Jumping in Puddles

I saw this video once of a young man jumping in puddles with friends on a cloudy day. He jumps from one puddle to the next while water splashes and stains his clothing. Suddenly, it starts pouring rain. You can hear thunder booming in the background and see lightning crackling in the sky. Everyone else around him starts running for shelter…even the person holding the camera tries to convince him to leave, but he brushes them off as if they are overreacting and keeps jumping as if nothing has changed.

When I watched that video, I understood why he didn’t run. He was probably thinking, “We are already wet! What is the point of running for shelter now?” In his desire for excitement, he completely neglects to address the danger of those bright bursts of light in the sky.

He decided to make one final leap into an oversized puddle right in front of him, but when he landed his entire body disappeared as it sank beneath the surface.

Turns out, it wasn’t a puddle at all, but a drain hole that was missing its cover…filled to the brim with rain, runoff and regret. Just like so many things in life, something so dangerous was disguised as something completely innocent; fun even!

If you watch that video in slow motion, you will see how quickly that young man’s face twists from pure joy to utter horror.  You can see the combination of fear and regret in his eyes the moment he realizes he is being sucked into the abyss. It sent shivers down my spine.

One moment he was having fun with his friends, and the next he was all alone, drowning at the bottom of a sink hole.

I imagine this must have been what my life looked like the moment I crossed that fine line between drinking socially with friends to full blown alcoholism.

I can still feel the dizzying confusion of it all, asking myself how the hell I got there. Where did everybody go? How am I supposed to get out of here? I was just jumping in puddles like everyone else, what’s the big deal? Who’s going to rescue me?

The difference between me my friends, I have learned, is that I had a one way ticket to destination addiction, and my friends were simply passengers who had agreed to get me there safely.  They had no intention of staying there with me and were completely unaware that they were about to witness the glorious train wreck that was to become my life.

My first year of recovery was one of the most terrifying years of my life. There are hardly words to describe the pain I felt inside of my mind and body. I was spiritually bankrupt and could barely stomach the sight of myself in the mirror. It physically hurt to remember things I didn’t want to remember, or talk about things I didn’t want to talk about, or take responsibility for things I was ashamed to take responsibility for.

I was broken…shattered into a million pieces, some so tiny you would swear they were just dust. It takes time to work through pain like that, to put all the pieces back together again, and that is assuming you can find them all. Patience was not my strong suit…but I learned.

In the book A Wrinkle in Time, Magdeleine L’Engle wrote, “The unending paradox is that we do learn through pain.” I am still remembering things from time to time that I had forced myself to forget. These memories strike me like a bolt of lightning; the intense sting of a wound that hasn’t quite healed yet. Today, I have learned to tend to those wounds immediately, so that the infection doesn’t spread to my blood stream.

The most recent examples are that I used to hide vodka bottles in my daughter’s diaper bag when sneaking them into my house at night only to worry that I had forgotten one in there after dropping her off at her babysitters the next morning,  or the time I was going through withdrawals and hallucinated someone pounding on my front door, only to find nobody there when I opened it. And I sit and think to myself, “What kind of person, what kind of mother does things like that?”

An alcoholic, that’s who. A woman who has completely lost herself and had no clue the damage she had done to her body, mind and spirit.

I was always acting on impulse; alcohol first, worry about the consequences second. I didn’t worry about what would happen because, quite frankly, I had lost the ability to care. Almost like that moment when you stick your bare toes under running water to test the temperature for your bath. For a brief moment in time, your brain cannot distinguish between hot and cold. If you hold your foot under the water for too long you will inevitably feel the sting of one extreme or the other. Most people are born with the good sense to pull their foot away immediately, allowing their brain time to process the information it’s just been presented. Me? I liked to watch as my foot changed colors underneath the water; from a pale pink to a creamy strawberry to fire engine red. In the back of my mind I knew this wouldn’t end well, and yet it was only after I pulled my foot away and found myself hopping around the bathroom on one foot that I started to regret my decision.

In a strange way, I welcomed pain. Pain gave me an excuse to return to the comfort of my alcoholism; a place where I knew I would not be required to feel anything at all.

Sometimes, I need to feel the pain of my actions in order to learn from them…and sometimes, I need to feel that pain over and over again until I understand that I am the only one who can pull my foot away from the water.

Contrary to what most believe, pain is a sign of living. I spent a decade of my life avoiding pain; numbing myself to all of life’s most beautiful and heartbreaking moments. I don’t believe I ever would have truly discovered how extraordinary life’s smallest blessings could be had I not first experienced the complete demoralization of my own existence. In a strange way, I am grateful for the pain I’ve experienced. Without it, I wouldn’t know gratitude today.

16 thoughts on “Jumping in Puddles

  1. Two years and seven months later, I still lay in bed sometimes and play the mental movie montage of terrible things I did before. But I do know it doesn’t play for as long, or nearly as often, as it did before. Thank God! I couldn’t do that every night for the rest of my life. The important thing is that you are creating a whole lifetime of better memories now, and appreciating the difference. Great post!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you! I can relate to the “movie montage” comment! I too like to give myself a good emotional lashing from time to time. But you are right! They are far less than what they were, which shows a great deal of progress. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment. I appreciate you!

      Xoxo Vanessa

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great analogy! Thanks for sharing. I’ve been doing this sobriety thing for a year. I’ve had about 75% success. Better than no success, but still a work in progress. I’m learning to live through pain, disappointment, anxiety, etc. I can relate to the uncomfortable memories. They replay often. It’s comforting to know that it does get better. Keep sharing and blogging! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you! 75% is great! I didn’t have 100% success at first either. I tried for years before I finally found long term recovery. The important thing is that you never give up on yourself! EVER! 🙂 One day you will wake up and it will all make sense, and 75% will become 100% from that point forward. Congratulations on choosing a life of recovery! It’s not easy, but it is sooo worth it!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great share V. One of the main reasons I relapse from sobriety is not coping with emotional pain, guilt and sadness in a healthy pure way. I can be critical of others and mean spirited with the goal to isolate and carry out my addiction. Thank you for another article I can relate to.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! I am so happy you can relate to my writing! It’s another reminder that we are NEVER alone in our journeys! Just keep working at your sobriety and don’t give up on yourself! Learn from each relapse. As long as you continue to learn and grow, you will one day experience long-term sobriety! Proud of you!

      Like

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