Even though I talk, tell stories and jokes, these parts of my life feel like watching a movie of someone else’s life. They are real, yet I feel disassociated from them.
I’ve lived many different lives.
Recently, I had a bit of a weird experience talking with a guy that I’ve been in touch with for a long time. After a couple years of being connected through Facebook, we met up and I liked him.
Since I felt he knew so much about me, I spoke of a time that I was at a low, with the intention of saying how I got out of it. I never got to that part because I was cut off: “If we pursue this I have to tell you, I don’t do crazy” he said.
“Wow,” I thought, I’m being judged through a 15-year-old lens that has absolutely nothing to do with me today.
I had referred to some events I wrote about in my last post. There was nothing crazy about a lack of coping skills in a dangerous living environment with psychological abuse and lack of financial power. That was a situation that I successfully got myself out of, based not on luck, but rather the result of people who cared about me. Why? Because I was worth it.
Even after leaving my ex-partner, life was still unmanageable. But one small step was all I needed to find a counsellor, an objective third-party to meet on a regular basis to set up a dynamic for growth, goal setting and accountability. We lack that on disability. There tend to be none of the checks and balances you might find in a work environment.
What I learned is that the less I do, the harder it becomes to do anything. At one point getting a very simple form filled out and getting into my co-op’s office seemed like a big deal - and it was always late.
“Baby steps…..success begets success.”
That’s what my counsellor told me. I wanted big results, and failed at achieving them when it was hard even to do to the little things. I learned the key is to build. Meeting one goal motivates me to take on a new one.
Eventually my goal became stopping all drugs and drinking. I had a seven-week long trip planned to Europe after stopping everything. I said I would go through this trip without a drink or any other stuff. And let me tell you, after landing in Amsterdam, knowing all my favourite coffee shops, I still managed not to drink or get high.
Crystal meth has been out of my life now for ten years. It’s hard to believe. I’ve basically not drank, with the exception of a couple pf weeks in Puerto Vallarta on 2006, and a couple glasses of wine three years ago, in the last nine years.
I started going to twelve-step groups as a place of support and for having peers who understand, not to mention for a sense of community. This meant relearning how to have fun without drinking, drugging and how to take safe risks. (I’m an excitement junkie who loves to challenge myself in ways that can be scary, Hello, stand-up comedy.)
Bars are no longer interesting, although I do go to them when performing these days.
I had stopped seeing a counsellor for quite some time. The twelve-step groups have been great, but then I had a trigger for a bunch of old unresolved issues and I went back to seeing a new counsellor.
It’s like pealing off the layers of an onion. I deal with one layer and another presents itself. If this is not happening, and I felt it at one time, I am stuck. If you wait long enough and do the work you will find your layers.
I think that’s why I was so shocked by the comment. from my new friend when telling him my story. “If we pursue this I have to tell you, I don’t do crazy.” The person had frozen me in time and brought that moment into the present as if it were a reality of today.
Old lives are just that - old lives, like dusty photo albums in the attic. I’d never pull out those 80s photos if they turned me back into them!
But put all the work I’ve done on myself, maintaining successful relationships still remain my Achilles Heal in many ways. That’s not to to say the personal growth hasn’t paid off. No longer will I contort myself into a pretzel to fit in to a relationship.
I don’t have to be in one either. Telling someone it’s not going to work doesn’t bother me as it used to. Had this particular episode not ended with closed-ended text that dripped with lack of enthusiasm, I would have had a face-to-face conversation.
Having worked with my present counsellor, I have a clear view of what I want in a relationship and if it’s not there, that’s it. One of my criteria is to be accepted for the entire package and not be labelled by it, directly or indirectly.
So . . instead of seeing my life as lacking, I see abundance. And thanks to the twelve-step programs, peers, friends and counsellors and a lot of work spanning years, I can say I really like my life.
This is success.