Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Alkaline Inspiration

Avoidance is one of the old addict qualities I tend to carry over to today.  When I do not want to deal with something, I tend to put it off, going numb a little more about it each day, until I am finally ready to deal with it.  Seems like today, when I finally come to deal with what I have been avoiding, it is really much easier than I had previously imagined.

Today, for instance, I finally to decided to clean out my car, getting it ready to be turned back into the dealership.  I have been avoiding dealing with it because I had hoped to be able to buy the car once the two-year-lease my parents gave me for my college graduation was over, but things did not work out that way.  I have been avoiding dealing with all the old feelings of failure, as I tried desperately to avoid sorting them out.

My heart was heavy as I headed out to get the vehicle ready for inspection, with my headphones plugged into my ears.  It is amazing how music touches us in our lives, speaking right to that very minute we are living in, guiding us to the answers we seek.  Regret filled my heart, as I took all my possessions out of this much beloved vehicle.  And a familiar guitar string echoed in my headphones, bringing me back to the last time I used this song in a podcast.   Alkaline Trio’s Fine.

I love Alkaline Trio.  Maybe I am getting softer in my old age, but it seems to me that Matt Skiba and I walk in very similar shoes.  Each song speaks to me, singing softly of some strange part of my past, present, or even future.  And it is always changing.  “Fine” came acoustically drifting out of my iPod, reminding me of this song I have always loved.  And much like good music often does, “Fine” spoke to me in a totally different light today…and it was just the light I needed to see the signs. 

I used this song as an intro to a podcast done last spring, softly dancing with photos and videos from leaving New Orleans, in the beginning of a storm, clean and sober, six years after Hurricane Katrina saved my life.   In the spring, “Fine” reminded me of my mindset in those first two years following the storm, constantly reminding myself that I was Fine, although I had lost my superpowers.   And at the time, I really was not Fine, as I struggled with sobriety.

Hurricane Katrina stripped me of my heroin habit, leaving me in this devoid blank for a number of years, refusing to see that maybe I really was not Fine.  For a few years, I struggled with my recovery.  I struggled with my life, and it seemed to be spinning much faster than I could even imagine, one decision stacked upon another until they all seemed to come snowballing into a vast life change.  For two years, I tried to drink my problems away, and I convinced myself that everything around me was Fine.  Everything inside me was Fine, and I could finally sleep again at night.  Sometimes. 

I used this song for the intro of a podcast, depicted my departure from New Orleans, years later, just before I begin to narrate about returning to the scene of the crime in my recovery.  It once reminded me of being lost, but today the song spoke differently to me.  Letting me know, that this time…I really am Fine.   Maybe for the first time ever, I realize I really am Fine.

Tears streamed down my face, as I packed up a disappointed part of my life.  But, my disappointments are different today, because today I try to do everything that I can in most situations.  I recently lost my job, and I realize that I did the best I could possibly do, and the loss was not because I did not put my best into it…but simply because it is what it is. 

In recovery, we learn to accept the things we cannot change, and this was just one of those things that I could not change.  I press on with my own projects, stuttering and stammering along the way, as some of my dreams seem to be slipping back down the toilet again.  But, this time, I realize that I must accept these things I cannot change, and I am thankful to have a wonderful husband in my life, that is also in recovery, that helps me make decisions with a clear head, and with complete acceptance of the situation.  I am thankful to be able to make my own decisions, weighing in all the options and choices, rather than merely a rash reaction to some trigger. 

I am often one who does not really like acceptance.  But in my recovery, I am learning to accept.  I usually avoid before I will begin to look at acceptance.  I guess we all have things we constantly work at; things of the addict brain that still rule us today.  And avoidance is my tactic to defer acceptance of the truth.  It gets easier over time, though.   Acceptance comes faster and easier, while the avoidance becomes fewer and farther between.

Today, I try to everything in my power to make all the positive choices I need to make to create the best life for my family.  Today, I work hard to bring something to the table, and I work hard to keep my plans moving forward.  And when it does not work out, I realize I did everything I could, so must accept it exactly as it is.   Even though that acceptance is sometimes tough. 

Which brings me back to the car.  I had planned to buy it.  I really wanted to buy it, and I also know that is what my parents had also hoped for.  But, as I cleaned it out, with this heavy regret in my heart, I realized that I simply am not in the position to buy it right now.  And that is the best decision I could make.  And after all, my parents just want me to make the best decisions that I can, right?  And after five years clean, I am simply trying to make better decisions along the way.   And trying to accept it all, just the way it is.  Finding the way to sift through the mire, being appreciate and grateful for what I do have, while gaining the strength and insight to press on.

Sure, I could have chosen to go work at a bank instead of taking this wonderful and random opportunity that was offered to me.  Sure, I could have started packing money away, working a 9 to 5 before I graduated, and never taken this chance with my writing.  But, I did not.  And I do not regret that one single bit. 

Granted, I am getting rid of my car, and I have spent the last week standing in government-issue lines, I am also thankful to have been given the chance to follow my dream of writing.  I am so thankful to have built up a small following of readers, and I am not ready to give up on all that just yet.   I am thankful that my writing has the power to help others who have been touched by addiction, and I know today my word really means something, because today I really am Fine. 

I have faith that if I do everything I can, I will be able to accept whatever comes of it all.   And as I wiped the tears from my eyes, while I striped this vehicle down of everything that belongs to me, stripping down the memories and cataloguing them in my brain, as I realized that an era has passed, and suddenly things are completely different.  And completely better. 

Skiba’s voice rings clear through my headphones, reminding me…that this time, I really am Fine.  This time, I am doing my part, and I am Fine.  I have faith that everything works out for a reason.  And I know, for the first time ever…that I really am Fine.  Thank you, Alkaline Trio, for showing me the light today in your lyrics.

Click here to listen to Alkaline Trio's "Fine." 


  1. What makes you think it is okay to choose not to work and live off those that do because you want to pursue "your dream of writing"? You still sound like an entitled junkie. Plenty of people work a full time job and pursue writing, or whatever else they want to do, when they are not working. That's what people with self respect do.

  2. At Anon...I am not sure what led you to believe I am choosing not to work. I am actually working on various projects, as well as applying to every job known to man. Of course I did not go on about all the details because that is not important to my audience. I have been unemployed for only a month, and have enough self respect to still put food on my child's plate in the meantime. We all go through hard times, whether we are in or out of recovery, and I am thankful to be able to maintain my self respect while still providing for my family. Again, we all are different, and entitled to our own opinions. In my recovery, i try hard to look at things with a positive lens, and not to bash those who I do not agree with. I try to be pragmatic about everything, letting my anger go, even against "the self-entitled junkie." Honestly, you may want to evaluate your motives behind the comment, as I amy not be the only one with who could benefit from recovery....

  3. Also, I would like to add to Anon, I have gained a lot of self respect in my recovery, and yet I am not afraid to ask for help when I need it. In my addiction, I lost a lot of self respect, and I have worked hard to gain it back, even if it is one little piece at a time. For some who knew me back then, and I suspect you know what I am talking about:) ...I had probably lost my self respect to a degree it could never be replaced. I am grateful that I have also been able to fill that cup of self respect in my recovery. And I will not lose that while in between jobs...I will not lose that over something so insignificant and ever-changing as freelance work. And for that, too, I am grateful. In order to gain my self respect, I had to come face to face with all the past demons, and let go of all the anger and resentment. I took blame for my part, and I am also grateful for every single thing that happened because it brought me to where I am today. And today, I am happy. Today, I am at peace with it all. I hope everyone out there can make their peace with the past. :)