Where’s Your Umbrella?

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Screen+shot+2011-02-03+at+5.46.40+PMWhen it rains, it pours. Figuratively. Literally. So, in the torrential downpour that flooded many parts of the community in which I live, I experienced something profound… my people, my friends, my family… they reached out as I panicked about the possibility of floating away with the roaring waters that overtook many roadways.

As I sat at a friend’s house, just miles away from my own home, I decided to ignore the weather man and head home just as any good addict or alcoholic would do. I mean, we always know what’s best, right? Ha. Wrong. But it goes to show me that even when I am working on my recovery and strengthening my faith, I often think my own way really is the optimal solution.

At about six months into this journey of recovery, I began to realize how little any of this has to do with alcohol and drugs. This situation proved to me again that I need direction and guidance in all areas of my life. Not just when it comes to drinking and using. Back to the story…

As I ventured out to drive the few miles home, I ran into an area that my little Black Betty just wouldn’t have made it through. A kind driver coming toward me rolled down his window and said, “Honey, You’ll want to turn around. There are cars stalled up there”. And so I did. I turned around and went to the only other route that crossed my mind. Seeing a manhole cover lifted from its normal position I clenched my teeth as I drove slowly around the area. Then, I stopped. Everyone behind me was forced to stop as well.

As the panic set in, not only for my safety and the safety of my family, I called my dad. He is always my go to guy in these situations because Heaven knows, my thinker is broken. Normally, in order to appease those cars behind me, I would have attempted to cross the pool of water in front of me. In good ol’ dad fashion he said, “You let those idiots go around you. You stay put”. And so I did. Thankfully, after quite some time, enough people had passed me or turned around completely, that I was able to maneuver my way off that street.

I watched as countless people trekked forward, stalled out and somehow got up and running again. I prayed that God keep us all safe. I watched police and rescue vehicles come in to guide and direct people. And of course, I updated social media. Hey, it gets boring out there in a state of panic. It also allowed me to laugh at the comments and know that I was going to be just fine. Sometimes I need more obvious reminders than the subtle ones God gives. That’s where my umbrella comes in.

umbrella I don’t mean the drug store umbrella (or a fancy one for that matter) that protects my hair and shoulders from the rain. I mean my umbrella of people. Often, I refer to this group of people as a village. They pick me up when I am down. Today, they keep me dry when all I want to do is sob in a moment of weakness and consternation. As soon as I expressed my state of panic, the comments started rolling in. Phone calls came and texts were received. Here’s the thing about that… That NEVER would have happened before.

I may have a bad memory, but I’m fairly certain that when I was drinking and using, no one paid attention because they weren’t aware of the true from the false. Hell, even I didn’t know half the time. I was always in a state of self-induced duress. No one could have helped me even if they wanted to. And I’m certain that at some point, many people did…. but when it becomes a constant state of dismay, there isn’t anything anyone can do.

As I returned to my friend’s house, I said, “I think I’m staying the night”. Her laughter irrupted as she said, “Yeah. Next time we listen to the weather man”. It never crossed my mind that this dear friend might not want me to spend the night. So, for a few minutes I battled with my ego. Asking her, “Hey, it is okay if I stay right?” she responded with “OF COURSE”! This dear girl made me tea, allowed me to do my tenth step there with her and made up a bed on the couch. I am incredibly grateful. The best part? We sat there for hours, talking about life, love, recovery and everything in between.

I have been given these incredibly beautiful souls that walk beside me, not in front of, not behind, but beside me on this journey. They provide me shelter from the reality of the storms outside and the pain of the internal storms that brew as well. There is a lesson in everything in life, and I am so grateful that even this silly little story about rain clouds, thunderstorms and rapid flooding can bring a new adventure and a new amount of peace.

Kylee Christoffels

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