I say that like I'm at the bar, beer me!
What is it, this courage? Maybe if it's been given to me, I should know. But I don't. Am I called courageous because I quit drinking?
Let me be honest. I don't feel very courageous. I feel foreign, like I'm learning the customs of a new culture.
I'm swinging up here in the corner of the room, watching myself walk around in a fog, not drinking. I said that in an email to someone still stuck in her web of addiction and feeling so ashamed in comparison to those of us who have quit. I told her that I've only gotten as far from the middle as to dangle from my corner perch, watching myself, this strange person who can't figure out how to be. That's where I am, just hanging there like a spider needing her prey, wanting it, poised and ready to feed her need.
So please don't think I have more courage than you do, friend.
Sure, I'm not stuck in that middle anymore, trapped. I did quit. But I'm still here in this web of me, good ol' addicted me. It's like a friend said, he may have removed the alcohol from his alcoholism, but he's still got a whole lot of the ism to deal with. Me too.
So yes, I'm holding on to my addiction even while abstaining. I'm holding on to it at least by a thread, not finding myself able to fully let go. After all, the addiction web is sticky and I've been in it for a very long time. If I do let go, I'm terrified this last string I'm connected to will break and send me crashing to the rock bottom I've narrowly avoided by quitting. So I'm allowing myself to miss the booze, to grieve it even. To think about it way too much just like I used to, until my mind and body are a little stronger and can figure out what else to do. I'm hanging here until I'm more prepared to say goodbye, and more able to see the good things in me. The good things that aren't of my ism. The things that are waiting to be lived out more fully and have been there all along.
The dictionary describes courage like this: the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery.
quality of mind or spirit
That kind of courage takes a long time to find, to learn. I don't have it yet. This whole sobriety thing demands it, but it's not there at first, at least not for me. To refrain from drinking is hard, yes. But once I voiced my need for help it was as if the option was taken away. No choice. Frozen. Stuck. Foreign.
I was thinking about this on the way home from an AA meeting yesterday. About all of it, and I started to feel the mind and soul numbing exhaustion of this experience. I came through the door and kicked off my shoes. There was my family, on the couch, content and shiny beautiful to me. I watched Miles carefully oh so carefully construct his latest Lego creation. It amazes me, the time that boy can spend on these elaborate buildings and airplanes and ships, not following any kind of pattern or picture, just creating to the beat of his own drum. The patience he has for it and the work he's willing to put forth are simply astounding. The effort of his tiny fingers on tiny plastic pieces, matching colors, undoing and redoing until he's satisfied and content, until his masterpiece is just as it should be as he sees it. That's what he was doing, yet again, when I took off my coat and looked up, my heart hurting and my head pounding.
Daddy asked him, Oh are you rebuilding that?
He said, I'm not just rebuilding it, I'm renewing it.
And I thought, me too.
That is being done for me too, not by me. With even more careful care and determination than that of a child, and with a fierce love for a masterpiece creation. That's what I have to believe. That is what is being done here. Not just rebuilding, but renewing. And that will happen even if I'm still and cold like a small piece of plastic. And it will happen even if I'm just watching from the corner of the room, because that's all I can do right now. It will happen in this slow surrender.
The road from here is the place that I'll need that elusive courage from the dictionary. It is in the trip down from the web even after the drinking is done. Right now I can't muster the strength for that kind of courage. So I beg for it, courage me, and I know it will come. I will finish the descent from this web and join in, with time.