Today I feel a strong tugging on my heart to talk about addictions. I think for most of us at some point in life we fit into one of two categories:
1. We are or have struggled with addictions or
2. We love someone who is struggling with an addiction.
For me, I can say I fit into both categories, when I was younger I struggled with drugs, today I struggle watching people I love battle with alcohol or prescription drugs. It tears my soul in two. I feel so helpless in the lives of these people I love dearly. I am sitting watching the events play out and all of us involved are powerless to fight off the thing holding our loved one captive.
It tells them sweet lies, it whispers to them they will not hurt anymore. It promises numbness, and for a brief moment the wounds that drove the person into the arms of the poison are blurred but only for a moment…Next, the tears and the yelling, the shame and the guilt that will take them deeper into the bottle.
It steals the person we love taking them farther away each time they choose to dance with their addiction while we wait to pick up the pieces when the bottle falls and the glass breaks, tiny shards of a life being destroyed. We talk with them, we tell them they are loved, we don’t understand why they can’t see the truth.
My fear is that I will lose the person/people I love, at times I feel as though I am not doing enough to help them. But how do we help when every attempt only pushes them farther away? A part of me knows from my own struggle with drugs that the change has to come from within…You have to believe that you are uniquely special with a purpose all your own. You have to want to live and feel each emotion in a healthy way but most importantly you have to let go of the past.
My addiction was driven by the negative thoughts about myself I had formed form my childhood, my parents’ divorce and the belief I was nothing more than a mistake that no one would ever truly love me. I was a homeless 17 year old girl who had no hope, no home, no family, or at least I thought this to be true. So I set off hitch hiking with the hope that someone would pick me up and end my young life for me. I was strung out on meth and LSD… wow looking back now I am surprised I lived through this time in my life.
I was in the San Francisco area and it didn’t take long for me to get my first ride. It was with a wonderful young family they took me to the edge of town. In fact the next several rides came from only nicest of people and soon I found myself in Wyoming. It was a warm Indian summer and I was sober for the first time in a long time out under the big open sky. The air was filled with the sweet smell of grasses and a warm gentle breeze made my skin tingle. My good luck with rides seemed to have disappeared. There was not much traffic on the long stretch of highway so I walked and walked and walked. I remember being so tired and I felt so alone and I had no drugs to mask these feelings, I had to face my life with a clear head.
I broke down; I feel to my knees in the tall grass along the side of the road and cried. Tears like a river flowed from me, sobs so deep from within me I felt as though my heart had become a tomb deep in the earth. I didn’t want to hurt, I longed to be loved, I wanted to be that little girl playing with her sisters under the warm Nevada sun. How I longed for what was no more, I kept looking back and this kept me from moving forward.
I don’t know how long I sat there crying, all I know is it felt as though every bad thing I carried in my soul was pouring out… and the earth beneath me drank it in. I looked up and down the highway. I had no clue where it went and what was ahead of me. In the distance a cloud formed and moved toward me. It was as if this cloud was alive, I couldn’t take my eyes off it. I stood and I was in awe when I realized this cloud was made up of butterflies!
So many butterflies all flying right toward me. I had never seen anything like this but it is one of the most breath taking moments of my life. Their bright orange and black wings filled the air. Then I noticed how the traffic on the highway had picked up and the rush of the cars was making it hard for the butterflies’ flight. Some of them were blown down to road, tumbling until they could gain control of the wings and take flight once more.
It was then a soft voice/feeling washed over me, “Look at how they fight to live, and how you choose to give up. Just like them you are my beautiful creation and you are worth so much.”
It was then I knew that the journey ahead was long and at times I was going to be knocked down but life is a gift.
I wanted to live.
I wanted to look forward.
I wanted to be happy.
I wanted to live with the courage of a butterfly.
I know that the ones I love who are struggling with an addiction have to find that same courage. I know I will try my best to be a light in the dark for them. Today I am giving up the fear that addictions can win, I choose to believe love is stronger. And no matter the outcome I will continue to embrace life’s seasons and to look toward the horizon for one never knows what beauty it may hold.