And now, the highly anticipated Part 2 of Joan Killion Tamburini’s wonderful article! If you missed Part 1, click here to read it first.
In gratitude, harmony, and support,
*Vulnerable Canyon (Part 2)
by Joan Killion Tamburini
Day-to-day life began to feel like living on a slowly sinking lifeboat while people we knew were happily and safely partying on a cruise ship nearby. Our friends and outside observers used religion – “hypo-Christian” thinking – to justify their horrendous behavior and our obvious injuries.
Total and absolute darkness surrounded us, at least it felt like it. We were involved in business and personal situations that, in the city where professionals are held accountable by reasonable and transparent standards – just did not apply in the musty corners of small town America. We were doomed. I kept taking my amphetamines to “keep up” and then, when my husband finally found a good job a couple hundred miles away, I started day drinking to soothe my loneliness and fears until our family could reunite six months later.
If you want to make fear, anxiety and loneliness much worse, add day drinking to the mix. All you can do is hang on until bedtime, then, and really that’s all that is expected when you are “managing” things by yourself. I, at least, had enough self-love and insight to realize I would have to give up the amphetamines. We were moving back to the city and no doctor or pharmacy of any repute would continue to refill such a harmful and needless prescription for a woman in her forties. I went cold turkey and had major dizzy spells for a few weeks. My appetite came back. My focus came back just in time to deal with the logistics of another major move. But the drinking continued for several more years, just to reward my wonderful self with the gift of numbing at the end of each demanding day.
When my family left the country and returned back to our urban home town and reunited with old friends, I realized I had been changed irreversibly and that many of my old friendships just wouldn’t be the same. My loneliness continued and then I lost my Dad. The bottom of my world dropped out of sight for a couple of years. My resentment for the many years of struggle while our children were young festered and I distanced myself emotionally from that pain with drinking, which got much worse before it got better.
The opposite of addiction isn’t sobriety. It really is connection – FRIENDSHIP. It has taken many years but I finally like myself again and have the “peeps” I feel good to be with in my life. For me, a few close friendships are absolutely vital to my Recovery. I can’t do this alone, it is too hard. And while I may not be talking with a friend about recovering from substance use disorder per se, the connections I have with my friends now are all HEALING. The ones that aren’t I just don’t give my energy to anymore. I finally understand the “love yourself first” concept – in sustainable Recovery, you must be able to recognize what empties you and what fills you up emotionally and spiritually. The friends I have are “spiritual fillers.” I think friendship is fun again, instead of a chore, because I never let myself give until I am empty. I don’t have to do that to be loved. This is the gift of Recovery.
* I titled this “Vulnerable Canyon” because it depicts the dauntingly isolated feeling that prevailed throughout the period of time I write about here. Plus, we named our new home in rural Kansas “Tango Canyon” to honor my husband’s Argentinian heritage.
Joan Killion Tamburini
Joan Tamburini has been writing stories and plays since she was a young child. Growing up the youngest of seven in a small farm town in the Midwest, Joan relied on her imagination to entertain herself when she wasn’t pestering an older sibling. As an adult, she was a grantwriting and nonprofit professional for many years. She returned to the joy of writing simply for fun on her blog, Cheeky Street, founded in 2014. You can see her writing featured on the blogs BetterAfter50. Joan is a passionate member of the Recovery community, having attained continuous sobriety since June 2015. She writes about her family, pets, sobriety, aging, spirituality and humor. Joan lives with her husband, Michael, and two teenage children, Isa and Mario, in Fairway, Kansas.
Visit Joan’s blog at: www.cheekystreet.com
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