But it doesn’t feel very different, if you stop to think for a moment, even if your life has taken a complete 180. That is until we’re confronted with how our life “used to be” and that is meant in the most negative sense. Today I came face to face with what my life used to be like at probably close to my lowest point as an “adult”. I did some volunteer work at our local BIG flea market for a friend.
Why was this such a negative experience? Well, after I moved out at 19 I hooked up with well, a low life. Charming as hell, sexy, and addictive but still, a low life. We lived in basically the skid drug row of a small town and while she promised to quit dealing / taking “substances” after we got together, it wasn’t long before that behavior was back, but behind my back. I wasted 4 and a half LONG years with this waste-oid and many weekends were spent at places like the flea market because she loved to shop. Her addictions were many and that was, at least for me as a beeper, probably the worst.
Being there today, the smells, the people, and unfortunately, one of people who worked at the booth area I was helping out in who was heavily into the “substance culture”, brought back how awful that time in my life really was. How I dissociated every day because of the sheer squalor I was living in and being around her lowlife friends, going out every weekend to the bars, spending week nights alone as she was “out”. How I looked away as she cut up an 8 ball to sell. How I blinded myself to her “side projects (people)” especially as she overlapped a new relationship before ours finally, at about dang time, ended.
Sitting there this afternoon, listening to a person talking about the culture, the friends in and out, their own sobriety as they bartered for a beer, the sheer disgust and hypocrisy, I felt physically ill. As soon as it was polite to, I excused myself and thanked my “friend” for the chance to get out and test myself with some volunteer work and walked quickly to my car.
Today’s experience was significant for a number of reasons. You see, 3 years ago I couldn’t get out of bed. 2 years ago I didn’t last an hour volunteering at the local library before a horrible panic attack sent me scampering home. Today was all about seeing where I am now in my mood disorder recovery. The good news: I helped out for over 2 hours with no anxiety, no panic, handled the traffic and was able to work with others. The better news: I got a chance to see how far I truly have come from the person I was 20 years ago as well.
As I sit here in my clean, lovely home, in our wonderful neighborhood, with money in the bank, a 401k, a fantastic marriage of over 18 years, and intelligent, healthy, normal friends, I am grateful to the depths of my soul. Grateful for having escaped my toxic, abusive family of origin, my early relationship/living mistakes, and for busting my butt in recovery. I am grateful that I helped out at the flea market today, grateful because in looking back I can see how far I’ve come, how different, and even with it’s challenges, healthier my life is now. I can be grateful for the person I’ve become, warts and all, because she is a far healthier and happier person than my 22 year old self could have ever dreamed of becoming.
This was a hard post to share but sometimes a person needs a serious reality slap to fully appreciate their life “now”. And to be careful not to take it for granted. And I am so, so very grateful!
Perspective. Sometimes you need a glimpse of where you came from to fully embrace who you’ve become. But a glimpse is enough. Look, appreciate, and walk forward!
- Self Empowerment Series Part Two: Volunteer Your Own Way (teatofriends.com)
- Panic! At my house (missdei.wordpress.com)
- Panic Attack (caitlinsong.wordpress.com)
- How can I leverage volunteer work on my CV? (career-advice.monster.co.uk)
- Looking Forward or Back? (thedistinctdot.com)
- Motivational Moment: Drive Forward! (catalyst4positiveaction.wordpress.com)