This Summer, just a week after I wrote the previous post about suicide, a young friend of mine died after checking in to a motel room. (No gender, age, name or location will be used in this article. ) They died in a way that made the autopsy inconclusive, leaving behind friends and family who were completely devastated.
I don't know why I felt compelled to write the article on seeking help, but I do think there is a reason . I think that we all are connected in some way, that what we do and how we choose to deal with our lives and the inevitable problems and pain that are part of being aware and human, do affect the world and especially the people close to us.
In this case addiction was a long term problem in the life of this person. There are addictive tendencies in my family too. I have, over the years , attended Al-Anon and Narc-Anon meetings for family members while I tried to understand what sends a good person down the road of self medicating and , eventually, self destruction.
Those were good places to go for commiseration but not for the basic understanding I was seeking. I took a minor in Psychology while at University, and worked for a program in the Psychology department while trying to learn more about the unexplained need to alter yourself mentally and physically.
I learned about various kinds of trauma, events that trigger emotional and physical reactions years later. I went through years of therapy, went to group therapy, and even interviewed neurologists, psychiatrists and psychologists while working on a program combining equine and art therapy.
In the end, when yet another young friend died while under the influence of drugs and alcohol (there have been four very close to me, all from good families who's parents worked hard and loved them) and a whole section of my family who lived in chaos and went to prison, are convicted felons (three of them) and my response was the same each time. WHY? Why would anyone want to hide inside a drug or bottle? WHY? How could they waste even one opportunity to learn, to fail and get up, move forward and try again?
I've studied brain injuries and trauma, psychosis, genetics, and the long term effects of poor nutrition, use of addictive drugs and alcohol, lack of exercise, lack of sleep on the human body while I try to untangle a complicated problem that was never really mine to solve. I know that it's always the person who injures their self repeatedly who has to answer that one word question. WHY? It really is up to them to ask it in the first place and then take the first frightening steps to change a terrible pattern. They need to find out HOW to help their body, mind and soul recover and stay in the game longer.
I absolutely know that. I've participated in interventions before. Mostly an intervention is exposing the bald truth and waiting for the denial and blame to come at the person who opens the rabbit's hole and makes people look down it. No one wants to hear the truth, at least not initially. Denial is a form of self preservation. None of us wants to hear that we've become enablers or addicted. Admitting to either of those positions or conditions makes us vulnerable. We end up being exposed. Others will see our ugly under belly, the failures, weakness. Society has a tendency to denigrate the addict and the enabler. Historically people like that have been cast out of families, villages and towns because they endanger others as well as using precious resources that are needed to keep people alive through the winter and spring while waiting for food sources to become available.
I don't have any definitive answers. There are experts who've researched at a deeper level than I have who can give you more insight. For me? I'm still reeling from the loss of another young friend to years of self abuse. I'm still loosing sleep, crying when the light is a certain color or I hear a song that makes me think of my friend. And the question will always be unanswered for me ; WHY? There is no solution. They're gone and there is no do over, no more chances to try, no way to answer that one word question. Their circle is completed.
I am going to listen more to the inner voice that tells me to write about a subject that isn't usually talked about here. It was a warning that I did not heed and I am sorry for that. And I will call people I love just to hear their voices, to ask how their day is going. The old Girl Scout in me will keep working at being kind, helpful, respect others and offer a hand up when they fall. And I will do my best with what I have where I am and try to complete the project, reach the goal.
I have no doubt that I will continue to make mistakes, bump in to people, create messes and fail on a regular basis. But I'm also going to keep loving myself and the people around me enough to apologize where it is warranted, to understand the value of boundaries and to celebrate the chance to try again; to learn, laugh about it and go on from there. Life is a never ending chance to explore, to become, to grow, change, and to find creative solutions.
“You will lose someone you can’t live without,and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly—that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.”
― Anne Lamott
― Anne Lamott
I am, ever yours, Nancy, smiling and remembering, and questioning...
PS. And there will be flowers planted to celebrate the life of a friend who brought me great joy!