I’ve been lost for a long time. Sometimes it feels like I’m a casualty of my own narrative, sometimes like I’m a victim of circumstance.
Lately I’ve felt like I’m being attacked by my recovery.
It’s as though behind every door my recovery opens, there’s an empty room. Every time I try to reach out to someone who used to be a part of my life, there’s just an empty space. When there’s a warm body, I’m ignored or told my untreated behaviours make the relationship impossible.
I feel as though my recovery is putting me at risk of a relapse, or maybe dragging new causes for deep depressions into my life.
I literally, for example, have no one in my life now except my girlfriend and my son. Whatever friendships I had ten years ago, are gone. Evaporated. When I started my recovery, in order for it to work, I had to make myself the priority. I relied on people to contact me, in order for friendships to continue I needed them to come to me.
But very few of them did. Very few made the call to find out how I was, very few made it a point to knock on my door to find out if I were still alive.
This was something I worried about a lot when I first entered treatment. Not enough to prevent me from entering recovery though, I was as close to being dead as I ever want to be, and treatment was the only way back from the brink.
But the idea that I’d wake up and not recognize myself, or wake up into an empty life, was something I considered on a regular basis.
Six or seven years later I do recognize myself, I do know who I am, but I have woken up to find out the people I once considered friends have moved on without me, to the point where we don’t even recognize each other anymore.
There have been four incidents recently which have shown me just how far gone the situation has become.
The first was my neighbour’s insane rant when I asked him to put his fire out — the smoke had once again filled my apartment. In the middle of everything he almost stopped, or paused, and laid out his own judgment on my life.
Keeping in mind we’ve been neighbours for almost six years, but we’ve never spoken, he told me I was an “asshole” for forcing my “wife” to live in another apartment in our building. He told me I was an “asshole” for being on welfare, and I was an “asshole” for forcing my landlord’s son to mow my lawn.
As he’s wandering around his backyard yelling this nonsense — I’m not married, or on welfare, and I pay rent so my landlord will mow my lawn — I was thinking “nobody in this town knows me. I am totally fucking alone in this town.”
I’ve never been able to make a connection here, because I’ve either been too sick, or too involved in my own recovery, so now who I am has been left to the perception of people like my neighbour.
I came back here, to a village that’s about as close to Home as I’ve ever gotten, because of the familiarity, because of my parents being here, and because I thought the friends I had here would be an important part of my recovery. But, six years later, there’s no one to speak for me when an ignorant ass starts bellowing insults.
The next incident was a week later when I quit Facebook.
At the very end I sent a message out to some people I wanted to maintain some level of contact with. I sent out the URL to my photo blog, and my email address, mostly to people I graduated college with, people I had worked with, people I blog with, and a few people from high school.
…turns out I screwed up and some people got the message twice, and some not at all. Regardless…
Just before I made the deletion official, I received a “Reply All” response from someone I haven’t seen, or spoke to, since college. I was, she said, an “asshole” and there’d be no way she’d be interested in contacting me.
…the fact she “Friended” me while believing I was an asshole is just another reason why I dislike the platform so much.
I’ve never held any illusions about my behaviour in college. I was untreated and… erratic. My inability to think through some situations led to my being in an almost permanent state of anger, my manic outbursts of energy which, in one instance, led to the destruction of the television news clippings for the entire class… and I was laughing while doing it.
Plus the sex stuff. I dated a few of the women in my class, and in one particular incident I treated one of them very badly. I wrote about this recently…
Again, I’ve always known about the destructive behaviours, and even in some cases understood how much they hurt the people around me, but I also thought people understood what caused those behaviours.
The third incident was the day after I deleted my Facebook account.
I was in the local convenience store waiting to be served when the younger brother of someone I once considered one my best friends walked in. His brother was someone who let me live in his basement so I wouldn’t be homeless. I took photos of his band for two years in Toronto. I’ve met the younger brother, and hung out over drinks with him…
I was just happy to see a familiar face, but it was pretty obvious that’s all I was to him in that moment… familiar, but not friendly. It had been too long, his life had continued — he and his older brother have a successful brewery, and I haven’t been able to maintain contact with them.
The fourth incident came from my step-father. Two weeks ago my mother asked me to help my step-father with a huge landscaping project. That night he took me out, showed me the plans, talked about what I could do to help, told me he’d even pay me for the work.
Then he told me he’d call me to let me know when to start. He’s been very reluctant to rely on my help over the past few years, because in the beginning of my recovery I was so unreliable and unable to maintain any focus.
So I was really happy to be asked to help with such a large job — it involved moving about five tonnes of flagstone.
Unfortunately he never called. I’ve asked him about the job a few times since our first meeting, and each time he tells me he’ll call me. But he hasn’t, and the job is just about done now.
My step-father sent an email to my psychiatrist after I moved back home, complaining that whatever treatment plan we were working on couldn’t possibly be working because it had been three months and I was still unable to be outside for more than a few minutes at a time.
He still doesn’t know I read it — in Canada a psychiatrist has to hand over any correspondence he receives regarding the patient.
And he hasn’t changed. To him I’m still three months into recovery, and he can’t trust me.
It honestly feels as though he hasn’t noticed any change, or any progress in my recovery. It feels like no one’s around to notice the changes… my parents have never understood, or shown a willingness to even try to understand, anything about the disease beyond what they’ve witnessed through my behaviour.
Which is like trying to understand a tornado from deep inside the root cellar while it passes overhead.
So what I’ve been left with, after six difficult years of hard work and saving my own life, is an empty room.
It almost feels as though I’m supposed to make amends to these people. Apologize for doing the insane things this disease made me think were sane at the time. Apologize for the abuses I’ve done to others in the name of abuses done to me.
Maybe that’s the next stage of my recovery… making some people at least understand that I’m not the same person anymore, and letting others know I still value their friendship, even if it hasn’t shown for so long.
I don’t think I can just walk away from people who, maybe not so much now, but back in the day meant so much to me. But, at the same time… I may have been an “asshole” to some, but a lot of them walked away from me.
I think the only way the next stage of my recovery even gets started is if I go out and start finding these people, because none of them are seeking me out. Figuring out who I hurt might be the first step. Making a list or something.