“Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.”
My alcoholism led me to some dark places, the darkest and most hurtful being the loss of confidence and support of many dear loved ones. Even after I had stopped drinking, the unanswered phone messages and texts and lack of inquiries of how I was doing all equated to what I felt was a shunning.
One person, in particular, completely took me off of her radar. I had already made amends with this person, so I wanted the process of healing and reconnection to continue on as I thought it should: within about six months’ time, we should be back where we were.
HA! I felt like someone had removed a huge chunk of my heart; it literally ached when I thought of her.
I had a history of hurting others in not so obvious ways, then fixing the damage I had created, and restoring (in my mind, at least) the relationship back to normal. So many times, alcohol was my scapegoat; it became too easy to blame my little mishaps or miscommunications on that last bottle of wine or the tequila shot I took (even when I knew that tequila turned me into a lunatic).
But I really, truly, didn’t mean to hurt you, I promise. And you forgave me again and again.
My journey through recovery has been filled with so many opportunities for not only rediscovering myself, but also transforming who I really am at my core. Throughout my alcohol abuse, I disrespected boundaries, I manipulated situations to my favor, I endured physical and emotional abuse from others because I felt that I deserved it, and I scared the shit out of some people. I secretly hated myself for not achieving my dreams or, rather, the high expectations others had for me. I had to somehow drown out the chatter in my head that said I was a failure. My core looked like Swiss cheese.
So when I started to mend fences with those I had hurt deeply and superficially, I was also in the process of repairing my hard drive. I listened and listened and listened some more to others who had experienced similar feelings and situations. I mentally filed how they had managed to slowly build up their character assets. I heard stories of reconnection and of shedding toxicity and establishing boundaries and working, working, working to slowly morph and strengthen the good parts of themselves so that they could just function in normal society.
I realized about 3 years into sobriety that my part in making amends to others was to put my money where my mouth was: I had to try and live a better life, a life (for me, personally) which embodied not only the works of Christ, but of all the great thinkers and humanitarians, religious and secular.
For example, I have to practice patience:
- I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:1-3
- Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet. Aristotle
- Trying to understand is like straining through muddy water. Have the patience to wait! Be still and allow the mud to settle. Lao Tzu
And my personal favorite:
- How poor are they that have not patience! What wound did ever heal but by degrees? William Shakespeare
Somehow, mysteriously and only by God’s perfect timing, my relationship with my beloved healed. While at lunch the other day, she looked at me and I at her, and we both knew we were bonded again. The scars are still there, no doubt, but we are somehow better from the time-out we had to take, and the personal journeys we each have had to embark upon. Nothing felt forced; my heart (and hers) were made whole again.
I absolutely could have never experienced that feeling of belonging and pure love if I were still abusing alcohol.
We both knew we didn’t get to this moment by chance; we both had to have the patience to let the other one heal and grow before reconnecting.