For those of you that know me well, you know that 2005 was a hell of a year for me. It was the year that I suffered through a massive paranoid episode brought on by an addiction to crystal methampethamine. Three years before, I had tested positive. For three years, I'd told no one. For three years, I increasingly used crystal meth as a way to avoid the shame, fear, rage, and personal loathing that I felt for myself. For a time, it worked. When it stopped working, my world came crashing down on a plane ride from Albuquerque to Minneapolis. That day, my life began changing for the better. I couldn't see it then...especially not when I was sitting in the emergency room and a dear and cherished friend tried to hand me a nutty bar, but the nutty bar was not the only nut in the room...and I refused it as I thought it had a listening device in it. I hit bottom so hard I bounced.
For a time I remained sober...but anyone that has walked the sober road knows that it is one that demands a lot, can be merciless, but has a great payout. I have had "slips." When I have slipped, I have had friends that showed me tough love but deep love and helped me along until I could help myself along again. People like David C., Pookie, Kandace, Coya, Quiana, Susan, Cathy, and others saw me struggle, let me struggle, and loved me as I struggled. Others, for reasons of their own, rendered judgment and made decisions accordingly. It comes with the territory.
I am now happily sober and have been for some time. Lord knows that living with Attila the Ex should have pushed me over the edge and into a drug induced coma...but I can happily say it hasn't. I feel spiritually and physically the healthiest I have ever been, which is a testimony to the love and care I have received, and I hope I have given.
Yet, from time to time, uncomfortable reminders of that past pop up. For a long time I have forced myself to sit with those reminders. To interact with people from that past that now are sober or trying to be. Or with folks that moved away or outright condemned me for my addiction or associated behaviors.
Unlike many recovering addicts, I sit in an interesting place. Some of the same people that wanted nothing to do with my recovery, have come to me with requests and demands for help in political organizing or other social capital needs. Out of guilt, shame, and a host of other negative emotions, I have responded. Other folks, with whom I started a recovery journey, turned to me for emotional support or dumping, and I listened and took it in. From these two groups of individuals, I have responded and given without any return out of a negative self sense.
I am cutting it and them out.
There are people in my life to whom I owe a great debt. People who, knowing the full ugliness of my addiction, still love me. Still actively love and support me. People who have asked nothing from me except that I do what is right and best and healthiest for me. People who turned to me in joy and peace and wanted nothing more from me than a smile and to be what the Creator put me on this earth to be. These are no softies. These are not people who coddled or cuddled me through it. They held up a bright mirror to me and reflected back all the best and beauty in me while allowing me to see the hurt and pain and understand that the pain is only shading to give the light great depth. If these people, who have asked nothing of me but to do my best to live life well and live with strength, to love myself, and to let myself be loved--want nothing more than that...then how should then I burden myself with the expectations and desires of those that are willing to take from me, demand from me, and give nothing in return.
Forgiving oneself for ones mistakes and the hurts one has caused is difficult. I have not yet found the grace with myself to forgive myself for the ways in which I have caused hurt to others. To sit in a circle and see the people you love the most in pain because you are in pain is devastating. To know that you have caused hurt to others that you can not take back or undo is back breaking. I write and talk and speak and share and hurt and love and cry and holler and rage and laugh through my writing, publicly, with great fear, but I do it so that maybe, someone somewhere that is carrying a heavy load can lay some of it down without walking in the places I have walked. My words are my way of airing out my wounds and letting them heal. It is a slow process. It hurts...it aches deeply in a way that transcends physicality. But it is a pain of healing and of growth. I will sit with it, but I no longer will sit with those that have played no part in the healing process.