Tuesday, January 10, 2012

"Don't compare your insides with other people's outsides."

A counselor once told me that, and I understood exactly what she was telling me, but I've never been able to fully explain it to someone else without an example. Unfortunately, I have a new one to share.

A friend of mine from my using days connected with me on Face Book a couple of years ago. We were close, he and I, and I'd thought about him often since becoming sober. When he contacted me, I had about three years clean time and, while still fragile, I was feeling pretty good about things.

He told me he was doing well, was out of prison and had started his life again. He was going to school, working, and the pictures in his online albums showed a healthy, happy man. He missed me. I missed him. He wanted to get together to catch up. I couldn't do it.

I told him how much I wanted to see him, but that I knew I wasn't ready. "I've been clean for three years. Maybe it was all fun and games for the rest of you guys, but it was HARD for me to kick, and when I think of getting together with you, all I want to do is get high."

He understood and said he'd be there for me whenever I was ready. And I knew he was genuine.

Here's something most people don't know: regardless of what you've seen in movies or on TV, addicts, in my experience, are very supportive of one another when it comes to quitting. We know that what we're doing is killing us. We'll never voice it or even allow ourselves to think it, but deep down we know we're dying. We wouldn't wish our addiction on anyone...especially someone we care about.

So when he said he understood and that he loved me and respected my sobriety and my feelings, I knew he meant it. Every so often he'd call or e-mail me again saying how good he was doing He was sober and had graduated from school. He had a girlfriend and even though some of his friends still "played around," as he put it, he was doing great and meth held no interest for him anymore.

"Why is it so easy for him?" I'd wonder, scrolling through pictures of him fishing with a big group of friends, all smiling and hamming it up for the camera. "Why am I so weak?" I'd ask myself clicking through pictures of him at weddings and celebrations. "He's out there living this great life, and I'm hiding from the world because I'm scared to engage with it."

And I wanted to see him. I really did. I have a lot of love for this man. But when I would speak with him on the phone it was almost like I could taste the glass pipe and hear the click of a lighter. I'd cry after hanging up because I couldn't quit thinking about meth,. All of this made me feel weak and unsure of myself and whether or not I was really in recovery, or if I were just hiding from my addiction.

Why don't I feel the way he looks?

I found out a couple of days ago that he's been arrested again for possession with intent, and conspiracy. This is his third felony drug offense and he's currently on parole.

I have mixed emotions. My heart is breaking for him. He's a wonderful man with a good soul, and trite phrases like, "lost potential" are floating through my head. At the same time I feel like I dodged a bullet. Not that I would have used with him or that it would even have been possible, but it would have opened a door that's best left locked forever.

Sometimes I think it would be nice if we could all see each other for who we really are all the time. It might save a lot of heartache.

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