Getting sober is a time for letting things go.
More often then not, it’s letting go of a lot more than alcohol or drugs. It’s letting go of people, places, and things that are irrevocably tied to your substance abuse.
I’ve had to face this. And, in both rehab and AA meetings it’s a subject that seems to continually be revisited. It’s a pretty difficult thing to face. It’s hard enough that I’ve given up liquor, but now I have to give up personalities, places, and objects that have had real meaning in my life for a long time as well.
At a recent AA meeting a young man, who could not have been more than 24 or so, talked about returning to his hometown, and having to face his old “homies” with whom he used to drink and use. He said he grew up in a small town and most of his peers were either dead, in jail, or still feeding their addictions and menacing society. He himself had just been released from a year and a half jail sentence for auto theft and burglary. For such a young man, he spoke with the wisdom of a 60 year old. He knew that in going back home, he would have to face old friends who were in the same state he had left them in before he went to prison. He, however, has his sobriety. In part, purely to his incarceration, but, he also found AA and NA through the prison system and has committed himself to staying sober now that he’s out.
How do we face these people and places where we did our damage? It could be a city, or, it could be as localized as a single bar.
If you’ve done your homework in AA, you know that you can only expect to change yourself. To expect others to change, or to even understand your changing, is really beside the point. If they want to stay at the bar, that’s their prerogative. But, what happens when I walk into the bar, now a sober person, to grab a sandwich or say hello? Can I even do this? It’s an extremely difficult space to navigate, when something remains the same but you’ve completely changed. People always have their expectations. And, you can’t be angry at them for wanting the “you” that you were to arrive on the scene. After all, wasn’t I the same way? Going to the bar to order the same drink, see the same bartender, see the same regulars, play the same songs on the jukebox?
These people and places are constants. So, in returning to them in sobriety we offset a delicate balance. It’s something I have yet to do, but, know it’s something for which I’m going to have to prepare.
Mainly with my local pub. It was, for a long time, my home. And there, resides a special family of persons who held me up in some difficult times. My homies, if you will. And, while I’ll never forget or discredit them for the many services they’ve done me and the kindness they’ve shown me, in sobriety, there’s just no place for those relationships. Not if I’m to remain sober.
It’s something that will take time. A grieving process of sorts. It’s action. It’s letting something go. Something big.
This is where AA will tell me to turn it over to God, the ultimate homie, and trust that we all will be ok. And, we will.
We will all be ok.