I finally got to a meeting room yesterday, one that made me cry to be in because of what it once was to me. Yesterday’s weather was overcast and grey, and few people were there, and not all the lights were on.
It was dim, dark, and despair-filled compared to the other times I had entered that room. And I’m glad it was, since that was a room where I mourned a program friend so profoundly that I wondered then (and now) if people thought I was 13th Stepping with him. Despite the anxiety of knowing I was walking into a room I’d abandoned years ago, it was the best recovery-minded choice I’ve made in years.
After being numb for so long, feelings came back and I had to sit with them. And I am grateful, so humbly grateful, that I went yesterday afternoon.
I wasn’t 13th Stepping with that program friend. If anything, we were kindred spirits as writers working recovery. How he worked program and his creativity (as a writer like I am) was gone in an instant. I knew what he was working on before he died, and I wanted that in the world. He was generous, kind, mindful . . . but he, like many of us, didn’t self-care well.
My eulogy to him here . . . well, looking at that date . . . I knew him for two years. In two years he profoundly affected my life and how I worked my program. And I see that I didn’t . . . shit, I didn’t ever finish mourning that loss. I know I can place when I started turning off toward relapse with that week when my program mentor died. I cried so hard for him, for me, for the loss of someone who lived the principles of program.
Vulnerability . . . intimacy that’s pure and human and not expressed sexually . . . being able to be friends with a man and not expect to use or be used . . . developing the ability to befriend a woman without feeling I have to compete for sexual approval . . . and in my hazy headspace, I am trying to wake up from this relapse nightmare.
I don’t feel clear-headed, even though I did get clarity in program. And I remember being . . . being so freaking broken by the news. On my third anniversary of abstinence, on a Sunday when I walked into the same room I entered yesterday and felt grief, I lost a program friend who I met the first time I walked into that room. And just like that first time, walking into that room yesterday was again a recovery gift.
Yesterday, I felt the relapse fully.
My mind really is hazy. I didn’t recall when he died when I spoke out my rambling and confused share. I didn’t really recall much. I had gone through some of my posts, avoiding seeking that one out, and I chided myself for being so naive. I didn’t want to feel the fresh Hell of losing him again. But . . . well, if folks believe in Heaven and that angels who were once human guide us to where we need to go? Then M— guided me into that room and allowed me to sit in that dim space. I walked in, sat down among the smallest group I’d ever seen in that room, unfamiliar faces all, and I started to cry. Not the heartbroken outpouring to the point I was sobbing silently because it hurt so much that I couldn’t make a noise over the calamity and unfairness. But I sniffled and teared up and decided that next Sunday I would take a couple of boxes of tissues in–like we had there when he was alive.
And I just mistyped something profound a moment ago. Instead of ‘when he was alive’, I wrote ‘when I was alive’. That . . . that’s something I have to sit with, I think. I’m not sure it was a typo but a truth that just got blurted out here.
So, I have an addiction-addled relapse mind right now. I’m sure you see it, too, since this entry is all over the place. I am as under water as I was when I walked into an OA room in September of 2009. And I have this . . . this knowing that it’s time for me to stop questioning how to work program as an agnostic-atheist. That it’s simple, even if it’s not easy. That here is where I’m supposed to do it. That what M— started with me should continue. That my struggles as a disbeliever of a will-guided deity, which he supported and encouraged, are progress that I can make right here.
What I wrote before I want to write here and now again, though I write it today with the humility I should have had the last time:
I miss you, M—. We all will, and I will do my best to carry your experience, strength, and hope forward to those who still suffer. You are the fellowship, and you will always be in my heart and mind.
Also, I want to ask that if anyone has an online program journal, religious or secular, to share it in comments. I expect most of the web journal links are for journals that have faded away like mine did.
It’s time for me to come home to program, to a life fully lived. It’s time to mourn this until my tears have washed away the pain, so something beautiful can grow there.
TEARS by John Vance Cheney (1848-1922)
Not in the time of pleasure
Hope doth set her bow;
But in the sky of sorrow,
Over the vale of woe.
Through gloom and shadow look we
On beyond the years!
The soul would have no rainbow
Had the eyes no tears.