eventually start to work themselves out. Not the way you may want them to, but they will work out. It’s not our plans anymore. Remember where you were a few days ago? Detox? That’s where our plans brought us. Letting go will be your thing. I know, I know. How can we do that when the weight of the world is on our shoulders? Trust me in saying that when we start to let go, the only thing our shoulders will be used for is tossing the boys around when they jump on you, cackling and drooling on the couch from laughing so much. Yes, I said boys. Plural. That will be something that will reveal itself later. Much later.
Focus on your recovery, Paul. Pull it in and look around you here: men, hurting, screaming on the inside, barely stitched together by fear and hope and chemicals and the chance that someday they won’t die in their own shit and lonely and rotting away because anyone that cared for them ever got pushed out of their lives. Like you were heading towards. We were. Look at you, Paul. Look. You’re no different than these other men. Get your head out of your ass. Look at these men now. You’re them. They’re you. You’re me. Love these men. Love them. Love them because I know you don’t love yourself right now and it hurts, hurts like claws ripping you from the inside, and you have love in you and just fucking use it because it will die and wither – just like you’ve felt yourself dying and withering all our lives.
Ok, let’s take a breather here, here’s some tissue. Have some more coffee. Good thing it’s decaf here. Triggers and all that jazz. Breathe. Now breathe again. Feel that? That release, that lightness, that feeling of being centered? You’ll be doing that a lot. I know meditation isn’t our thing. Or at least wasn’t, but it will keep you connected to the Creator – He who will take those thoughts of drinking away. Yes Paul…they will go. I know it’s hard to understand it, to believe it, but the day will come and I can’t even remember the day myself, that you will wake up and the desire to drink will vanish. Like a wisp of smoke, it will dissipate into the wind of our recovery and free us from the iron locks that keep you down now, anchored to the thing that wants you – us- dead. And the thing is, Paul, is that the thing that wants us dead will never die. It will be with us forever. The good news is that we bury it as much as we can. We get to do it. We do it. It’s happening slowly right now in you. You just don’t even know it yet. And that is how much will happen to us – He will work through us and throughout us and have no clue until whatever it is we need to learn or do is done.
All the things that made us want to drink – the self-loathing, the hatred, the anger, the fears, the lack of self-esteem, the lack of confidence…these things start to fade. They lose their power. We learn to deal with life. We move through our fears. We don’t have to fight life any more. We don’t fight people nor do we fight booze. We just handle the things that made us want to drink in the first place, and then poof – we don’t need to drink. Isn’t that a miracle? I can see you looking at me like I am insane, but I say this from experience – we grow out of things. And we grow into things. And we soar above what we think we are and we don’t get smaller, but we start to become who we were created to be, Paul. I still am on that journey, I am just ahead of you a bit, leaving you breadcrumbs and little signs to let you know where the booby traps are, where the snags are, where the dips in the road are. But you will still hit those dips. You will stumble, and you will hurt. And yet you will become stronger, and drinking will be but a distant memory.
Here are some things that I can promise you. You will start to like yourself. You will break out of our old self-hatred. You will see yourself as He sees you. As others have seen us – a caring and loving man. A devoted man. A man who feared his sensitivity, his resiliency, his strength, his talents and his capacity for love so much that he turned those things against him and split himself into two, and fed the beast of negativity and denied the gentle soul its nourishment. We learn to nourish and heal ourselves after we put the bottle down. That’s part of the work. One day you will be riding your bike home and will be guided from within to sit on a bench and you will cry your eyes out for our old us. You will cry and thank God for Him and you will forgive yourself…because you will come to see that you’re not a bad person, a horrid being, a stain on humanity. You are who you were meant to be and you will cry for that man and grieve that old us and then it will pass like the hazy lights through a tunnel, like fireflies passing through the trees and etching their fading glow onto the night sky.
You will learn from others, and you will learn from those you never expected to learn from. The haters, the doubters, the tormentors. The places you used to run from within yourself you will face head on. You may still run at some points, but you will still be facing things. You will not be perfect. And please, please, please stop thinking that you can be. We tried and it didn’t work. We still think we run the show at times, and we suffer for it. We still think at times that we can drink normally, but we know in our mighty core that it’s a lie. We are done with the drink, Paul. That chemical romance is no longer. But we have other things that will come up in our life that will make the bottle pale in comparison. Like working with others. I know, I know…I didn’t like others either. But believe me, our stripes change.
You will actually like working with others, helping others, being with others. It’s the stuff we resisted for a long time. I remember being in other people’s company was torture. It won’t be like that anymore. Being of service will make us better people. It still works for me. You won’t look at people as scourges wanting something from you anymore. You will find your connection with men (yes, men) and women will change. We no longer fear either. We don’t feel disconnected to the human race. We will go out of our way to feel the depth of belonging that we have always craved, in the same way we craved the alcohol. Our depth of connection to a greater power out there will keep us afloat.
You will see people come and go, Paul. Remember that. People you feel strongly towards will fall by the wayside, never to be heard again. But that’s the power of this illness. All I can offer to you is to love fearlessly. You will be hurt. I still get hurt, but I know that is part of the journey. We love without any reward other than loving for its own sake. It’s the blood that keeps flowing through us, and as you open yourself up to it, and the the simple things in life that feed and keep that blood flowing, the stronger we become. And the better condition we are to open up to others. The cycle will continue to grow. And so will we.
I have to get going shortly, Paul. I was told this was to be a quick visit. You’re here for twenty one days. A lot is going to change in those twenty one days. I can’t say how I was sent here, but you will intuitively know this later on. But there are some little things you ought to know…just little helpers:
Don’t compare yourself to anyone else. Don’t let things sit with you for long – talk about it with someone. When faced with the fork in the road, take the tougher path – it’s more rewarding. Give of yourself even if you get hurt. Play fair. Eat well. Love fair. Give well. Keep a teachable mind. Don’t shirk or shrink from others. Set boundaries and stick to them. Play. Don’t take yourself so seriously. Take your recovery seriously. Pray. Meditate. Smile more. Be honest – lies are hard to remember. Move through your fears. Carve some laugh lines.
And finally, listen to that voice inside of you that tells you what the right thing to do is. It’s always correct – never wrong. Do what it says, even if it sounds silly or small or inconsequential. It all has consequences.
You matter, Paul. You matter, you are worth it, you are loved, you are meant to be here and you are deserving of this. I know you don’t feel those things, but I do. And do me a favour. Spread the word to others. Spread hope. Spread love. Spread joy. Carry the message. Maybe even write about all this stuff…even if no one reads it.