to get an eye exam!
Talking about being in recovery – the honesty in telling people you are in recovery – can be amazing. Naturally I have been reluctant to openly discussing with a stranger I am an alcoholic. That I live in a sober house; that I spent a month in a detox center before moving into said sober house. For one, in the past seven months, my only contact with people outside of the house has been at mandatory A. A. meetings. And I see my parents every other Sunday.
Everyone at the meetings, of course, has a problem! We are all part of a program. A Fellowship, binding us by the brutal reality we are damaged and diseased. There is no – or should not be – fear or paranoia of judgement.
The general public… talking to a stranger (a normal person, or “Normie” as I have heard some people in the program call them,) has come to feel icky and wrong and strange when dropping the bomb, to admit to them and say: “Hey, I’m an alcoholic.”
That is not how I worded it today, though.
Today I went in for an eye exam. I desperately need a pair of glasses. I’m as blind as I am hard-headed. The last pair I had were left in an abandon building on the outskirts of the city of Boardman.
(There is a long story to how I came to being in that predicament, but it is not very interesting.)
So: I was being tested on my vision. The woman operating that device you peer through, the one with the blurry red barn – you know, “Which is clearer. One,” then she flips the lens, “Or two?”
After the tests were done, she (I’m not sure what this good woman’s Professional Title would be… a technician?) told me the doctor would be in a moment. I thought she was going to leave, but she sat down! She started asking me questions:
“Did you grow up in Cleveland?”
“Do you like Cleveland?
I told her I was trying.
“Where do you work?”
That is when I had to tell her something. So I opened up. I told her I worked as a Kitchen Manager at a sober living house. That I worked without pay. That I was a resident.
She asked how long I was sober; I told her.
“My husband has been sober for five years,” she said, looking at me with that knowing expression of how difficult it is… with an expression of pride for her accomplishment of her partner.
Then she really shocked me. Grabbing my hand she told me she was very proud of me!
She went on to tell me some stories about her husband. Of the many times he tried and tried to kick his habit… of the sadness and desperation… of all the things I hear dozens of times a week at meetings, in group therapy sessions, and while I am being open and confessing to my therapist.
But this was something different!
This was coming from a different kind of survivor. This was coming from a victim.
There are those that are unfortunate enough to love someone with the disease of addiction. I feel for these people, I really do. We (the drunks, junkies, and degenerates,) well, at least I, acknowledge the fact we put families through hell, lovers through a grotesque gauntlet of agony and frustration, and associates clutching their fists in frustration at the hopelessness we seem to be in.
Meeting a person that remained with her husband through all the misery was amazing for me.
When I was at my worst, Love was a four-letter word to me. I had it in my head it was conditional. That a person became disposable when they were sick (especially sick in the head.) When they no longer could contribute anything but frustration, anger, and desperation – then they could be disengaged. They could be cut-out… until they get better. Then they could be loved.
But, OH! It is far more complex than that.
My thinking, at the time, was distorted and immature and selfish. It was the thinking of an angry child, raging at the world.
(Hell, who would want to love something like that!?)
Causing people pain has a reaction. Our brains (instinct) is hard-wired to survival. Self-preservation. If something is harmful, it is normal to recoil from it. I was very harmful. And my course of self-destruction had become so far advanced, it was no longer just about SELF! It was destructive to those I love most.
Ms. Technician was proof, for me, there are those out there still believing in that old saying: “In sickness and in health.”
Before she left the examination room, she told me she would pray for me.
In the past, whenever anyone would she such a thing to me, I would think, Don’t waste your prayers.
Today: I smiled, looked at her, and said: “It helps.”