I laugh at how clueless I was, and still am. But the amazing part is that every day, even the bad ones, I am continually amazed by the waves of epiphanies crashing over me. I can’t believe how much I am learning now that I have an opportunity to change my life for the positive, an opportunity I get because of Jeff’s illness. When I get impatient that “change” isn’t happening quick enough, I just think back to a year ago. It’s weird that it’s still within that year for me, to where I can count days, but still, how spectacular are the ways that everything has changed in really such a short period of time! Had you told me a year ago that Jeff’s descent into mental illness and alcoholism would be the best event to occur in my life, I would have told you that YOU were crazy!
Don’t get me wrong, it is hard to put away the childish toys of the past sometimes. I can still sometimes feel myself getting caught up in missing out, or frustrated when I can sense someone feels sorry for me. It’s hard to retrain your brain after all these years of living in really unhealthy ways to know what’s healthy and what’s not for me. The last thing in the world that I need is pity. The most ironic part is that I perhaps needed the most pity in my life before this even happened. I spent so many years wasting my time, and the time of others around me. I was incapable of being a good person, living up to my potential, focusing on my needs, my wants, my desires. I was selfish and childish. I spent so much time masquerading as a happy person, sitting in bars and talking about what I wanted to do, instead of actually doing it. I used others and alcohol as lubricant to hide the miserable underbelly of a discontent, irritable, and meaningless life.
I heard someone say in an open AA meeting the other day that God blessed them to be an alcoholic. It may sound funny, especially because of the turmoil and strife that comes with it, but I feel blessed to have an alcoholic in my life. Jeff’s illness allowed me to take a good hard look at how I was living, and by living, I mean surviving. It is through his illness that I can look deeper into my own life and find patterns and meaning. It is through his illness that I am five months sober today, which though I do not identify as an alcoholic, has allowed me to live a more fulfilled, content, and serene life. It is through his illness that our relationships with each other, and more importantly, ourselves, get to grow stronger and fuller with each day that passes. I have a long way to go, but the shift that has occurred in my mindset has been legitimately life changing. I feel like the shutters on my windows have finally been opened. I don’t know how I was going through life before, but I feel so lucky and blessed to finally be able to see the light of a greater and more powerful world than I could have ever imagined.