More

Days sober: 377

The fear has fallen away leaving space for MORE.

Living with and loving an actively using addict was maddening, soul crushing, chaos. Prison walls closing in, life a small cell. There was only room for fear.

I never want to go back.

On October 8, 2017 my husband celebrated one year of sobriety from opioid addiction. When he first returned home from rehab, before he even stepped off the plane, the fear was intense and pervasive. It was different than pre-rehab, having evolved from fear of death and overdose to fear of relapse. So my husband came home, 45 days clean, and I continued the hard work of letting go and self care. Presently, three hundred and thirty something days later, we gaze forward to more one-day-at-a-time days of recovery, and the fear rolls out like ocean tide, our life transformed into a state of ease. There is a natural rhythm in which our daily routines and interactions have settled like dust from whipping cyclone winds, gently covering soft sheets and surfaces in an old home that is US.

There is less fear here, leaving room for MORE. More joy, more connection, more gratitude, more love, more productivity. There is also space for more despair. A different despair. Mourning for the country and the world. These past weeks my heart broke over and over again for my people and island Puerto Rico. It is still breaking. These past weeks my husband and I also celebrated 365 days clean.

Anxiety, sadness, and stress is a sleep killer.

Last night I awoke at 4 am. Not wide awake, but with heavy sand filled eyes and a cloudy head that comes from drowsiness and deprived sleep. I spent some time filling an Amazon basket with solar lanterns, chargers, and lifestraw personal water filters to send to Puerto Rico. I also wept. My sober husband lay beside me in bed asleep.

My mind finally lulled me back to sleep around 5 am with an hour left until my alarm to get up for work was set. Grief gently rocked me to slumber where I was greeted with outstretched nightmare arms.

In the nightmare, I am unpacking my husband’s backpack after our trip to Acadia, Maine. This is a very serious backpack with endless pockets. I open the bottom compartment and discover a plastic ziploc bag filled with pills. I am overcome with dread and sorrow, desperately planning what to do next. Flush pills? Confront my husband with pills? Call family first? Waves of fear roll back in, perfectly imitating past reality. In nightmare, the terror of addiction returns. Recovery, security, life, robbed from me in that one moment.

JUST. LIKE. THAT.

In September, before Hurricane Irma and Maria, Jim and I went to Acadia, Maine. We celebrated his birthday and recovery. We celebrated life.

Anticipating his one year clean date and experiencing miraculous Mother Nature in Acadia National Park, our time there was an intense experience of joy. Joy in a pure form, rare and precious.

We drove up to Cadillac Mountain to watch the sunrise at 4:30 am our last morning and I wrote this:

We stand perched upon mountain top. It is cloudy here. A foggy, gray mist creeps, encircling our bodies. It is divine near sky but it is cold, and the wind whips, battering exposed faces, hands, skin. Elevated above world, we pray for a glimpse of the rising sun, one small break, one ray, as we patiently wait in the dark. We are not disappointed, it just is. Then we descend mountain and travel winding roads. It is down at the bottom where we finally see the sun. Below on earth, she rises above and we realize this is where we are meant to be.

You imagine you will be reborn in the sky, but it took descent back to the earth. On earth, balancing upon rocky terrain, our feet planted in fertile soil, beside majestic green pines, and sea battered cliffs. Soaked hair and eyelashes, salty spray from turbulent tide’s whirlpools traveling between boulders. The mysterious, violent, and deep ocean waters surrounding. It is here, at the bottom, below sky and sun where we sense belonging. Connected to the chaotic, imperfect, divine, living, dying, wet, pine, muddy, salty, treacherous, grieving, wild, animal, rocky earth. Ours is not a journey in flight to heaven. It is not exaltation to sky. It is a labor—trekking upon treacherous terrain. It is kneeling, muddy knees in the dirt, palms of hands and heart down to granite earth.

Back in my bed, my husband asleep beside me, I wake up to the 6 am alarm. No bag of pills. He is still sober. 377 days sober. The only pills are left behind in my nightmare.

The relief floods my body and brain. I now see that the dream offered opportunity to revisit past trauma, give gratitude, and offer perspective. To awaken fear and then tuck it away. To once again open space for MORE. Space for joy in spite of, within, beside Puerto Rico’s despair.

A waking moment that brought sky down to earth.

This post is for the people who labor upon blood and sweat stained earth. Special dedication to my husband, everyone fighting the opioid epidemic, and to my beloved people struggling to survive in Puerto Rico.

