My Friend Joe

I have written quite a bit about my time in active addiction, and this blog is a journey through my recovery, from about 6 weeks in to the present day, but the time frame I have omitted, for no real reason, is that first 6 weeks when I put the brakes on ingesting addictive substances, and began the road to recovery.

I can tell you about my daily schedule during that time pretty concisely:  get up, pray, hang out with my Mom, go to a meeting, hang out with my Mom, spend a few hours with my children, hang out with my Mom, go to bed.  Lather, rinse, repeat.  The to-do list was short, but the mental chaos was long, and difficult.  To those reading who are new to recovery:  I feel your pain, I remember it like it was yesterday.  You go to meetings and try to emulate what you see happening around you, but your mind is racing so much, and there is so much personal damage, that it is incredibly difficult to focus on what is important.  Hang in there, I promise it does get easier!

During that time, there is one aspect that, in retrospect, is a blessing:  there was really no thought on my part that I would not “get it.”  I knew it was possible for me to recover, it just took me time, and trial and error, to get it right.  I hear many people say their plan was simply to die a drunk or addict; that was never for one moment a thought in my head.

On the other hand, during the earliest days, I did believe, in the deepest way, that life as I knew it was over.  I was certain my marriage was over, and I was almost as equally certain that any remaining friendships would choose my husband over me.  The silver lining in this cloud was that my head was so full of craziness, I just didn’t have room to imagine the future… I couldn’t picture it, so I didn’t even try.

My primary group of friends have been around for 20 years.  We met in college, and, for me, I realized that I found the best group of people in the world, so why let them go?  When I hit my bottom, these friends would fall into two categories:  those who knew of my addiction, and so therefore I have actively lied to them, telling them I was recovering when in fact I was not; and those who knew nothing about my addiction.  Either way, I figured I would lose them all.  Devastating, to be sure, but then again there was so much devastation who had time to process it all?

Two of this long-time group reached out to me in those early days.  I will devote a separate post to each, they deserve it.  Today I am going to focus on my friend Joe.

Joe falls into that first category about which I spoke:  I let him believe I was recovering, and so therefore I actively lied.  And I knew, when the bottom dropped, that Joe was possibly the first friend my husband went to and shared all the gory details.  So, imagine my surprise when, while sitting with my Mom (see my daily schedule above), I received a voice mail from my friend Joe.  He sounded about as far from happy as you can get, but he was reaching out, and he wanted me to know he was still there for me.  I am feeling the elation all over again as I am typing.  This voice mail came about 2 weeks into my recovery, and I believe it was the first glimmer of hope I received that life may in fact become happy again.

And so began the new leg of our decades-long relationship.  Joe has an exceptionally busy career, a wife and two small children, but he took time, almost every night, to talk to me into the wee hours of the morning.  He insisted I text him every morning with the day count of my sobriety.  He talked me off too many ledges to count.   He gave me a reason to smile when I thought I would never smile again.  All this from a friendship I was certain was doomed.

So now, it is a little over a year later, and life is amazing.  All the relationships I thought I lost forever are back, and better than ever.  And while  Joe and I see/talk to each other as much as we can, life gets busy, so it is certainly not as much as I would like.  Recently Joe had a series of things happen to him, coincidences like the ones we have always joked about, and debated whether or not they were meaningful.  Miracle of all miracles, he actually came to me for some perspective, rather than the other way around.  It is nothing short of amazing… I can use the tools that I very likely would not even have if not for him, and I can help him find his way.  If you had told me that would happen a year ago… that I would have any kind of positive life experience to share… I would have laughed, and laughed and laughed.

Joe is not an alcoholic or an addict.  He is just a guy trying to be the best person he can be.  And because he believed in me, he now has a friend with a set of tools not found in the “regular” world, tools that just may be able to help him live a more joyful life.  Seriously, does it get any better than that?

Today’s Miracle:

Friends that stand by you during impossibly tough times is a miracle.  Remembering that, and having gratitude for it, is priceless.  And I am already mentally writing the future posts for all the great people in my life!

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Posted on April 24, 2013, in That's What Friends Are For and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Beautiful post. So much there, and so much I can identify with. I could go on for pages (sometimes it seems that I do that on occasion…ha ha) about how your story parallels parts of mine. How you describe early recovery is so bang on. Craziness. That’s all it is. I was just as crazy in my early recovery as I ever was in drinking. Maybe nuttier. I didn’t have my medicine, my coping mechanism, so what was I to do when *life* happened, when the emotions I drank away came at me in a fierce manner? So I had a schedule like yours, except it was go to as many meetings a day (sometimes five), walk the streets, read, talk to my sponsor, go home and crash. Oh, and eat a box of cookies daily…ha ha. But it does get better, as long as we have a plan of action. Willpower was useless to me for me. I needed power and I got it from my HP.

    I too thought I would lose all my friends, which were basically all my wife’s friends. But although they weren’t exactly happy with me (being arrested for drunk driving with your 3 yr old in the back isn’t going to endear anyone), they stood by me. They certainly took care of my wife and our son first, but they started to see me at the treatment center, and started to call me…I was too ashamed to answer, so I let them leave messages. Eventually I started talking, and things sort of rolled from there. And these same friends were at my one year medallion. It’s an amazing thing. We even joke about me being an alkie.

    I love that you are dedicating posts to these people in your life. Awesome, and shows how important they are to you.

    Wonderful stuff, as usual, J.

    Blessings,
    Paul

    Like

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