Day 16:Goodbyes and Butterflies.

May 9, 2011

Butterflies cause hurricanes. Jerks.

    There is a randomness to life. Randomness, in fact, permeates every stitch in the tapestry of human experience (too much?). And we humans do our best to whitewash God’s hand from that randomness. We devise things like chaos theory, which describes how small permutations of initial inputs to large dynamical systems (weather is an often cited example) have vast and wide-ranging effects in the outcomes of those systems. The oft-cited example is that a beating butterfly’s wings can cause a hurricane a continent away. Said yet another way, shit happens.

    But, although chaos theory gives us a what and a how, it leaves us wanting for a who or a why. Who made the butterfly and why is he here? Because of the randomness of the human experience, the odds seem stacked against the alignment of all the thousands (millions? billions?) of moving existential parts required to create those special associations we have with other human beings. Those associations which – due to specific factors of time, space and experience – are sufficient for us to bond with these special persons and become open to them changing us. And when certain events and people come together in our lives in a certain way, the role providence plays in directing those people and events becomes all but undeniable. Without that providence, how many ships would just pass in the night?

    Which brings me to J, who you already know. Today was his coin-out, a process with which you are already familiar. I think most of the people here were dreading J’s coin-out, because – as I have mentioned – J is a phenomenal person. He’s fun to be around, he’s funny. He’s the proverbial straw that stirs the drink (see what I did there?). He’s also kind, sensitive and considerate. So I don’t claim to be special in being sad that J is gone. But sad I am.

    The thing I can’t overstate is how important he has been to my recovery. Something clicked for me when I watched him give his life-line talk. He showed me what surrender looks like. What humility looks like. What vulnerability looks like. I have some pretty high walls up around the real me. I am emotionally unavailable, even aloof. Very few people see the real me. As a wise person recently told me, I am often afraid to let people see what I see.

     But J showed me the way. And I don’t think I even knew how important it was while it was happening, or even when I wrote about it. But something has definitely changed inside me. I don’t know how to describe it other than emotional honesty. For the first time in a long time – maybe in my life – I am being honest with myself. About a lot of things, but primarily about what I am feeling. Or in some cases, that I am feeling at all.  And I haven’t been able to turn it off since.

    As far as J goes, that was just the beginning for us. We were more or less inseparable after that moment. In this environment, 16 days feels like forever. So I feel like I’ve known J my whole life. Today was not an easy day, if I can be entirely honest and selfish for a moment. I was a part of the crew that took J to the airport. I gave my number to J’s dad, and told him to call me if something comes up. I don’t expect that it will, but the fact remains that a certain percentage of us relapse. And then we all hugged and cried and said goodbye. Then they were off.  The actual goodbye always seems so sudden.

    So it occurs to me once again I’m in a strange place with a bunch of relative strangers. I miss my kids. I’m coming off of Suboxone. I don’t have alcohol, cocaine, opiates or any of the other crutches I have relied on so heavily for the last 15 years. I have terrible feelings of guilt about my family, my kids, a marriage in shambles and a career that I took a flamethrower to. And I have this newfound ability to feel things that I haven’t learned how to control.

    J was a big part of me feeling comfortable here. He is a true confidant. I have others here, but he was like my emotional twin. After two short weeks he could read me pretty well. He knew when to ask if I was alright. And if I wasn’t, I would tell him so. I have known people for years that can’t read me like that. And to be honest, I don’t even know if I was all these same things for him. This might have been an entirely one-sided friendship. I hope not.

    Our attitudes, our preconceived notions and our prejudices are too often outcome determinative of the experiences we have in life. Furthermore, those attitudes, preconceptions and prejudices are often shaped by people – for better or worse. And, as far as I am concerned, J completely turned my attitudes, preconceptions and prejudices on their head. I’ll never be the same person, or at least I hope not.

   I hoped to have a life-changing experience when I checked into the Notdisneyworld Sober Ranch. I had to; I’ve got a lot of people whose lives depend on it. I didn’t foresee this. I have just witnessed the hand of God reach through time and space and rearrange some of the pieces on the board. I am thankful to have shared an orbit with J for a short while. And I’m going to miss him. Good-bye for now, J. I will see you soon.


One Response to “Day 16:Goodbyes and Butterflies.”

  1. This made me weep a little. My son is special. I’m happy he helped you.

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