Learning to Swim. First30.

During my first30, I felt everything.  My emotions came flooding back like a hurricane.  I was sad from a friend passing that I was too drunk to spend as much time as I should have in her years before she passed from cancer.  I was sad from my dog that passed years before.  I was sad from previous breakup with my past partner.  I was sad for embarrassing things I'd done while drunk.  I was sad about everything.  Then, I started hearing people.  I started hearing their sadness and how it turned into other feelings.  Feelings of struggle and feelings of success.  I started hearing reality.  

A man came and spoke to us during rehab.  He was a recovering addict.  I believe he was a heroin addict.  But, as an addict you know that all addicts feel the same.  Any addiction is an addiction.  My drug of choice was alcohol.  That is what I loved from the first day I drank French wine.  But, if I did not have alcohol it would be Xanax or heck even Nyquil to sleep. 

This man was SMART.  Maybe I was feeling too much because of the withdrawals and grasping onto every ounce of survival I could.  But, he was an amazing hero of a genius that had all of the answers.  Let me tell you why.  He had no answers.  He admitted he had no answers.  He had experience.  It was painful and sad.  I believe he lived in his car and lost his family in a wreck at some point.  For 10 years he self medicated with any and every drug he could.  Then he stopped.  

The thing about addiction is that it ends in institutions and death.  Those are the options.  It will kill you unless someone locks you up first.  It could be jail.  It could be a hospital or rehabilitation center.  The lucky person gets caught before she kills others or herself.  

Well, let me tell you why this guy is a shining star.  He didn't pretend to have a degree in everything brain related to addiction.  He didn't claim to be cured.  He just understood and did not give leeway to people over-using drugs, even legal ones like alcohol.  We're always searching for the caveat.  The way to get more of what we want.  The way to control the situation that is uncontrollable.  He had the same two answers to every question.  

Question: "I am an alcoholic, but I plan to smoke weed. I do not have a problem with weed." Answer: "Pick another seat on the Titanic."

Question: "How can I get over the abuse?"  "How can I deal with the loss of my son?"  "How can I go back to work surrounded by alcohol?"  "How can I deal with...?"  Answer: "If you wake up in the middle of the lake, do you think about how you got there? Or do you start swimming?" 

It is reality.  If you dwell on problems of the past.  You will live in the past, the pain, the hurt, the reason you drink.  You have to live today.  You have to live in the present.  Anything that alters you helps you escape the present.  Succumbing to drinking or drugs keeps you treading water in the middle of the lake.  You can only tread water so long before you sink.  But, you can tread water.  I did for 15 years.  I got really good at it.  But, I started bobbing up and down.  Drowning.  Gasping for air.  I was sinking when I went to rehab.  I was drowning. 

The kicker is, the more you tread water in addiction, the harder it makes it to swim to shore.  But, if you start swimming, occasionally, you meet people who will throw you a life raft.  You swim.  Some people try to grab hold of you and you carry them or have to let them go before they weigh you down.  You swim. You get stronger.  You float.  You find a piece of wood from the Titanic and have to wave goodbye to Leonardo.  You swim.  It gets easier.  You start building a sobriety boat.  The water is not smooth all of the time.  It rains.  It storms.  You see people drinking on labor day listening to Jimmy Buffet.  You get hurt.  You swim.  You get better.  You keep swimming.   It feels good.  You see a shark.  It feels scary.  You swim.  

The other kicker.  There is no shore.  That is addiction.