I had my car valeted yesterday. There was a stain on the back seat left there by Alex. A friend and I had scraped him into the car and driven him to rehab, again and curled up on the back seat, looking like a very frightened and small animal he lay on a banana!
I didn’t keep a diary of our journey through the nightmare of addiction but this was about 5 years ago! Not long in time but a lifetime in experience and recovery, for us both.
Alex started smoking dope when he was about 14 years old and then it progressed to most other addictions you can think of. He will say it was always who he was going to be, he can see the patterns of distorted thinking and challenging feelings way back in his childhood but as the 3rd child of 4 in a chaotic and travelling family lots was not noticed and lost in the mayhem of large family life. Not only for him but the other children too.
Of course I couldn’t see all this back then. At that time I was drenched in guilt and self blame, interspersed with rage and fury at the world and anywhere else I could try and relieve myself of the pressure of confused and unresolveable feelings.
I remember the first time Alex went into rehab, about aged 20, I went to a family support group and really couldn’t understand what they were saying. As far as I was concerned this was problem over, he was getting help, he was an intelligent, warm and loving person, he would obviously see what he had been doing and not do it anymore….on leaving the rehab he went and got drunk!
It takes a long time to really sink in that there is a problem here. Like most people I think I felt that he just had to’get a grip’ ‘try harder’ and all would be well.
I think it is holding all the paradoxes that was the hardest thing. He was, and still is, naturally loving and warm, so where did this vicious, manipulative rageful person come from? How could I really want him to die one moment and the next tuck him up in bed and sob with him over the awfulness of where we were? How could I know that there was nothing I could do to change his inner landscape and yet couldn’t stop trying with all my heart to do what I could?
And we all hung in there year after year. Hopes raised and dashed a thousand times, and we hung in. What made the changes you now see possible? I don’t know, maybe his beautiful wife, his children or maybe these things just have a life and gradually , if you stop feeding them they wither and crawl back into their cave. And then something else can start to grow and a life can flourish and the beast is in the cave where it can lick its wounds and in some way nourish and feed the life that then flowers.
I wish that Alex and I had never had to go through all that we did and I am eternally grateful that we did! Another of those paradoxes. It has changed me, I am a different person and I am glad.
And back to my newly valeted car. I no longer have a stain following me wherever I go!