I can get swept up in stuff really easily.
Good or bad, happy or sad, whatever state I’m in right now feels like that’s where I’m going to exist forever. If I’m feeling lifted it’s like I’ve never been sad before, or if I’m sad I get caught up in feeling like everything is the worst.
The same can be said, I guess, for most things in my life. I’m all or nothing, black or white. My perspective depends on the day, my mood, all of the external and internal circumstances that might be going on… And that extends fully into my take on spirituality.
I am prone to existential crises. A lot of things can trigger me to ponder why I’m here, but sometimes I get caught up in the idea that everything is just meaningless and it takes me down hard. As I age, I know this about myself. Thinking too long about the deeper meaning of it all can trip me up and leave me lying in the dirt, face first. It’s dangerous.
In my heart of hearts, I am a believer. I can’t always explain or express what I believe, but I feel better when I believe SOMETHING. It’s not a single deity that I cling to, nor the idea of a heavenly father per se. Rather a belief that, at the end of the day, the universe does have my back and that things will work out exactly as they’re supposed to.
This goes along with my new decision to be open-minded and, as I said before, teachable.
The strangest thing is though, as soon as I made a decision to lean into this belief, the messages arrived in abundance.
We can find meaning anywhere, and it’s not going to look the same for me as t does for you. I started seeing numbers that were repeating, and coincidences popped up here and there. Little things that I could take as messages from something bigger than me, showing me and guiding me throughout my day. And really, I don’t care if these occurrences are “real” or “divine” or if they’re all in my own head. They make me feel like I’m going the right way and that makes me feel like I can keep making the right choices. I seek meaning. I seek connection. I seek something outside of me to connect with and I feel more whole.
This is how I am getting through massive bouts of survivor’s guilt.
I am in an environment of my own choosing today. I surround myself with people who are on similar paths in life, working to become better people whenever we can. I am picky about who I spend my time with these days and I choose people who I know I can count on to help me stay safe and accountable. The thing of it is that, as I mentioned before, lending a hand to those in need is an extremely important part of my healing journey and for me, right now, that means getting involved in a meaningful way with people who are still struggling with addiction or who are newly in recovery. It can be an amazing thing. It can be uplifting and soul-soothing to really be able to reach someone.
It can also be heartbreaking. Addiction is a life or death matter and I’ve seen my fair share of death throughout the last decade. Like most things, when I was out there living that life it was easy enough to turn off my awareness of the very real danger facing me on a daily basis. I knew that the drug supply was tainted. I knew that it was happening all around me. Yet I was able to just compartmentalize the risks I was taking and power through. Now, on the other side I have swung entirely the other way and news of another overdose just turns me into a pile of goo.
It’s not just because I see the fallout. It’s not just the shattered lives that are left to deal with the loss. It’s something beyond that that hits me right between the eyes and demands to know, “Why did I get so lucky?”
Luck. Right place, right time. I was playing dodgeball with hand grenades and I was fortunate to have made it out alive. I took the risks. I ran with that crowd. I did all of the same things and made the same mistakes and somehow, by some miracle, I am still here.
And that part of me that I mentioned, the one who needs to see little messages of encouragement from the universe, clings to the fact that I am still here. Maybe it was entirely entropy and randomness that spared me from the clutches of death. Maybe it was. But maybe, just maybe, it’s because I still have work to do.
It isn’t fair, you know. It isn’t fair that some people find the answers to keep them safe and that some people never do. It isn’t fair that some children are orphaned by addiction while mine still have their mother. It isn’t fair and I feel massive amounts of guilt because I’m still here. And I could get lost in that feeling of injustice if I wasn’t careful but instead, I take it as a message.
It doesn’t matter if it is random or planned, my job is to not take it for granted. My job is to realize that every day on this earth, on this side of addiction, is a gift I’ve been given that I can freely give away. I’m here, I might as well make the most of it.
And never forget that this is a unique opportunity that many others never got.
For that, I am eternally grateful.