I don’t know about you, but there are days, weeks, months even, that I have very little recollection of. Most of my drinking and using involved black outs. I never understood what the problem was… I had this theory that if I didn’t remember something happening, it just didn’t happen. I would never address it. There were questions in my mind of what exactly had happened when people were not around… even if people were around, I questioned what they told me. I was never present, mentally or emotionally. To go along with these fine black outs, there are moments in time that I wasn’t present physically.
I spent a number of years going to family events but never really participating. I may have tried to seem like I was a part of, but I doubt that I was. My thoughts were frequently on when I would be able to go home and isolate myself while using. Other years, I was away from my family and simply didn’t make the effort to come home. Even if I had been able to financially afford it, I couldn’t physically be away from the drugs that long. Sure, I could have brought enough with me to last well throughout the trip, but they would be gone long before I hit the South Dakota border.
I missed out on holidays, birthdays and other celebrations. I missed going to funerals of family members I loved dearly. I lost friends without realizing they were no longer a part of my life. Everything about my time on earth revolved around drinking and using and how I would get that next high. Who could I manipulate for a little cash, who could I do some random yard or house work for? Was there something I could pawn or some job I could do just to survive the next 24 hours? These questions rattled me everyday because the thought of getting clean and sober seemed impossible. Until it didn’t. When I made the decision to get sober and, God willing, stay sober, things changed.
My thought process changed. I began to see there were other things to concentrate on. Rebuilding my resume, I got myself a job. I learned how to balance going to meetings and working full-time. Now, I balance meetings, full-time employment and being a full-time student. I get to throw service work and a social life in there as well. I remember in the beginning saying, “I have to go to a meeting” and a friend would gently remind me, “You GET to go to a meeting”. Those are the little pieces I am thankful for today. I GET to do all these things. More importantly, I get to make up for lost time.
If you know me at all, you know my family and my friendships are incredibly important. They are by far the most important relationships I have outside of my connection to a higher power. My family really got the raw end of the deal when I was in active addiction. I never paid attention to anyone’s emotions, needs or feelings except my own. Now that I am in recovery, I am capable of seeing other people’s needs, wants, desires. I get to be present AND participate in their lives.
I can go on trips to see my sister and her family. We can spend days at the beach or shopping… or watching WWE with my nephew. Hell, we can do that from different states and talk about it over the phone. I am blessed to see my nieces’ and nephew’s sporting activities here. Basketball and baseball season allow me to be busy while cheering them on. Watching another one practice gymnastics and yet another learn how to walk and talk and navigate this life… It’s all a blessing. Being able to participate in holidays and birthdays is huge. Seeing someone smile when I walk into the room is humbling. Never before did I realize that my attendance and participation mattered. I don’t say that to sound egotistical, I say that because it’s true, for all of us. Our families, friends… they just want us well. They want to see us as much as we want to see them.
I remember to be cognizant of the fact that as much as I want to participate, sometimes I can’t. There are events I don’t get to see because I’ve made other plans with friends or recovery activities. Sometimes its homework or work that keeps me away, but I do my best to take part in the happenings. The most important thing I try to remember is holding true to my commitments. There are days that I simply don’t want to go to that concert, hang out with my friends, do that service work… But, if I made the commitment, I do my very best to always be there. Part of my amends to my friends and family is making up for lost time. It remains a work in progress. Just like me.