When many of us come into the rooms of recovery, we have a healthy amount of addiction related damage following us. Today, I saw that my past is a lot like a shark attack.
Let’s say I really want to free dive with sharks, while my significant other is really not keen on the idea. I’ve been bit a few times, and I disclose the dangers associated with it, but she agrees to go with it anyways. It turns out to be a fantastic experience, everyone is happy, and great things happen. One day, though, the significant other gets attacked by one of the sharks.
Here’s where I, as an addict, fall very short. I have lived with the consequences of swimming with the sharks, and paid for my own choices. It sucks. I disclose the dangers associated with it because I know getting bit by a shark sucks, and that not everyone will want to take that risk.
When the shark attacks, yes, I did my due diligence by not hiding anything. Yes, everyone makes their own choices and each person is responsible for their choices. However, if I say, “Just so we’re clear: none of this is my fault,” the chances are pretty high that I’m going to land in some hot water.
Although I don’t realize it at the time, it downplays the effort that someone else put forth on my behalf. Sure, they didn’t have to go shark diving, but a little gratitude for the consideration goes a long way. Internally, yes, many of us alcoholics and addicts feel bad for our past mistakes. We know it sucks, and we wish that the person didn’t have to endure this. We’ve seen it affect those we love every day. As far as my experience goes, I, personally, get desensitized to the pain of those around me after awhile.
To the other person, though, it might appear as though we feel we are owed their sacrifices. From the perspective of the wreckage-endowed alcoholic or addict, though, it can seem to us that just being in a person’s life is inherently a risk, and that damage is sure to follow.
…”And knowing is half the battle,” right?
A lot of us try to describe what those risks really entail, but it doesn’t change the fact that other people are under no obligation to subject themselves to our dysfunction, even if we describe what that dysfunction looks like to the best of our ability.
It isn’t that we don’t feel bad, or don’t appreciate the sacrifices made. For myself, many times it is simply that I see the bad news coming from a mile away and take it for granted.
In recovery, we are so used to seeing the damage that our actions cause, that we can see these things happening in others before they are even on their radar.
We hear the sponsor-free newcomer with a couple days under his belt planning to go into a bar, and warn of the dangers to come because we have been there before. When he comes back recounting the horrible run, we tend to have the attitude of, “We know—we tried to tell you!”
Yet, that newcomer doesn’t see it, and it is important for us to recognize that not that long ago, we didn’t see it coming either. It is in our best interests to recognize the actions of others, or we might be back in their shoes ourselves.
Then again, I may be wrong.
Let’s hear it in the comments!