Anyone Seen Grace? My Pressure is Looking for Her.

The Funk. Most of the times when I use the word, I am watching George Clinton videos, living the funk rather than existing in one. Thinking back over the past few weeks, I have been in a severe self-induced fog. Maybe it is 2011 drawing to a close, and just riding it out so a calender year change can make this year, last year.

It’s an odd thing, the past. Sometimes it shoves itself into your life when a long lost friend reconnects with you. I have had the good fortune of this lately, crawling out from under my rock, spurred out of hiding thanks to promoting my memoir. Still, I have to give the updates, relive the milestones as we catch up. Most of the times I can do it like reading from a history book, divorcing myself from any of the emotional attachments. Lately though, every recollection is bringing up feelings.

I am truly blessed today to have a select few in my “circle of trust” that I can share my thoughts with, knowing they understand exactly where I am coming from. When they can fire a story back with how they dealt with a similar situation, the reward is just one of those things you can’t quite put into words, other than knowing that I am certainly not alone in having this particular feeling.

So, it should come as no surprise that waking up today, I get an email from a friend, kind of a mental cattle prod, forcing me to wake up and get on with living. Yes, for me, Christmas was extremely difficult, and it was the biggest test to my recovery. I kept thinking about the whole divorce, how I “moved on” without really going through any of the grieving process. Like any good addict, I was stuck on step one, denial.

There was a brief soiree into the guilt phase, but that party didn’t even have appetizers. The music playing was some abysmal mix of Cure-like dirges. Who wants that if I can’t at least snack on some cheese at the very least. With new resolve though, I have dealt with the reality, and proud to have actually really done so, and not turn to a needle, pretending I have forgiven myself. I am now on step three, anger.

In replaying the events that led up to the divorce, I am pissed, but suffering from the “shame-based personality,” acquired in early childhood without me asking for such a thing, it is difficult to not just say, “It’s your fault Mike.” It is in large part my actions that put us in the situation. I understand though, the outcome was nothing of my doing, that how we solved the problem I created was in large part out of my hands. In sickness and in health, in good times and bad…

Those words have bounced around my brain a lot, and in the end, I did manage to make the best out of a terrible situation. It gave me a strange peace, an epiphany that forced me to admit things were not what I perceived them to be. None of us is perfect, and no life is some carefully crafted fairy tale of smiles and happiness. Everything in life takes work, and the things most important, those involving love, take the most. Certainly in a relationship with someone, but even more so when you look in the mirror.

I find myself saying the serenity prayer a lot lately, accepting the fact that I only have the power to change one thing, myself.  I can offer my experiences, but I can’t force anyone to accept them as gospel, or to understand my emotions at a given time.

So I am ready for 2012, and will never forget 2011. As friends and family begin reading my memoir, I wonder what the reactions will be. Leaving high school, and then college, the story will no doubt come as a complete shock to a lot of people. That was not supposed to happen to me, not with my education, not with all I had going for me. Yet, it most certainly did. I am perversely proud it did in fact, because I am on the other side now, and understand my journey is far from over.

It is time to repay my blessings, to share my life with anyone who wants to read about it, in hopes that the message can reach those who need to hear it. From health professionals to kids, and especially those who know and love an addict, there is always hope. 2012 is going to be a good year, not because life is going to be some smooth ride, but because I am learning how to handle the ups and downs of the journey.


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