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18 thoughts on “More

  1. Thank you for sharing this beauty-both the beauty of Maine and your heart. My son has been opioid free for over 7 years but that little tucked away fear does tend to rise from the ashes occassionally. He has a new addiction called “the great Outdoors”. It mimics every aspect of addiction except the substance. I am grateful that it is nature and hopeful that it will heal him back to life. My father was born and grew up in Maine. He has passed from this earth. Your blog was very special to me in that way. I miss my papa.
    Bless you my sister! You brought a tear to my eyes. Eyes that have not experienced many tears of joy. Thank you.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Blessings back to you! I am so glad I could bring heartwarming feelings about your beloved papa. 7 years is an amazing inspiration to me and my husband, but you’re right, the fear will always be there after watching a loved one struggle with ruthless addiction to opioids. I am so happy you are here to share what is in my heart with me, thank you for receiving it so openly…that’s what it is all about. Lots of loving kindness and prayers your way.

      Like

  2. Dreams can be powerful and scary. My drunk dream is always the same, I’ve been lying to everyone about not drinking the entire time I’ve been sober. But they are only dreams.

    I’m so glad that you guys are doing well. I loved the pictures of Acadia — one of my favorite places on earth.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It was our first time to Acadia and it’s insanely beautiful there.

      I think the one year anniversary and other anxieties I am feeling, contributed to that nightmare, milestones do that. Waking up to a sober reality is an amazing feeling, and a reminder of how deeply grateful I am for my husband’s sobriety. Reminder that the work never ends as well.
      Thanks for stopping by Damien!
      M

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Beautiful place you went to visit. I hope to make it out there one day, after hubs retires!
    Happy One Year to your husband!
    I know my husband worries now and then about me relapsing. But he can’t put into words what you just did.
    I just know by his face.
    Hugs to you!
    xo
    Wendy

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Acadia is absolutely magical and stunning! When you visit, because you have to, you must tell me since we are south in Massachusetts, perhaps we could meet. Would love to sit over coffee with you in real life.
      Xoxo
      M

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  4. Very cool! Congrats on every single second of clean time!!! I used to make a big deal out of things that i dont even give a second thought to these days. Stress i mean. Iused to make big deals out of nothing because it was what i mastered as an active addict. Progress not perfection right? It is said that, ” one could search his whole life for the perfect blossom and not find it and it wouldn’t be considered a wasted life”. Not sure where i read that but it didnt make much sense to me until recenrly. I hope it is useful to you both! Keep on shining! Stay up…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Great quote. Yes I totally agree, perfection is never the goal, and the construct of perfection is often created for marketing purposes and not to support our health, it is sometimes even destructive, and well being. Thank you for your supportive wishes, many many congratulations to you as well on your sobriety. You are strong and resilient! All the best-
      M

      Liked by 1 person

  5. The reality isn’t behind you but he nightmares persist. Even in paradise.

    I get it. I don’t know that they ever should either. I don’t know Jim’s story but I know mine and the people who were closest to me were the ones I hurt the hardest. Nothing wrong with a healthy fear, I think.

    But I do hate those nightmares. I can’t shake them. They linger through my morning. Make it hard to function.

    Great piece, as always, M.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Mark. Yes I agree some healthy fear to remind us to stay vigilant and keep putting in the work.
      You’re so right those nightmare do linger. If there is any positive it’s the relief and gratitude that they remain in dreams and we can wake up to recovery and sobriety.
      All the best-
      M

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your wishes. Congratulations on your recovery and success in sobriety, it really is a beautiful thing.

      To less relapse dreams and more dinosaur dreams! And forever years of sobriety one day at a time. Roar!!!

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  6. “Ours is not a journey in flight to heaven. It is not exaltation to sky. It is a labor—trekking upon treacherous terrain. It is kneeling, muddy knees in the dirt, palms of hands and heart down to granite earth.” ❤ Amen sister. Praying.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This is so lovely, Maharu.
    I am always blown away at just how loving you are towards your husband, and about his sobriety, and that sounds strange to say, but so many spouses and family members are often so hurt by an addicts / alcoholic’s behaviour that it takes a long time for partners to find that love again. Many couples break apart. Many spouses aren’t particularly interested in their partner’s sober life (meetings, etc.). But you are so very by his side. It’s a wonderful thing to see.

    Thanks again for this – and a belated congrats to your husband on his one year clean time!

    Blessings to you both,

    Paul

    Like

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