Today’s random-play soundtrack:
“Vertigo” by U2
Yeah, so a week ago I wrote about how crazy this past week was going to be.
Managed to rent the apartment next door. Husband left town Wednesday; school let out Thursday; got house-sitters and garden-people ready to look after the home-place so The Kid and I can fly across the pond and join Big Daddy, whose parents have moved to a nursing home.
Meanwhile, this week, beloved father-in-law fell inside the nursing home, confirming that he needs full-time care… So once The Kid and I arrive, we will be helping pack up the house to show it to buyers.
I’d written about how afraid I was of the OTC codeine in the UK… It’s like muscle-memory: “Go to UK, buy codeine.” It wasn’t an obsession, it was just knowledge, an insistent possibility, a niggling at the back of my mind, what is sometimes called “squirrelliness.” I felt squirrelly.
Tried to get out of my own head by focusing on what I could do to Help. But beyond pack stuff up, shred documents, whatever, what could I really do?—not much. I can’t do anything to change their overall situation. I love them, and their condition is deteriorating inexorably. I can’t save them. It presses on my Fear Of Abandonment, one of my primary defects.
So, I did what one of my sponsors trained me to do: I put my hand up at meetings and I asked for help.
After Monday’s meeting, my friend C came up to me. She’s 73, exceedingly physically fit. She could probably outrun me in a 5K. Has more than 20 years. She always takes my calls and even though there are lots of people with my name (believe it or not) in the meetings, she always knows which one I am when I call. (Like, maybe she has it marked in her phone? duh.) … She’s always going somewhere. In a couple of weeks, she’s off to another state to teach. I want to be like C when I grow up.
“I know exactly how you can help this family,” she says urgently.
“You can STAY SOBER,” she says, shaking my arm. “That’s the first and best way you can help them. If you use, you will abandon yourself, and you’ll be unable just to be present for them, which is a great service in and of itself.”
What a way to keep it simple.
I realize, my addiction tells me, if I can’t heal fractures, if I can’t cure dementia, if I can’t personally pack up the entire house in four days and maybe even find a buyer—if I can’t Fix It, I’m not Helping. I like the Big High.
And the thing about Abandonment. C said,
If you use, you will abandon yourself.
I’ve been sitting with this all week.
When we identify a character defect that is a harm, I was taught, we pray that our Higher Power will remove it and replace it with its opposite. If one of my primary defects is impatience, I pray for this to be removed and to be replaced with patience.
If my character defect is Fear Of Abandonment—specifically abandonment of myself—then the opposite would be… a Return To Self. Acceptance that I’m enough as I am.
No matter what, I never have to leave myself again.
Making amends to oneself is controversial depending on whom you talk to. For example AA’s book doesn’t mention it; AlAnon’s does. I’ve decided that if there is one last amend I have to make, it is this one. As I said in a women’s (AA) meeting Friday, this feels so major, and yet at the same time really simple, and lots of heads were nodding.
Bear with me as I take a day or two off to make the journey and get settled…