Alison's Insights

Making Sense of Addiction Recovery in Midlife One Slow Deep Breath at a Time

Eyes Wide Open My Friend

I have been so fortunate to have amazing friends in my life.  Some have come and gone for various reasons and some have been there through thick and … hate to use this word … thin.

When I first opened my eyes to what recovery really meant, I kept hearing, “be very careful about who you hang out with, where you are and how you react.”

Essentially it was advice about protecting the recovery efforts I was working so tirelessly to achieve.

In those early days what I heard was, “watch your step”, what I didn’t hear was, “because those things haven’t changed, you have.”

At that time I had no idea how former friends, places and situations subtly enabled my addictive thoughts and actions.

I recently got together with a woman I became friends with over 20 years ago.  This is one of those friends who, no matter how much time had lapsed, when we saw each other, it was as if no time passed at all.

This most recent occasion, it had been many years since I’d actually seen her.  We kept up electronically and holiday cards each year, but eye to eye, it had been a long time.

After a warm embrace and a few tears of joy, we began talking at a rapid pace, mostly over each others words.  We always did that.

Initially, this easy slide back into what was seemingly our routine, made my heart sing.  Yet within a short time, everything started happening in slow motion for me.

I started to hear her.  I mean really hear her.  My heart sank.  I began to hear words that were beyond unhealthy for me to hear.  I started to see my friend and our friendship with eyes wide open.

And I was heartbroken.

I suddenly realized the reason she and I were so close for so long.  In a windswept moment it hit me.  I had, all those years ago, allowed her, and supported the fact, that she helped to enable my addictive, obsessive thinking and, in some cases behaviors.

We visited for a long time, yet during that time, the tables turned.  I started to find myself shifting further and further away.

I knew right then the basis of our friendship which was formulated all those years ago was now not something good for me or my recovery.

Here’s when the “big girl” pants have to come on so I can step up to who I am today, not recoil into who I was then.  I have to continue living in the present, not wishing for the past to have been different.

I cried long, very sad tears on that drive home because I knew I could not erase what I’d seen.  I could not “unring” the bell I’d heard.

I had to take a good look at what my part in this friendship has been and vice versa.

Based upon our conversation, I had to consider what kind of influence I had on her as a result of my previous perspective on how to live life.

In that moment, I knew I had to make a monumental change.  I had to reconsider how much and how often I will share my life with my friend from this point on.

I can’t change her and I am by no means shutting the door on our friendship. I’m simply repurposing how all of this fits into my life today.  For her benefit as much as mine.

I didn’t want to accept this.  But, then again, there have been many recovery actions steps I didn’t want to accept, let alone take.  I tried resisting but was told if I continued to do so, I wouldn’t come into living a peacefully contented life.

I have that life today.

I’ve come too far to risk shifting backwards in recovery.

This, my friends, is where the rubber hits the road.  This is when I need to stand up to respecting myself and my recovery.

Yes, my eyes became wide open that day, however because of the love I have for my friend and for myself, I must protect what I’ve worked so hard to achieve.

No one said recovery, or growing up would be easy.

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One thought on “Eyes Wide Open My Friend

  1. Hi Alison,
    I love your post. I’m an author and speaker after losing a husband and daughter to alcohol abuse. I’m writing a book and would love you to contribute to the story. I have volunteers from all different states telling their story. It’s about for alcoholics and addicts. It will be their book. I’m doing a research on what is and isn’t working in recovery. If you’d like more info on it and the questions for the book, I’d be thrilled to hear from you. I heard of you through EmpowHer.

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