As you can tell, this project fell by the wayside for a few years. I relapsed into alcoholism, in and out of detox and back into rehab.
I was so confident when I left detox for the first time. I had changed. I would never repeat my mistakes.. I was ready to take on the world.
The thing is - in that world, to each person in it, you have a job to do: mother, son, employee, employee, boss, caregiver, problem fixer, healer, giver, collector, owner, seller, manager, father, daughter, listener, advisor... To every other person you encounter, you have a role; a specific, often-one-way relationship. And that person often only cares that you fulfill that role. As the saying goes, "You have one job to do!"
And if you fail to fulfill that role, to do your "one job," a lot of the time you'll find that the person you let down does not care WHY you failed. They can't factor in your personal circumstances, especially alcoholism, a factor that many still consider an excuse, not a disease.
Perhaps I expected to never allow it to factor into my life again - which was obviously arrogant of me. Perhaps I expected to receive sympathy if I did struggle with it - which was overly optimistic of others. Perhaps I thought, since there so many like me, as I learned in treatment, the people to whom I was responsible would help me up instead of shaming me. No one is perfect. But to many, my imperfection is my fault; a result of my lack of self-discipline.
The truth is that the only people who can be counted on to understand and to help us back up when we falter are the ones like us. That doesn't make the others bad people. They simply lack the ability to understand what we're going through, how difficult it is to live with this illness.
I hesitated to return to treatment because I was embarrassed and ashamed that I stepped out into that world fully expecting never to return, arrogant and overconfident. I had judged those who had been through treatment multiple times, vowing I would never drop to that lowly place again. But when I realized that it's still tough out there, that I still had more to learn and work to do, I stumbled. All I had to do was reach out to this community of people like me and I was welcomed back, literally with open arms and compassion, with no judgement, no shame, but with a sincere desire to help me back up again. The greatest artists can create nothing without the proper tools. With these people willing to help me hone my tools to be successful, I can begin to create again, rebuild my relationships, fulfill my roles and share the good in me. To do my "one job." To bring my best self to the world.
I am so grateful for the opportunity to do that.