“Before I started my Recovery 3.5 years ago I watched, and helped, several friends try to recover from addiction. What I found by watching them and listening to them was there’s one essential tool needed to recover from an addiction and it’s the same thing we need as we recover from Mental Illness… what we need is Touch.”
“Maybe It’s Time For A Manic Depressive Anonymous”, Me; Feb. 28, 2008.
Every action has an equal and opposite reaction, but every inaction has an equal and often undeserved punishment.
There was a wedding this past weekend. It made sense I wasn’t invited because I haven’t spoken to the groom in over a year, and I’ve never met the bride. But not too long ago, and for a few years, he and I were really close and we shared a large pool of friends. Most of whom I haven’t spoken to since I started my recovery. All of whom were back here in our little village for the wedding.
I found out by mistake. A friend wrote and asked if I was going. The initial shock hurt for a little while, but I rationalized it pretty quickly… we were friends, now we’re acquaintances and there’s only so many spaces available at a wedding. So not being at the wedding isn’t what still hurts. What still hurts is being reminded again that I’ve lost touch with almost everyone I’ve cared about and now I’m not even on the Reception lists.
I’ve thought about this before… a few weeks ago there was an unofficial College reunion that I also found out about by mistake, and more recently I found a Facebook group set up by the people I actually graduated with that had my name attached to it.
But this past week was like someone decided I hadn’t sufficiently understood my lesson so they shoved my face directly into the horse’s ass so I can get a better look at where my life is going.
This piece of my recovery feels very much like I’ve put my head down and typed out five thousand words and when I finally look at the screen all of the text is in capital letters because midway through the first sentence I hit the all-caps key instead of shift. Everything’s there, I just have to go back and rewrite it all.
Just like all the people I care about are there, all I have to do now is start making phone calls and inviting people out for coffee. But the first conversation with Everyone will be all about how sane I am now. Which bothers me. It bothers me, a lot, that my friends haven’t taken any time to understand what I’ve been going through.
So, do I drop all of them and start all over? Do I weed through the list and pick the really interesting ones to have that coffee with? Where does my responsibility to our friendships begin and end? When we were living in Toronto I was the one who moved away first… but only a few miles.
What was their responsibility to me when I lost my mind after confronting various father/abandonment issues, and then when I moved further away and became homeless, living on $120/month? A few of my work friends kept in touch for a few months, but none of my core group.
I feel like I did after my girlfriend broke up with me in 1993. She had left for university near Toronto in September and came back at Christmas to tell me she had a new boyfriend. There was all the same expectations then — her coming back for Christmas sex, that there are now — I’m recovered, lets get back to where we were. But everyone has moved on.
She gave it up to some other guy, while over the past four years my friends have been getting along together just fine.
My brother is also getting married in a few months. We hardly ever talk anymore either. So far this year there have been a couple of emails and he was up here for a day back in April. He’s having my step-father plan out the bachelor party.
Since I was a part of The Group my friends have become, for the most part, very successful at what they do. There’s an award-winning micro-brewery, a bunch of them now have kids, a couple own condos, a few more own houses. My brother is managing a couple of high end coffee places and is planning to buy a house or condo next year.
This isn’t the way I had it worked out in my head when I first started my recovery. I don’t know what “normal” is when it comes to recovering from manic depression. I barely even understand my own recovery. I don’t know if starting over, pretty much from scratch, is something we should expect.
And I think there’s a chance, right now, that I’m pushing myself to move faster than I can. But I think I’m starting to really understand what I’ve given up by waiting so long to start my recovery, to start taking the medications. At least it’s being shown to me again, but this time in more graphic detail.
I’m not sure we should be made responsible for making the first moves back into the lives of the people we remember having cared for. But outside of skywriting I’m not sure how to make it clear to people that I’m ready, almost anyway, to start accepting reservations. The Catch-22, as I see it, is that to find out how far along the scale of sanity we are we need people in our lives as measuring sticks.
But finding those people willing to sit through a test-drive of our shiny, newly restored brains we already need to be acting sane as to not be scaring them off…
Speaking of touching… I nearly slapped my grandmother last week. In fairy tales the step-mother is generally the evil witch, but in my family it’s my moms mother who, when she’s bored, will stick the tip of a knife into your stomach just to see your expression change.
It was my step-grandmother’s birthday and we all gathered at a local restaurant for brunch, I ended up at my grandmother’s end of the table along with my step-sister — who is also lucky enough to have manic depression. Over the past few months my sister has lost some weight, but in a very healthy way and she looks totally healthy. So, of course, my grandmother started asking if she had an eating disorder.
…actually, I guess to my step-sister my grandmother is a step-grandmother, so maybe in this case the fairy tale would be accurate.
In the space of less than three minutes my passive aggressive queen of a grandmother asked my step-sister about her weight no less than six times. She actually said “oh no, you don’t look healthy at all”, even though my sister hasn’t looked better in ten years.
So I leaned over and told my grandmother “hey, shut the fuk up” and was in the process of aiming my large hand in her direction to make the point but my mother grabbed my wrist at the last second. At the same time my sister, who doesn’t have an ounce of deviousness or dishonesty in her body, asked my grandmother a question that shut her up for the rest of the meal. It was beautiful.
My grandmother’s favourite thing in the world is to compare her daughter-in-law to her daughter. My mom can do no right, the daughter-in-law can do no wrong… except she does have a very real and sometimes very noticeable eating disorder. I really don’t think my sister understood the family dynamics when she brought that up, but it was funny to the rest of us.