So My House Burned Down….Now What?
Last night my friend Stacy and I were having a lovely meal at a nice restaurant sipping coffee, and discussing recovery. After a week of soul searching on my next blog post it hit me by way of a metaphor, but metaphors are my forte. Early recovery is a wonderful time and full of many realizations. It feels like everyone is cheering you on, everyday sober is celebrated. 30 days, 60 days, 90 days, 3 months, and 6 months!!!!! You now know the joy of no hangovers, your bank account isn’t negative anymore, and you feel that hyper sense of self awareness! Congratulations everyone will say, but at this point the anniversaries and milestones become further apart, you are by most societal measures a sober person. What you aren’t told is you have a very pivotal and anxiety ridden task ahead of you…..now to the metaphor I’m dying to share.
So your house burned down, it became unmanageable and like the burning trash fire of your addiction it is now a smoldering heap you have to clean up. All right well easy enough…..call in the bulldozers remove the charred remains and welcome the offers to help. The kind words of people who tell you how strong you are and it will get better. Sift through memories of that house realizing what you can salvage and what you can’t. Stay at family and friends houses, maybe your moms and get home cooked meals everyday. Everyone is on high alert, because you have a smoldering heap of a home. 6 months later the initial rubble of your demise is cleared, the helping hands are fewer and fewer. You stand there staring at an empty lot where a home use to be.
This my friends is when reality hits, you are a person who burned their house down. Imagine standing there alone staring at that now blank lot and deciding how to rebuild. This is your life now and you face some hard decisions and questions much bigger than clearing the lot or finding a place to sleep. Some would look at this vacant lot and envision a bigger home made of stone that can’t burn down. They may rejoice in the burnt up memories and mementos of the old house, only holding the memories that bring peace and comfort. Others may stare at that lot and just think about the house that once stood there. The boozy holidays, old friends who stopped by with a bottle of wine, or that time they got so drunk they fell down the stairs and comically didn’t spill a drop of wine. This person isn’t recalling the hangover that ruined Christmas, the friends who stopped coming by when wine was no longer welcome, or the fact they broke their wrist in that comical fall. This my friends is 6 to 12 months. You have some big decisions and this is when we dig deep.
Will you be the person who idolizes and misses that paper house that once stood there bound to only burn again? Or Will you be the person who decides to build a stronger more solid home filled with new memories and only keeping the ones that serve to protect your house? There is another option how about mud and straw, could still burn but requires less up keep than a big stone mansion. Its easy convenient and maybe some of those old friends will still stop by, because you aren’t pretentious. You are still one of them, so you take the risk of fire and hold onto flammable material in a semi fire proof home, I mean we don’t want to be a show off right?
I personally can undoubtedly say I am building the biggest, strongest, flashiest house and will throw exquisite mocktail parties and celebrations to be remembered for a life time. My rugs will have no wine stains and my children will come home everyday to love and hugs. I want my house fire proof and we all need to decide how we make that happen. We are not all the same as for treatment plans and the circumstances that led to the trash fire of a life we had are different. Guys, this is the scary part….figuring out how you can maintain and build that house alone. Tackling mental health issues, family issues, learning to cut toxic people, developing a new fitness routine or staying involved in AA. This process involves reflection and when you burnt your whole house down its not so easy. This pivotal time I encourage people to be vocal, reach out, and consult those who only want to see you succeed.