It’s all about me, but it’s not about me
It is said that a state of grace is not earned, but given. It settles upon your being, it fills the empty corners, and it moors you to the wharf in stormy seas. It is trust, faith, and serenity, all rolled up into something that words cannot tangibly identify.
Life get’s thick… When I was young, my friends and I would take the bus downtown to the city’s amusement park. It was filled with games and rides, and confections galore. One of the candy makers with the big picture windows that we walked by showed saltwater taffy being made. It was a whole machine set up, and folks could see the process all the way through. During that process there is a state of elasticity that describes the last few months of my life. It is that part of the process where it is almost completed, it is stretchy and smooth, but rips and holes appear in the workings. Life, and of course recovery are going to have those tears and openings appear, what is more uncommon is the complete failing of the ingredients into a crumbling mess.
An almost routine trip to the ER for antibiotics for a tooth issue led to an accidental overdose of steroids, that’s the short story. The long story involves immense pain, both physically and mentally, and the inability to find any rhythm of thought for a more extended period than expected. Existential thoughts of demise, and a hurricane that left my practicing lost, and the signposts that I put up along the way in a tatters were a part of this too. To be as close to literal as I can, I witnessed myself lose my mind, and somehow had the sense of being to anchor myself enough to weather the devastation. Still working through the damage, and clearing up the broken and uprooted signposts, utilizing my best tool in the process, writing, the long talk, the honest interaction with the universe. The ability to do so a blessing given by someone who held the light at the end of the tunnel when I became willing to ask for help.
I am an emotional being, more tuned to that part of us than what is considered the norm. Part genetics, environment, traumas, what have you, that part is at once the coin of my existence. The positive and the negative in a world full of things that flip the coin, spin it, use it as a screwdriver, and toss it aside in a jar. When the overdose happened I was unaware of all that was going on, I was then too worried about the physical symptoms, the bile filled chest cavity that made my heart staccato for hours, the binding and pain from my whole being. I remember laying there thinking I was going to die that night, unable to do anything else for it, thinking it would pass at any time. That was repeated for four days until I had enough and went back to the hospital. Since then it has been a slow steady march through medication compounding side effects, and the steroid flash flood that came with it. When the next trip helped my physical pains immensely, the damage from the medications to my mind were just making themselves known. I was a wreck to say the least, but I had the sense to know it, my emotions were on tilt, my head hurt, my body hurt, I couldn’t hold a thought for any length of time. I knew I was out of whack because I saw myself passing those signposts, or saw them uprooted as I tried to hold onto them as it was happening. The work I had done in the past an anchoring, so I used the premise of just not making things worse. The amount of work it has taken is hard to describe, not engaging with people in fear of what would come out of my mouth? Or how I would act? Frustrated anger and easily overwhelmed, I was snapping at things, I had a bad disposition, and became defensive. Through all of this I was aware that this was not necessarily me, but I also wondered why that kind of self was still around too? Maybe when someone who says they see the little parts of life that others may not, the missing parts of our existence; Pointing out that something is missing from your own equation is the way the message is going to get sunk in this time?
Over that time I have tried to capture what was going on as it happened, but the overall feeling I got was just to let it be what it was and step through it carefully. The thinking that goes into penning a piece, or fermenting a thought was broken up, easily displaced, and had attracted an attention deficit problem of its own. I knew that it wasn’t going to be permanent because I felt the recovery more than I saw it outright. The increments coming in such a small amount each day, it was going to take a while to save up enough to have a measured difference. It was a badly damaged area as I assessed the aftermath, the works of good mental behaviors tossed down like a library after an earthquake. I hadn’t lost anything, but the dewy decimal system would have to be completely redone. As I was resigned to this work ahead, life still happened, and the hundred or more little things that didn’t bug me before, that bug me now, also had to be put on the shelves in their suited places. Then, included in all of this were the larger bits of life, the security of employment and housing, overall health and wellness, and family obligations. It all decided to come for a visit and sit heavily on the psyche these last few months. The good part in all of this was the epiphanies that I had had, the almost prophetic warnings coming from my own introspect, my own practicing the practicing.
If I were a bit less practiced, or were shy a few years of sobriety, I don’t know how I would have fared during this time? I needed to know the things I learned just recently about myself to trudge through this is another input that came up. The thoughts and signposts are being cleaned up, much of the time I don’t know where the damage is until it comes back up in my interactions or thoughts. But it is important that I do the work to restore it as it happens, an extra tenth step, an active judo match with maladaptive thoughts. It is working, and it is different this time around, the extra cement going into the holes to hold the signs firmly where I need them to be. That cement is the stuff that came by way of this recovery that have always worked, an active connection to a higher power, the gratitude, the acceptance and the realization that there is always so much work that can, and should be done. That was what the anchor was made of as everything else took off in their respective trajectories. It is a comfort and grace that somehow was given when I needed it the most, and a reminder of how far the journey has taken me. This was just something that happened, it was as innocent as catching a cold, and I do not hold anyone to blame. It has been a life changing event, an introspect of the introspect, the workings of my recovery. It has given me a new outlook on self care and health, a shock to the systems that may end up doing good in the long run. Yet, I am forever changed as I watch my inner workings from this very new angle, the anchor gouging a little deeper into the bedrock.
The grace was applied through this in doing those very simple things that are suggested. I found myself in meetings, and applying fellowship at a higher rate than before. I remembered that there is a time of healing and self care involved in all of this, and the anxiety of where you need to be as opposed to where you are must be tempered. I found my higher power showing me purpose of being an example, as friends and acquaintances reach out for a solution to apply to their own stories of hopelessness. A purpose of being that has eluded me greatly in this world that has been explicitly changed. A reset in progress, a new building to design on this foundation once more. The glimpse into that still lingering mind, and the fearful destruction that would gladly take up my days, was a needed awakening. It allows a state of grace to be given, and the sails set once more on prosperous winds when the storms of life arrive. To thyself be true when to thyself be fearful.