(1) a return to a normal state of health, mind, or strength.
(2) the action or process of regaining possession or control of something stolen or lost.
(Definition from google.)
The first mentions returning to a "normal" state of mind, and I think that definition is awkward. Returning to 'normal' after a traumatic event, usually is not going to happen, but generally, we try. We end up returning to a new level of comfort perhaps, a new normal maybe, but not a return to what was normal before. We are all recovering on some level, from some sort of trauma. With the chain of tragic events of the last month, it is clear so many of our fellow humans are recovering from unimaginable loss; loss of a loved one, loss of function, loss of independence, loss of financial stability, loss of pets, loss of home, loss of belongings and keepsakes, loss of hard earned achievements, loss of businesses, loss of livelihood, loss of dreams. There are so many things to recover from: diseases, addictions, broken hearts, tragedies. I find myself, in the wake of these devastating losses, feeling egotistical or selfish even writing a blog about, essentially, the pursuits of happiness and humanity. Even thinking about my own issues seems a little absurd as I currently have healthy kids, a loving husband, a warm home and some money in the bank to buy food. But we all have our own things we carry. We all have had a traumatic event. We have all recovered, or are and will be forever recovering. All of these things negate who we are, how we act, react and interact with the world around us, and how we continue on trying to regain that possession or control of whatever it is that was stolen or lost. And that is why I write, to continue my recovery, in hopes of regaining pieces of the person I once knew, and in order to better serve and understand my fellow people and their efforts to recover.
I suppose this concept has been on my mind in rather spotty fashion since June of this year. After talking with a good friend this weekend (you know who you are <3) I realized there were so many words that I have never let leave my body in the last 3 years (& 4 months). Not onto paper. Not verbally. Just fermenting inside me, haunting my brain and tormenting my heart. In the grand scheme of things 3 years isn't that long, and in hind sight of course it seems to have flown by, but it is a long time to live feeling angry, resentful, confused, depressed, struggling; at times those dark moments seemed as though they would never end. It is a long time to go on in a more or less constant state of oppressing true feelings, and scrambling desperately to control anything in my life I can possibly harness control over. It is a long time to be bitter inside. It is a long time to be told regularly that I am a negative human, and even worse, to start to feel that I genuinely am. It is a long time to not feel like myself.
So, here I am, after almost 3.5 years of feeling all these chronically negative things, trying so hard to understand, to come to terms, to make amends. Trying so hard to recover. It took that long, but now the process has begun.
My personal struggle erupted in the late Spring of 2014. My life was seemingly ideal. Hard, with an almost 3 year old and an infant, but I had a good solid life as a young mother, with a young family, trying to do the best I could. I loved the home we had made on this little island in the Big Lake, and we were working hard trying to buy it, or trying to buy some home. Between the long nights of broken sleep, nursing sessions, diaper changes, potty training sessions, the food making, the tantrum calming, the skill teaching, the book reading, the song singing... we made time for raising chickens, growing food, taking walks on the shore or in the woods, having friends over for dinner or brunch, making art. Life was good. Until one day, I realized, it wasn't. My life was fine I guess. My oblivion proved to be a protective seal around my heart. But that seal shattered into billions of pieces, along with my heart, when I realized the darkness that my husband was living in. When I realized a warm blanket of lies was all that had been keeping me comfortable, and that blanket was abruptly ripped off of me. Right in front of my sleep deprived eyes, this whole other dimension of abuse, depression and incomprehensible addiction was going on. And in an instant, as it normally goes, your world is flipped upside down. One clue after the next surfaced in rapid succession, leaving me dumbfounded as to how I simply did not notice ANY of this, how could I not know? And more importantly, what do I do?
In a nutshell, after alerting the few people I felt could help me and needed to know. I, not so gracefully, confronted my husband. It was seeking help and keeping the kids and me, or the end of the relationship. He chose help. Off he went, 6 weeks away from family in a treatment facility. And he has been sober since. He made the best choice. I am 100% proud of him, 100% grateful that he chose that path, and thus far has been stable in his own, often difficult, recovery.
What did I do though? I went on. I had two babies to care for, so I worked hard at that with loving support from family and community. I had bills that had to be paid, so I worked more. I had a bazillion emotions inside my heart which felt it had been run over by large pieces of machinery, set on fire, chopped up finely, and discarded; so I suppressed them.
It has been a really hard 3 years. I guess I don't know the depth of struggle my husband has had, living a clean life, but for me, now reflecting back, it has been brutal. I never processed the anger. The rage. The hatred. The bitterness. It manifested itself inside me as extreme resentment, the constant need to feel in control, the depression that would creep in and leave me with no energy or drive me into manic fits which then left me totally exhausted, toxic levels of pessimism coursed through my veins. I guess if you look at the stages of grief, the last three years I have cycled in and out of anger, bargaining and depression. A series of pretty big life decisions followed, mostly out of panic and inability to handle stress. I quit the job I loved. Our family moved away from our home; due in part to just being a young poor family starting out after a recession but a lot also because financial difficulties incurred as a result of said addiction. From there I threw myself erratically into my work. I moved from one obsessive decision that I could control to the next. This was my new normal. And it has really, really sucked.
So, now here I am. With June came the realization of many things, namely that I had been living in this shit storm inside my head for 3 years and things were not getting any better. And that, through the focus on my husband's recovery, I had neglected to recognize the trauma I had endured and had never began my own recovery. I feel I began the healing process over the summer. I realized I needed to take way better care of myself, and moderate basically all aspects of my life. I need to work on breathing, calming myself, and thinking before I speak. I need to release this 3 year old desire to always have the last word, always be in control, or always be right; this was a bad habit I developed out of bitterness. I realized I miss our home and desperately want to move back. I realized I need to focus on things I like to do, things that make me happy and bring joy; not just things I can feel in control of. I realized I HAVE been really negative, really really resentful, really bitter. I am NOT negative, I just react negatively, and need to make a conscious effort to change this pattern. Maybe not so simple, but definitely manageable.
So, this is part of my recovery. This is part of my pursuit. You are all part of my journey, and I appreciate you being on it with me.
My husband gave me permission to share his story. I did not reveal too many details about his struggle with addiction, but he encouraged me to share his story in hopes it would help other people. And I am doing the same. I am thankful for his willingness to be a better person, and to try to help others be better versions of themselves.
This is a space for people to read, but also for people to share. If you have a comment, a story, advice... please share it. We can never fully recover things that were lost or stolen, we can never return to the 'normal' we once knew, but we can move forward in our recovery and grow into something new. We can only do this if we have the courage within us toadmit our faults truthfully, recognize them and navigate around them. It is my experience that this is an extremely solo and subjective journey, but that if we are open about where we are at, collectively we will heal and grow much faster. You cannot quantify someone's grief, you cannot put a time frame on healing, but you can recognize your own struggles, try to grow from your mistakes, and use your experiences to try to help others in their recovery.
My take away from all of this, in the darkness of all these tragedies we are left to recover from, is that it is in this struggle we must take utmost care to notice our personal condition and be truthful with ourselves about what we need, to take time to take care of ourselves. Without this we cannot take proper care of one another and help one another on this path of life.