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Next Life, NO Kids: Grace Changes Everything

June 13, 2017

Grace Changes Everything

I drink more than I want to, more often than I’d like to, against my better judgment, to forget the pain I cause myself and others when I drink. 

It's a complicated cycle, but also really simple.
I love drinking, too much. I just don’t love drinking too much.

At some point in my short, but glorious drinking career, I crossed some invisible line and could no longer, with any certainty, predict what might happen when I drank. It wasn’t always terrible, but when it was, it was really terrible

I have said and done absurd and sometimes hateful and perilous things while intoxicated. I have hurt people -- people I love --repeatedly.

Regardless of all the harm I knew I was causing, I never stopped loving alcohol. I continued to chase the illusion of "okay," even after I had (with my own bare hands) smashed it to pieces. It wasn’t a lack of awareness regarding the risk or trouble my drinking was causing that kept me drinking longer than I wanted to. It was because of it. I felt powerless over the pain and destruction, and I believed alcohol was providing me the only outlet for relief under those circumstances.

I didn't know I could change my life or feelings, because I was stuck in a vicious cycle-like vacuum. When I did experience sobriety, however briefly, the voices in my head got louder and the feelings I was exhausting so much energy to protect myself from fell out

I didn't know what to do with any of it. My only saving grace was the ability to scoop it all up and shovel it back down, in hopes of one more day of "okay." 

Because that's what it's like to live with trauma. 

Because I heard, "pain is mandatory, but suffering is optional,"and thought maybe I could avoid it entirely.

I'd get together with friends to have a few, relax, unwind (or forget) and some nights it would work. Other nights would start exactly the same way, but at some point I would find myself crying or fighting or running from some inevitable drama or chaos. The more of these nights I experienced, the worse my life and relationships got, and the more I needed a drink to feel "okay."

Addiction doesn't make sense to those who haven't personally experienced it, but also to some of us who have. It's not a logical thing. If you had asked me why I was drinking - even after whatever had happened while I was drinking - I wouldn't have been able to tell you; because I didn't know.

I just couldn't handle sobriety for long periods of time without a nagging urge for relief

Every day started to feel like survival -- like it was all just too much. I was so hyper-focused on the waves crashing over me, I couldn't see that I was swimming right into them. All I knew was that everything was really fucking hard -- all the fucking time

Survivors of trauma carry very special tool kits. It has taken much willingness and self-searching, hours of trauma focused therapy, and a shit-ton of pain and discomfort to slowly work my way through the tools in my survival kit. It has taken time, patience, and support from other people to weed through and determine which tools from my past are helpful and which no longer serve me.

For years after getting sober, I sought relief in unhealthy people, places, and things. It took a lot of mandatory pain to motivate my willingness to surrender and change some of my old ideas. My experience proves it is 100% possible to struggle in recovery.

Recovery doesn't have magical powers to make everything better. It is not a simple process, a book you can read, or class you can take. It does not have an end point or graduation day. It has various layers, levels, and degrees, and it comes in many shapes and sizes. It is not a cure-all, and just because someone is recovering from one thing, doesn't mean they're not suffering with fifty-five other things. 

Life is tricky. Apparently that's its job or something. Very few truly important things are ever easy, or as black and white as we'd like them to be. 

It took me years to even toy with the idea that I might be worthy of forgiveness and allow compassion to flow through me for the lost woman I was back then. It took me many more years to fully concede that I have always done the best I could with what I had.

Recovery has provided me with the tools necessary to combat the noise that once consumed my mind and convinced me alcohol was the solution to my problems. I have (more often than not) used these tools to handle situations in life that used to baffle me. 

I have those tools, and found recovery, because someone who understood my pain sat with me in it, and offered me grace.

a. temporary reprieve from feeling like the worst person in the entire universe long enough to realize I'm not, and forgive myself.* 
 *Altered and totally appropriate definition courtesy of Julie Maida. You're welcome 😊 

Other people pretending to know more about or judging my addiction and/or survival skills has never help me. I didn’t need anyone's assistance feeling guilty for not being ready to process my past and live up to Society’s expectations of who, what, and where I was "supposed" to be. I needed help learning how to respect and love myself so that my choices could match up with my own expectations.

Supporting someone with an addiction is never easy, especially when they won't just do what we want them to. Everyone deserves the space to find their path in their own way. 

Everyone deserves grace.

Sometimes all we can do for someone who is struggling is just sit still with them until they are ready to take whatever actions are necessary to change their situation. We don't have to push. We don't get to judge, and if we truly wish to help them, we can offer them grace. 

Because grace changes everything. 

Tweet: #recovery doesn't cure humanness. #grace can change everything. http://bit.ly/2s7zlF0 #addiction #trauma via @nextlifenokids

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