I am hesitant to misuse the expression trigger warning, but this may be difficult for some of you to read.
As another 5/27 approaches, I wonder how I will or won’t share a sliver of my story as an act of commemoration.
This anniversary is one of which I speak less and less since returning to the States.
In fact, so great has become the withholding of my non-secret, that I often wonder if its revelation might seem more a coming out and less a casual posting.
While I’ve resisted any grand declaration, I hereby stop not talking about what happened eleven years ago.
But then, moments before the fashioning of a list of thanks and gratitude that anyone who knows me has already read, it hits me.
As much as eleven years and a few weeks from now is a milestone, eleven years from this moment is as well.
Eleven years ago this morning, I was as lost as I’d ever been.
I was drowning, desperate, and undoubtedly in pain.
Nights before, I’d decided to make a change… my fifth such declaration in almost as many days.
I’d failed. Once again, I’d failed.
The final moments of alcoholic annihilation are remarkably clear.
There are thoughts, they just don’t get shared often in the aftermath.
Eleven years ago today is hard to remember partly because I had no idea that Eleven Years Ago was only a few (long) weeks away.
Still, my thoughts in that moment would have included such lovely ponderings as….
“How will they return my body home?”;
“Who will be the one to tell my mom?”;
“Who will hold her as she looks down at me in that box?”;
“How many won’t even know I’m gone?”; and the horrifically double-edged
“Maybe it will all be better soon.”
One of these thoughts, and I’d have thought all five numerous times per minute in those moments as the terror swept my shores, might have snapped me back (almost always the third one).
I’d pray, or cry, to a god I no longer felt knew my name before deciding that tonight would be different. (It would not.)
The significance to this reflection is that this moment is as much something worth acknowledging as that day two weeks later when I somehow kept my word.
In fact, I can promise you moments in the following June and July – nights when I almost went running back to substance’s horrific embrace – were far more significant than 5/27, a night I simply began a string of keeping daily promises to myself.
I wonder how this exercise might benefit us all.
Take, for example, a wedding anniversary.
For all the power of a ten year anniversary, there’s also the ten year and one month anniversary of that time you almost got cold feet.
For that same ten year anniversary, there’s an eight year anniversary of that time you decided to love your way through whichever challenge almost made quitting palatable.
These other anniversaries shape us every bit as much as the moments when we finally started or stopped this behavior or that.
These moments of continuing are what made us find or stay the course we so rightly celebrate.
We all love a good milestone. But then, milestones only exist along a much longer path.
That’s my path. What’s yours?
Note: While my recovery is many things, it is not in any way accidental. If you or anyone you know is struggling with drugs or alcohol, there are ways to recover. I know of a few that worked for me. Feel free to reach out to me. Neither you nor they need ever feel alone again.