Courage, My Friend

There are so many things that require courage.  The degrees of courage may vary, sure, but I would venture a guess that almost all of us, every day, make some sort of courageous action – or, let’s be forgiving here, maybe at least we think about doing something courageous – let’s take what we can get!

I remember as a child, at eight or nine years old; thinking about crossing the street to my friend’s house.  It was a residential street in a quiet neighborhood, and I remember my mother telling me to look both ways before I cross, then run!  So I did.  I looked left, then right.  Not a car in sight.  Tensed my muscles to run.  Then stopped.  I was scared.  Looked left, then right.  Didn’t run.  I repeated this many more times; knowing what my mother had said to me, and how she had given me permission to cross the road.  I was afraid of a car that was nowhere in sight.  Finally, after many failed attempts at daring to step off that curb, I looked left. I looked right.  I gathered my courage tight.  And then I flew across that road.  And when I was on the other side, I felt puffed up with pride.  I had done something brave.  To an adult, something inconsequential; not even worth thinking about.  But to my little eight year old brain, I was a brave, brave, wonderful kid.

And as you get older, and life gets harder, the courage you need in your life multiplies exponentially.  Crossing the road can one day turn into crossing the road to recovery.  And that – the bravery, grit, tenacity, and vulnerability required to achieve sobriety and stay recovered; well, that is probably the most beautiful, courageous thing you can ever do.

The daily grind of intensive treatment is hard.  You are dealing with having your addiction not accessible, so there is no high, no numbing, to the pain and fear and sadness you feel.  The emotions run rampant, and even though you have courage for facing your demons and choosing to recover, that does not mean even one little bit that it is easy.  Not even close.  I stumbled across the perfect quote that sums up the intense fears and ups and downs of intensive treatment for addiction:

“The only courage that matters is the kind that gets you from one moment to the next.”

– Mignon McLaughlin

And that is very right, and very true, and very okay.  The grueling days of treatment, physically and emotionally, especially early on in treatment and in recovery, aren’t easy.  Breathing, crying, fighting for your life, engaging in treatment; all of that is so wrapped up in so much courage.

Living a life of addiction is easy.  Checking out, numbing your emotions, disengaging; that’s taking the easy way out.

Living a life of sobriety is much harder.  Because you have to feel, and deal.  You have to face the hard things in life that no one is immune to.  But those hard feelings; dealing with all the shit – there’s courage in that, and there’s a whole lot more beauty in it, too.  Being chained down, bowing to an addiction that will kill you and take away everything you love in your life will never bring you happiness.  Never.  But recovery will.  Lasting sobriety will.

So, look left.  Look right.  Take a deep breath.  Gather your courage, and then run across that damn street.

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