Grateful for the ALL of it.

Two weeks ago I wrote a blog post about being addicted to meth. It was the last blog post I wrote. It’s right here if you want to read it. I never know what I am going to write about until I sit down and write. I wasn’t expecting to write about meth that day and I was unprepared for the way it would make me feel. As soon as I began to write that day, I was overcome with sadness. I cried the entire time I was writing. I am not one to cry and when it started to creep up on me, my instinct was to shut it down. I didn’t shut it down. I let it go. I bawled my eyes out. Big, crocodile tears, snot and ugly crying for an hour. I cried for my parents who lived through that Hell. I cried for the girl I was. I cried for my children who lost their father. I cried because it is just all so sad. When I finished the blog, I stopped crying and went upstairs to make breakfast for my boys. But I was still incredibly sad. I went to a yoga class in my studio and it came out again. Pigeon pose got me. Big, crocodile tears, snot and ugly crying again. I was exhausted when it was over. That was on a Sunday. I had no idea that on Wednesday I would be in Kentucky at my parent’s house, waiting out hurricane Florence. We evacuated Wednesday morning and I figured if we were going to leave, we might as well go visit people who love us all the world full. So that’s what we did. All of those meth memories were still heavy in my mind and in my heart. Even though that part of my life was 20 years ago, the memories are still fresh and home is full of emotional triggers. Nothing could ever make me want to use again, but the familiar sites take me right back. Every time. The first day I was there I went to an AA meeting. The meeting was just starting when I heard someone come in. I turned my head to check it out and was blown away by what I saw. Standing in the kitchen of this AA clubhouse was a friend I had not seen in years. Maybe 20 years. This woman had been a very close friend. She was the big sister of my best childhood friend. Growing up, she was like my big sister. I was at their house all the time and we did all the things together. All the normal childhood things. Then she started to grow up. We all did. She went first.   Sometimes, when she went on dates, she would bring us home a bottle of Boones Farm. If we were lucky, she would bring us vodka. I smoked my first joint with her and as I got into harder drugs, I drifted away from her little sister and gravitated towards her. When I was 17, I did my first rail of meth with her. She was in and out of my life for the next few years as we had different crowds that we associated with. Then, near the end of my addiction, at my worst, we hooked up again. It was an awful time in my life and I have to assume it wasn’t much better for her.  Meth is an awful drug. When I saw her standing in the kitchen area of that AA meeting, my soul exploded and I immediately jumped out of my seat to go hug her. Again and again. I couldn’t stop hugging her. She sat beside me during the meeting. I noticed that she couldn’t be still. She seemed nervous. Fidgety. My heart hurt for her. She has 18 months clean and sober. 18 months and she still hasn’t settled. Meth is an awful drug. She has been stuck in that world all this time. She never left. She got in trouble with the law a few times and is now in the drug court program. She had to go through a local treatment center. She has to check in with the court fairly often, keep a job and pass drug tests. Her main focus in life right now is not using drugs. We talked after the meeting and I shared with her how meditation and yoga have helped me in so many ways. I stressed the importance of finding a sponsor that shes’s comfortable sharing with. I told her she could call me anytime she was struggling and I would be there to listen and help guide her.  I wish I could give her what I have. It doesn’t work like that though. She has to want it and she has to do the work. I have never been more grateful for my recovery than I was in that moment. Grateful that my parents got me out of there. Grateful for that crazy, Scientology based treatment center in Oklahoma that tried to keep me forever but still saved my life. Grateful that I never went back to Kentucky to live. It’s a lovely place, but for me, it holds too many ugly memories. Before I went far, far away to treatment, for a long, long time, one of my dearest using friends told me I didn’t need such a long time in treatment because I wasn’t a “real drug addict.” She assured me that once I got there and saw all the heroin addicts I would realize that I didn’t belong. My brain told me she might be right, but my gut said she was wrong. As it turns out, I did belong. I was a “real drug addict.” I realize now that she was losing her best friend and she was sad. She got left behind. I hated leaving her and I had “survivor’s guilt.” I left her in that Hell because I wanted to live. I am still friends-ish with her and I have watched (from afar) her struggle to stay clean all of her life. I really had to distance myself from all of that. Have I mentioned that meth is an awful drug? My entire trip home seemed to be about recovery. I suppose my entire life IS about recovery. It has to be. I connected with a cousin who is much younger than me while I was there.  I only knew her as a young child. Thanks to social media I “know” her as an adult. An adult recovering from meth addiction. She too was in the drug court program and happened to graduate while I was there. Her mom asked me if I would like to come see her graduate. I will always do what I can to support people in recovery, so naturally, I said yes. It was a very sweet and moving experience. She has all the love and support of family and as long as she keeps doing what she’s doing, she will be OK. While I was in the court room I ran into the drug counselor who helped get me into my very first treatment center when I was 21 years old. He works in the drug court program. He has helped so many others since then and it was really great to see him. I went to yoga while I was in Kentucky and I went to more meetings. I meditate daily. Always.  Those things keep me grounded. I ran into another woman I knew from my childhood at the meetings. One I never used or drank with. She has 6 years in the program. We weren’t necessarily friends growing up and the way I remember it, we didn’t even like each other. But 20 years and the bond of AA changes that. She was so friendly and helpful. I was extremely grateful for her presence. She is a living example of AA. I was in Kentucky for a week and the ONLY people who reached out to me and said they wanted to see me are friends I know from social media who are also in recovery.  Amazing how that works. So often I feel like I’m not AA enough because I don’t quote the big book and I have so many other tools to support my recovery. But, being there, AA felt like Home. I was exactly where I was supposed to be. While I was in Kentucky,  I spent a lot of time with my parents. We just chilled together most of the time. I spent time with my brother and my sister in law. I saw my nieces almost every day. Ram Dass  said “If you think you are enlightened, go spend a week with your family.” I’m not saying I’m enlightened, I’m just saying we had a lovely time and my Mom said I seemed more at ease this trip than I ever have. So. There’s that. 🙂 It was a sure sign that all the “work” I’ve been doing is working. I am thrilled to be back home in NC and I’m ready to get back into my routine.  I’m grateful for the reminders of my past last week because it makes me appreciate today even more.

4 thoughts on “Grateful for the ALL of it.

  1. Julia Bolger says:

    Shannon, I am in such a battle right now. All your blogs and posts are such an inspiration to me, but I have to get there. And I’m not. Because of you, I will keep fighting. My guilt is the worst “killer” feeling I have ever had because of my son. But because of my son and your inspiration, I will keep the battle going. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Joyce says:

    My heart skips a beat every time I think of you and your journey. I see the brightest and most beautiful light around you, actually since the first day I met you . Truly grateful to know you and love you and thank you for being such a huge inspiration in this world

    Liked by 1 person

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