“We don’t reach the mountaintop from the mountaintop. We start at the bottom and climb up. Blood is involved.” ~Cheryl Strayed
I know one thing for sure. If I’m not willing to get uncomfortable, I’m not going to recover from the way I let other people affect me or the way I try to affect them. It’s the same for everyone who is in recovery, whether it is quitting smoking, alcohol, drugs, sex, overeating, controlling others, or any other addiction, it takes constant effort to stay committed to getting comfortable with being uncomfortable.
That is why recovery from anything is the most bad ass thing a person can do.
It is a collection of decisions made every day to show up, and take the action necessary to keep moving forward, even when it’s uncomfortable. I see the effect recovery has on others, and it seems to work like magic, but does it? Yes, it’s still magic even if you know how it’s done. It’s a practice that is learned and put into action. It’s becoming conscious and using that awareness to change.
I know people would rather read about the sordid, intimate details of an addict’s struggle to stop using, but I am telling this story from my point of view – one mother’s perspective.
My recovery from codependency always mattered as much as my son’s, an understanding which came late in my life. My perspective is from a mother who made a lot of mistakes, and needed help understanding the disease of addiction. I needed to know I didn’t cause it, nor could I control it, nor could I cure it. My need is for serenity, not sobriety, and to get rid of the idea that I alone can control and solve another’s problems.
My stubborn self-will prevented me from using the tools needed for serenity for a long time, because I thought I knew how to deal with everything alone. I thought I knew better, and frankly I didn’t want anyone else to know.
I hit my bottom when I had to set my security alarm in my house to try to keep my son out. It literally broke my heart. Broke. My. Heart. I sold my house, moved to the mountains, and got serious about my recovery. I started at the bottom of the real mountain top. By the way, Cheryl Strayed is my favorite badass.
What I know now is that a significant part of recovery is a shared experience. I am not alone in my pain, others have experienced similar suffering, it helps to join hands with them, and let them in.
I still attend weekly Al-Anon meetings when I can, as well as belong to an online group where I receive a meeting every day in my Inbox, with a topic that usually is exactly what I need. My sponsor came from the online meeting, whom I am going to visit over Mother’s Day at her home in Tennessee this year. She lost her daughter, about the same age as Cody, to a drug overdose last June. We can share our experience, strength, and hope, and maybe not suffer as much on Mother’s Day, if we are together.
It can be uncomfortable to reach out, to accept our loved one’s addiction, to live with discomfort instead of trying to fix it, to set boundaries, and to let go of outcomes. But, the payoff outweighs the discomfort. Life can be good no matter what the circumstances are, whether our loved ones are using or not, or whether they made it out alive or not.
We can get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Mary Cucarola – March 21, 2017