What a Recovering Addict wants for Christmas

So, what do you want for Christmas?

That’s the question of the season right?

Both clandestinely and up-front-boldly, parents ask it of their children, children ask it of their parents, friends ask one to another, and all are expecting tangible ideas in order to compile their secret lists and sneaky plans…

It is a conversation starter when you are in groups; a good way to get people talking about what their hearts are set on…

the latest gadget,

a new pair of boots,

coveted jewels,

or… money – to get what they really want…

Those are the kind of answers I expected when I asked a small group of men in Recovery what they wanted for Christmas. But it is not the answer I got. Not even close.

Without hesitation, his voice was steady and strong:

“All I want is one more day, just like today, clean and sober.”

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Immediately, my heart melted right into the shape of a large piece of humble pie.  In my asking, I was boldly sneaky in hopes that I would be able to gain insight and surprise these guys with a tangible gift near Christmas Day. Instead, I was stopped in my tracks.

How many of us think, all we want for Christmas is: one more day?

It is a total perspective game changer to think like this! This young man’s answer caused me to realize how very ungrateful I was to not see the preciousness of one more day. Not to see the gift of one more day.

One more day to breathe in the cold winter air and feel the crunch of snow underfoot…

One more day to enjoy a taco on Tuesday…

One more day to laugh with a friend, hug a mom, and sing in the shower!

For those in Recovery, it is a different story. One more day, clean and sober, is one more day to live and enjoy life and the people in their paths.  Too many of these young men know the instability of recovery; too many of these young men have been revived by Narcan and fully know that unexpected deaths occur. Too many of these young men fear that tomorrow may not come.

One more day is a gift for sure.

And so, I ask myself …

If I all I wanted for Christmas was one more day…how would that change my Holiday season?

One more day to cook a meal for those I love…

One more day to give a hug, loan a dollar, listen to a hurting heart…

One more day to laugh and cry and  pray…

One more day to serve my Lord…

The best gifts of this season are those intangibles – the stuff you cannot buy, but that are given by the Father of the Baby Jesus that is so prevalently depicted during this season.  Today, I am thanking my young man friend for the gift he gave me:

… perspective.

I will align myself with him and say, yes – I want the same for Christmas – the best gift:

One more day to wake up and enjoy what God has given me.

What do you want for Christmas?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When a Recovering Addict Mourns

It is morning, but it is dark.
Dark in the sense that everything is just not how it is supposed to be.
Dark, so dark, that I strain to see sense, but there is no sense to see.
This dark weighs like a thousand pound cloud that thunders, waiting to release the torrential rain.
How did it come to this?

Dutifully going through the motions, I slip on my suit coat.
Black. Black as dark as black can be. I feel wound & bound as I enter this day.
Just five months ago he came to the house. I recognized his hesitancy and his lack of admission right away because I had been there myself.
Not that I know it all or have the answers and can say I am free, because, in reality, we are never really free – never free enough to not be concerned.

We all walk a tenuous, tightrope of recovery.

The light begins as a pinhole stream, as hope is recognized and love is allowed in. Gaining steadiness in my walk I can say the brightness of the light grows with each day that I keep my back turned away from the lures that promise things that are not true.

Emotions are hard.
They trigger desires and thoughts to run and hide in the dark spaces and places.

Standing tall I breathe big and my hand slips into my suit coat pocket and feels a single, soft tissue. This suit was borrowed by him who came to the house five months ago. He wore it to his friends funeral. Yes… this was his tissue with his tears dried on it from just a few weeks ago. And now, here I stand, wearing the same suit, needing a tissue of my own. I pull it out and let the soft crumbled mass sit cradled in my hand like a treasure; the treasure of a friendship now lost.

Death is so very dark.
Why couldn’t I have helped him better to see the light more clearly?
Emotions; damn emotions!
Begging, they seductively whisper to me…
the darkness that thunders with the weight of rain, beckons.
That tenuous, tightrope is before me. Can I still walk it?

I am paralyzed in the moment.

Without any more hesitation, I carefully place the crumpled tissue back into my pocket. And my heart weeps a message: Dear friend, I will miss you. I am sorry I couldn’t change your mind.

And so, I step out and balance my footing…
Sober. Yes, sober, I decide on it.
And I leave the dark rumble behind me.

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My son was just barely five months clean in recovery when one of his good friends died of an overdose via a medicine laced with fentanyl. He was crushed. He wept and stuffed that crumpled tissue into his suit coat pocket.

Just about six weeks later, it was my son who died of an overdose involving fentanyl.

I cannot help but think about the impact that drug related deaths have on those who are in recovery; I imagine it frays the end of the tightrope.

Emotions are hard. Death by drugs is a slap of reality across the face that forces a hard look at mortality and threatens the recovering addicts ability to keep walking that tenuous tight rope.

As my son’s friends in recovery came to his memorial service, they wept and were crushed too.  My heart feared for each one of them.

For real, just weeks later, I watched these same friends weep over another friend who died of an overdose; It was horribly overwhelming. What bold resolve it takes to keep on going forward in recovery when friends are dying all around them.

How can we help?  We can help by being purposeful in our love and support for those  who struggle every day to keep sober and clean. Acknowledge their strength and resiliency to keep going when fear rises up and they doubt their next day will be successful. Keep reaching out and hoping and be there when they need you.

Most of all, pray.