17 August 2018

Do-Over Dreams

Every week I attend a 12 Step women's meeting. It had been a long time since I spent time in the rooms, but I told a young woman I'd help her so I'm back. And it's great! Women, in general, are awesome and it's a real joy to be surrounded by so many of them working to make themselves and the world a better place. I'd recommend that everyone find a group, except this particular one requires you to be an addict. And lately I'm struggling to endorse addiction as a path to enlightenment.

Yesterday was a lonnngggg day of work and errands and doctors, so by the time I got to the meeting I was feeling overwhelmed. I shared that sometimes I wish I could sit down and have a glass of wine at the end of a bad day, like normal people do to unwind and deal with stress. To be clear: I didn't want to ditch my clean time because I had a tiring day. I just momentarily desired to not be an addict.

A little later another woman pushed back on this concept, saying she would never choose to be "normal" because her journey has brought her so much insight and strength. The comment stung and I let her words loop around in my brain for a few hours, making me wonder if I didn't have enough gratitude for my recovery.

But that's bullshit.

The 12 Steps taught me how to live a clean and rewarding life, and those lessons have served me well as I've navigated my way through the last 30 years. But I definitely would have traded that path for one without this disease, and I think anyone who disagrees is lying. My active addiction deeply hurt me and the people I loved, and I was lucky to survive it with only shame as a reminder. I would gratefully rub that stain off my permanent record.

Likewise, I certainly don't believe people with autism are flawed but I would absofuckinglutely remove that impediment from One's life. I'd clear a path for him toward a good job and a loving life partner,  instead of setting up a trust fund to help his brothers care for him after we shuffle off this mortal coil.

While we're at it, I'd save Three from his multiple concussions, and Two from the crippling sadness of his friend's death.

I would wish away Four's mood disorder.

And Five's bout with depression and anxiety.

I'd smother the pain that the Captain and his family are feeling right now over the loss of his cousin.

As a bonus, I'd bring back my parents and erase my father's alcoholism and my mom's pulmonary fibrosis. 

How far back could I travel to change the course of my life, to swerve right instead of wrong? If I did all that, would I be a different person? Happier or alone? More or less empathetic? Capable or afraid? 

Who are we if not the sum of our experiences? What if my life was a different equation?

On vacation I saw a sign that said "Don't look back. You're not going that way." I remembered that driving in reverse was the one thing I failed on my road test. All these miles later, I'm still learning that lesson. I am where I am because the universe sent me this way. No amount of hand wringing is erasing my damn spots, and my wishes have yet to produce different horses to ride. The saving grace is I get to gallop through the pastures with my favorite people. And maybe my time in the saddle on this specific trail will help them avoid the potholes that almost consumed me. 

It's not new math, but I can reconcile it.