Sunday, April 11, 2010

Fear


**Reprinted with author's permission. The original, and more of Angelynn's story, can be found at Here to Four.
My chest is swollen. I forget to breathe. My mind jumps from happy to sad, content to indifferent. I’m trying to make sense of everything that has come crashing down as I attempt to overcome depression and alcoholism. Am I unhappy? Am I ungrateful? Am I too naive to know the difference?
“Stop putting yourself down.”
“I can’t. If I didn’t, someone else would.”
“So the goal is to beat someone else to the punch?”
“In a way…I guess.”
“What exactly is it that is so bad?”
“Being absolutely unsure of everything. The nervousness I feel everyday. How quickly I can leap from feeling fine to the edge.”
“But what about your husband, your sons?”
“I love all three more than anything. But inside there’s this fear that I could lose them. That I’ll find a way to lose them. For a while I thought drinking would do it. Combined with depression I was pretty sure there was no way out. That it was only a matter of time before I was left to pick up the broken pieces of my life alone.”
“What happened?”
“I hit a wall. I was exhausted. I was becoming physically ill. I floated through life numb, oblivious, or raging mad.”
“Why didn’t you get help sooner?”
“Because I was addicted to the sadness. The feeling of hopelessness. The burning feeling in my stomach when I latched onto a memory. The feeling I have now as I try to figure out what to do next.”
“I thought you started going to AA.”
“I’ve been twice. I bought the book.”
“And?”
“I’m still figuring that out. I distract myself with so many other things I leave very little room for reflection. Yet I think about it all the time.”
“So you ignore the problem while thinking about it constantly?”
“In a way, yes.”
“How’s that working for you?”
“It’s not.”
“What now?”
“Back to the beginning. Even if I have to crawl, I can’t stand still any longer. I’m not healing if I sit here and learn nothing. If I make a point to not buy wine on the way home it doesn’t make me any less of an alcoholic. The urge is still there. The underlying tendency persists. If I can’t modify the way I function I won’t improve. I’ll stay right here, in my dark corner clutching an empty book rather than a bottle.”
“So you’re powerless.”
“Yes.”
“Vulnerable.”
“Of course. Scared, excited, and not quite ready to answer the next question. The one about God. Or as they say ‘God as we understand Him.’”
“So how do you understand Him?”
“I don’t. I’m 34 years old and I can’t define my own spirituality. If you ask me point-blank if I believe in God I’ll say no. If you ask if I believe in a higher power…yes. Of course I do. Can ‘His’ power restore me to sanity? Am I willing to turn my will and life over to ‘His’ care? Can ‘He’ remove my defects of character? Can ‘He’ remove my shortcomings? Will I pray for knowledge of ‘His’ will and for the power to carry it out?”
“Well?”
“I don’t even know how to start.”
“You could start by going to another meeting.”
“Then what?”
“Communicate. Reach out and ask questions. Don’t internalize this again. Ask for help. Accept help. Quit being so damn defiant and admit for once that this is bigger than you. That you don’t have the answers. That it’s not going to go away by turning your back and closing your eyes.”
“What if it doesn’t work?”
“Is that what you’re worried about?”
“Yes.”
“Well now we’re getting somewhere.”

2 comments:

  1. Angelynn- I also visited your blog, your boys and family are beautiful. I was in AA for seven years, relapsed for 11 years, and am now on Day 13 of my second turn at sobriety. I can relate to going to meetings and getting hung up on God. In the end, I simply gave up on God, and moved to god/spirituality, let go of Him, and substituted him-for-lack-of-a-better-pronoun. Now, when I think god, I internalize Grace. Grace is not a him or her, not a matter of believing but feeling. Grace is my safety net when I let go. You've inspired me to write a longer post, maybe for this board, because I hear a lot of people struggling with this and want to share my experience in case it helps someone.

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  2. I think it is amazing how we often take the scenic route to get to where we are going in our thougts and actions. You expressed your thoughts beautifully - thanks for sharing them with us.

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