I was out with a friend last night who is newer to recovery. We were talking about the crazy feelings that you get when you are new. I told her that is normal. We are supposed to be crazy when we get sober. I mean why the fuck else would you be willing to do all the shit you have to do to get clean? I mean it is so much to ask, that most people never do it! Never even try...
Really there isn’t much that is asked of us to get sober. I mean, give up the life that you are currently burning to the ground, hurting everyone you love and that loves you, and trade it for one that is beyond anything you could have ever hoped for...it is really totally simple. But as drunks and addicts, we make it super hard, so hard a choice that we would rather die than do simple, basic things to live the best life yet.
I have noticed this phenomena where people come in, especially in California, where there is lots of money and pressure to be “well” and look “well” quickly. I mean get your shit together people! But people come in and seem to get lost and swept up in the great urge to seem better than they are. Even when their lives are in shambles and they are on the verge of losing everything, I have seen these very people, come in with flames surrounding, hell their shirt is even fucking on fire, and in like a month, I over hear them telling someone else how great life is and how they are so grateful all of that “bullshit” is in the past.
Ok, from my experience, at 30 days, you can feel a lot better and perhaps even look better but you have not even begun to scratch the surface of the depth of your own depravity. Really. It takes years, like decades of work, a lot of fucking work, and Divine intervention to turn the tide away from relentless self annihilation.
So when my friend and I were talking last night and she said she felt crazy, I told her “good, you are supposed to!”
For me, anything less than feeling like your life is completely fucked and nuts when you are new is a great disservice to yourself and everyone else. It has taken a lifetime to fuck up your life, and it is going to take a hot minute to get you back on track, hell most of us never even were on track to begin with, I mean like ever.
I think there is value in staying sick long enough to get well. This "hurry up you are all better in thirty days" is a product of treatment centers and the world we live in. We are all in such a mad rush to appear better than we are, to include recovery. I say, “stay sick for a bit.”
I do not mean wallow in it and not do the work to move yourself forward. No, that isn’t productive and will likely lead you to relapse.
But for me, I am still fucked up all these years later. I still see that I am not all better. I am better, that is for damn sure. But I still suffer from alcoholism every day and I have to do certain things to ensure that the cancerous growth of my malady doesn’t grow back overnight and all day long to take over my life again. I must remain vigilant but also allow myself to tell the truth on myself even when it makes me look bad, isn't attractive and may be a huge warning to others. Sometimes the best service I do is to beat the drum of my own fuckedupedness.
I have seen countless people come in with their lives in shambles and talk to them in ninety days and they have moved in with the love of their life, got the new best job ever and everything is fucking wonderful. I pray for these people. Because maybe it all works out for them. God does work in mysterious ways. But what I see most often is a giant red flag that is waving behind the person so boldly and greatly that it is gonna swallow them whole. But they refuse to turn around and see it. So it fucking knocks them to the ground when they are so busy being newly sober and having the best life ever.
I wish getting well was an overnight thing. I wish that the demons of the past were easily put into check and then made to stay there. I wish I could banish all my self destructive tendencies and move forward in love and light and favor. But that is not my experience. The time that I spent as a crazy newcomer was time well spent. All the dinners and late night coffees where I shared the contents of my very fucked up head and heart saved me. I had permission finally in my life to just be the shitshow that I always was, but was too busy projecting this amazing image of myself everywhere to see just how fucked up I actually was. I am so grateful that I got to be a mess and whenever I tried to pretty it up and change the narrative, I had loving people who knew better that told me the truth and allowed me to not get too well, too fast. I stayed sick long enough to get well. I mean really well. (Well anything was an improvement from where I was...).
And some of you observing my life might question how well I have actually gotten. And I will fully own that I still am a shitshow warning far too often but, I am light years ahead of where I was when I came in.
I am grateful that I wasn’t fast tracked into health and wellness. I am grateful that the people that surrounded me gave me permission to just be sick and suffering while also giving me the tools, one day at a time, to get better.
Healing takes time. If you have a deep cut, it needs to heal from the inside out. If it heals too quickly at the surface, the disease festers beneath the skin, sending shockwaves of sepsis throughout your body until all of you is on the verge of death. Same goes for mental health in my opinion. Allow the wound to just be open for awhile, letting in some sunlight and love and allow it to heal slowly over time. Absent pressure and the hurry up and get over it already that is so prevalent in our world. We are sold and buy into the delusion that pain and grief and loss is something we can speed up the healing to marshall ourselves through the things we would rather avoid.
I have learned so much spending time with the illness within me. I have learned how much unwellness there is between my ears. I have learned how much I do not wish to live that way. But I have also learned that I do best when I am able to allow my illness to unfold slowly over time and learn to assimilate those rather glaring defects into my heart, body and soul. I do not have the power to fix me or unfuck my life. I have only the power to tell the truth about myself on myself and to grant myself permission to stay with the sickness long enough to allow myself to make a full recovery instead of yet another desperate attempt to lie my way into being better than I really am.
The truth shall set you free. I never really believed that before, but it is true. And what I have learned in my willingness to tell the whole truth about myself to others, sharing where I really am and how I really feel, I heal not only myself but them too. And that results in the world being a little less crazy for all of us.
I do not wish to stay sick forever, but just long enough to really see that which I am avoiding, pushing away and shoving down. If I can allow myself to just be still with my pain, anguish and disease, I can really heal from the inside out and then go out in the world and help another do the same. And that is what it is really all about, do the work on you, not so that only you get better, but so that your experience can be of use to someone else, and you are so distracted with helping them that you are relieved of your pain and suffering long enough to heal too.