On May 3, I celebrated three years clean. As I wrote in Kinda Celebrating, I tend to be hesitant at best about really getting into the marking of personal milestones, but thanks to a nudge from a recovery friend I did at least go out to lunch with a few ladies.
I’m writing about it here, too, because I need to cut through all of the things I’m currently struggling with and remember that being here to struggle with them is a result of recovery.
If I lose my recovery, I won’t be worrying about my financial future any more. Other people will do the worrying, and I’ll go along with whatever they decide because it is far too much effort to think. Also, it’s not as if retirement is likely to be much of an issue…
If I lose my recovery, my parenting challenges will all go away. I won’t have to struggle with finding the best ways to help my daughter, or struggle with having the discipline to do so consistently. When I am high enough, I’ll be oblivious, and when I’m not I’ll lie paralyzed in a morass of guilt. Other people will help and guide her. Or not.
If I lose my recovery, I’ll also lose those uncomfortable relationship issues. Working on my marriage, repairing old friendships or building new ones, changing family dynamics…are you kidding me? Active addiction will fill my life, along with the denial, rationalization, self-pity and escapism needed to maintain it. The version of me it will create doesn’t do relationships.
If I lose my recovery, I won’t be worried about gaining weight, or about my shoulder. I’ll just throw down some pills and try not to think about it, and my body will do whatever it does. When diabetes sets in again, or my liver begins to fail, I’ll feel sorry for myself and sing the victim aria I used to know so well.
If I lose my recovery, I won’t be lying awake thinking about all of these things, and being afraid that I can’t deal with all of them. I’ll be on my hands and knees on the floor, scavenging through piles of books and filthy laundry hoping to find a dropped sleeping pill on the dusty carpet.
If I lose my recovery, I won’t be frustrated about what to write next on this site, or feel stuck about my next poem, or wrestle with discouragement about the worth of my writing. Because there won’t be any writing. No essays. No poems. No quirky metaphors. There will be silence.
It isn’t easy to remember where, and what, I was three years ago. And it isn’t easy to realize that some of the things just three years of recovery have brought out of me might be locked up inside the newcomer, silently screaming.