Alison's Insights

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

The Scare: Knowing The Kind of Support Needed

(NOTE: I thank all of the readers of this blog who expressed concern after reading my last post, one of several in a series I’m calling “The Scare”. All of them refer to recovery solutions I used to get me through a difficult time. I’m now on the other side of that health scare and wanted to share how the ripple effect of recovery kept me from falling back into old behavior traps and unmindful thinking.)

The time between the CT scan and my next doctor appointment seemed as if the clocks had stopped ticking and when they began again, the seconds were passing in tortoise time.

My husband asked if I was going to alert family and close friends to what was going on. I said no, not now.

The people in my life have taught me, each in their own way, how they process and react to unidentified medical issues. Subconsciously, most default into thoughts of how this will somehow affect them rather than fully focusing on how to support the person with the medical issue. Perhaps this could be perceived as self-centeredness but when hearts are hurting and fear starts to set in, all rationale is lost. Of course this is not intentional. No one is immune to toying with if/then scenarios.

So in that moment, my response to my husband was based on the fact that I simply didn’t have the energy or emotional stability to relieve others of their fears for what I was facing. I’ve been in a similar place not so long ago of being unable to hang up the phone until I agreed with the other person for the second, third or fourth time that I was going to be alright. All the while knowing this confirmation was to calm their fear-filled waters not mine.

Through the addiction recovery process I’ve come to understand that when all I cared about was keeping the glass of wine filled and my plate empty, I related mostly to excitement, anxiety and depression. Consciously or unconsciously I searched for ways to fulfill those feelings; serious medical issues certainly will do that. When I finally put the wine away and kept the fork to my mouth, I was better able to learn about peace of mind and a quiet heart; exactly were I needed to stay during the dragging days between tests and results.

This is why I craved authentic support, the kind that allowed for only sticking to facts, not treading the waters of projection. At that time, the only facts I knew for sure were, (1) unidentified masses had been detected in my body, (2) thus far none of the tests revealed a need for immediate surgery and (3) a search and find mission was underway. Other than that, nothing else was factual.

Therefore with my husband’s hand in mine we took a collective deep breath and moved forward with the busyness surrounding Thanksgiving, his upcoming shoulder replacement surgery and Christmas. Neither of us wanted to dwell in the house of the “what if’s.”

The following week we met with the pulmonologist who advised further testing was necessary before a biopsy would be conducted. Unfortunately due to the Thanksgiving holiday, offices were closed so the tests would have to wait. More prayers, more patience, more time spent calmly focusing on facts.

Over the Thanksgiving holiday my husband and I went out-of-town to celebrate with family. We got our minds off of our “stuff” and focused on the craziness only family can avail. The days were filled with lots of laughter, great food and unconditional love. Unbeknownst to each person I encountered, they were supporting me beyond limits, offering me tangible examples of lives well lived no matter what difficulties they’d overcome. I felt peaceful and calm instead of anxious and depressed.

After Thanksgiving the next level of tests were completed confirming a biopsy was required. We made the decision to postpone my husband’s shoulder replacement surgery to remain open for what the biopsy might reveal.

I decided the time was right to talk with my loved ones; feeling confident I could calmly recant what had been going on and what my next steps were. While I still didn’t have concrete answers to what I might be facing, I believed with the peaceful cadence of my voice and a few sporadic wisps of laughter I would be better able to lessen the probability of any high-reaching projections.

Each person thanked me for assuring them I was OK, I was being well taken care of emotionally as well as physically and that I’d keep them informed from that point on.

As each phone call ended, I knew we both felt supported.

Up next: Gratitude

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One thought on “The Scare: Knowing The Kind of Support Needed

  1. Abbey Olson on said:

    Alison…it’s Abbey from MC. I just started getting your blogs emailed and caught up with reading the last few. I had know idea you were going through all of this. Your sense of calm and patience is contagious. Reading this actually made me feel calm and steady because you sound so grounded and present, even if others around you are not. Was it you who said “patience” is action and that it’s a choice? Someone said it recently in chat. Clearly, you are taking those slow deep breaths and making good choices. Your wisdom is invaluable. I’m hoping for the best! HUG!

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