There are different types of friends. Friends run the gamut from mere associates to forever friends. From Facebook friends to the kind of friend who would bail you out of jail (unless he/she was in the cell next to you ). The best friends in the world are “ride or die” friends. Urbandictionary.com defines these individuals as “the people in your life who are there through thick and thin. They'll do what it [takes] to make it through with you. The ones that'll stick it through ‘till the end.’” In recovery, as well as in any healthy life’s journey, we need ride or die type friends.
There came a point in my quest for total health where I found out who my real friends were. I had been in recovery for more than three years. I was still struggling, but still hanging in there. I had a small circle of friends who I thought had my best interest at heart. Unfortunately, it took a special day in my life to find out the truth.
I’ve always wondered why birthdays mean so much to me. After all, it’s just the day I slithered into the world, the last of eleven children (we think). Is it society that implants the subliminal message that people are supposed to give a rat’s butt about the day you were born? Is it a subconscious need for attention? I really don’t know, but unfortunately, I’ve never shaken it. I can’t figure out why. As a child, my parents couldn’t afford to have me a party. Having food to eat and clothes to wear was a little more important (I’m not being snarky; it’s true). The only birthday party I was ever invited to when I was a kid was a nightmare. When I turned 15, I tried to have myself a party…no comment on what a catastrophe that turned out to be. My mantra after that was, “screw this mess!” I sincerely tried not to care about birthdays after that. When I turned 18, it’s was only a few days after I graduated from high school, so I was still riding on that high. Year 21 didn’t mean anything because I’d drank more alcohol before it was legal than I ever have since becoming “of age.” Year 30 was a blur because it’s the same year I had my tonsils out (strep, surgery, and drugs, OH MY! ) But then last year came year 40. Oh dear.
For some reason, I thought that year 40 would be my year. I’d finally started making decisions that were more beneficial to my health. Like I said, I was still struggling, but felt like I was on my way. The day before my birthday, a friend from church took me out to an early dinner and I was to get together with some other friends afterwards. Dinner was scrumptious. As I headed out to meet with my other friends, I felt so special—like one of the cool kids. Sigh. Why do I do this to myself?
Have you ever seen an intervention? No, I’m not talking about a Dr. Phil intervention; I mean a real one. It is my understanding that an intervention is set up because a loved one (i.e.: someone you care about the health and safety of) is harming himself in some way. Whether it’s an abusive relationship or some sort of substance abuse, an intervention is supposed to be a loving meeting to let the loved one know what harm their choices are producing, to instill in them that they need help, and to give them the comfort of knowing that they have people in their corner. Kind of like Galatians 1:6 (King James Version) – “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” Well, that ain’t what I got. What was supposed to be a joyous time of fellowship turned in to a cartload of crap!
First of all, I already knew and acknowledged that I was a food addict and was getting help, so I didn’t see the point of this in the first place. Second, I found it rather tacky (that’s the nicest word I could write down) to mess with me the day before my birthday. Third, their entire premise and motive was wrong. Here’s how it went. My “friends” gathered together to let me know that (1) they thought I was suicidal, (2) they didn’t support my being a part of Celebrate Recovery, and (3) I was too honest about my struggles and that my honesty was making them look bad. Stop! Hammer time…
Now, let’s see, you don’t support my honesty about my struggles? O…K. Any of you who’ve read my blog since its inception know that it started out slightly different than its present form, but that I always endeavored to be open and honest. Jeremiah says (Living Bible), “You can’t heal a wound by saying it’s not there.” These people took my honesty as a personal challenge instead of a real person with real problems working through real answers and helping others in the process. I was told “You know, people will use what you’ve said against you to hurt you.” But wait, isn’t that the risk you take with any relationship, cyber or not? I needed to take the risk so that I would know that it was O.K. for my voice to be heard, and to know that it was being heard by SOMEBODY! I’d gone through years of being the squeaky wheel that got no grease. This was my out; this was my release point; this was a way that I knew the joy of helping or encouraging at least one person with genuine honesty. But, that’s a no-no! It’s a heck of thing to find out your friends are ashamed of you.
Next, you don’t support my being a part of Celebrate Recovery? For those who don’t know what CR is (because I haven’t explained it very well, sorry). Celebrate Recovery is a Christ-centered 12-step program that uses the same recovery steps as the various “anonymous” groups. The difference is that our steps and principles are Bible-based, and we are allowed to openly worship God and acknowledge Jesus Christ as our higher power. Now, if my friends had not been professing Christians, this revelation of non-support wouldn’t have been a shock to me. I asked them why they didn’t support it. Their answer? “Well, I wouldn’t go.” God didn’t tell you to go; he told me to go. “Well, it doesn’t seem to be doing you any good.” Now, you’ve lost your mind. Do you know where I would be if it hadn’t been for CR? Do you really?
Why do I get the feeling that I’m in the presence of Job’s counselors? Now you know WHY they thought I was suicidal.
I made the mistake of doing what many co-dependents do; I acquiesced. The deal was that I would hang around long enough to get my 4-year chip in July and then I would totally walk away from CR for six months. Then we’d reassess the situation. The caveat was that they were to be there to fill what was lacking. “Oh yeah,” they said. ”We’ll be there for you. We’ll love you and pray for you. Sure, we’ll take good care of you.” They promised they would be “ride or die” friends. Anybody want to guess what happened? They didn’t ride; they died. Once I was completely out of CR, they had what they wanted. They were even more distant than before. It was three months of misery, loneliness, depression and emptiness.
Again, I picked up the chant of “screw this mess!” and I made drastic changes. I jumped back into CR with both feet and found me some REAL “Ride or Die” friends. Now, it’s not that I don’t still love my other friends or that I don’t own my part of the collapse of our friendship. It’s just that I can’t “do recovery” with them. We can talk about surface stuff, but anything of a deep emotional nature must be avoided for my emotional health and to keep them from feeling ashamed.
Today is my 41st birthday—exactly one year since this crap happened. I felt that I needed to talk about this because for one thing, somebody reading this may be going through something similar. Yes, it’s hard, but you are worth having people in your life who have your well being in mind and who will also get in your face and tell you when you’re wrong or need to change. I also needed to talk about this because I’m dealing with fear today. My new “Ride or Die” friends have gotten together to take me out for a birthday dinner tonight. I’m very afraid that I’m going to cause a repeat of last year. This has NOTHING to do with my friends. This has EVERYTHING to do with me. I suffer with waiting-for-the-other-shoe-to-drop syndrome. Y’all pray now. I want to enjoy this birthday.
UPDATE: The birthday dinner was great. Laughter, Mexican food, and cute guys singing to me in Spanish...oh yeah!