Grasping and groping in the darkness

One of the greatest things that blogging can do is connect kindred spirits.

I am a huge fan of both Jayna Otto and Taylor Kelley – two incredible writers and members of my chosen family. We inspire each other. Taylor guest blogs here in response to Jayna:

I read this fantastically F’ing honest and (for me) relatable piece recently:

http://nosleeptillrecovery.blogspot.com/2017/06/the-darkness.html

No matter how much progress I make, I’ve had a hard time seeing these things as anything but “just how shit goes.”

In quiet moments when I can look behind my eyes that only see homework to be done and dishes to be washed, there’s an inside out perspective that’s itching, scratching, clawing to be free, trying to devour the mediocrity and mundaneness I substitute for it.

Rather than face that fire, I’m drinking myself to sleep, eating shitty food until I throw up, corroding my brain with useless hypnotic media, or simply faking smiles and staring at walls. I try to douse that fire with poison and smother it with banality not necessarily because I think I’ll get burnt, but because I still don’t think I’m allowed to play with matches.

When I read something like Jayna’s work, I feel like I’m a valet for Will Smith; I get to sit inside whatever stupidly expensive car he drives for a few minutes, and maybe I get a quick handshake and I can feel the charisma dripping onto my palm when he hands me a tip, and I think how fucking cool it would be to live like that, but I mean at least I got 5 minutes worth of it.

Pieces like The Darkness bypass my logic and go straight to my heart. I know that’s because I’m reading something that feels like another person is translating my emotional dialect into English so I can understand it.

There’s still that part of me that won’t turn inside and stare at what’s there, just peeking at it with my peripherals and pulling it out of its box every so often when no one’s looking. I have too much money for life to be dark and depressing, at least my parents never got divorced, my body works the way it’s supposed to, I’m still living in the United States, I own a car.

Of course, I can’t drive that car because I got my second OUI about a year and a half ago, and those are just the fuck ups on public record. Am I trying really hard to drown something and shut it up, or am I just an asshole?

One of those places that I can open that box is with a few close friends and in a counselor’s office, and of course at the gym, and the better I get at doing that has enabled some f’ed up things to happen. I have the sickest kinds of dreams some nights, ones that I can literally feel and taste when I wake up, and environments that used to make me “anxious” are now like walking through a mirror and becoming a warped opposite reflection, doing, thinking, and feeling completely the reverse of what I know is good for me.

Not enjoyable phenomena, however they’re some of the only things that keep me doing the work of recovery and keep me reaching out to others at least a little, because the more they intensify the less likely I am to convince myself I don’t have anything to recover from in the first place.

The more progress I make, the darker the darkness. I don’t think it’s because counseling or meditation or lifting weights is forcing negativity down my throat, I think it’s because they’re opening my mind to remembering all the times other things were. Dualities are currency in recovery; give away some pain and in return you’ll find some positivity through healing. Share your true feelings with others, and it allows them to feel closer to you.

One thing I’m finding though, is that the pain of honesty seems to flip itself when I utilize it. If I approach myself and my world honestly (and that can be difficult), then I’m forced to admit just how much it fucking sucks to live with the lies I’ve accepted. In that way, I admire Jayna’s writing because she tells what she’s found to be the truth, no matter what the emotional consequence.

So how does one embrace honesty when they do not believe the truth? I’ve been told part of it is in trusting good people’s perception of you, and that if you really do trust them, then follow through with that and believe that they believe. I’ve had some of that, from the looks on people’s faces, to diagnostic charts, to men decades my senior, who’ve lived far less materially comfortable lives, telling me I sound just like them.

When people hold on to pain, it’s as much a part of themselves as their reflection. I never want to be like that, and I never want to think I’m special just because I’m hurting. Or that I deserve your pity and amiability every time I hurt myself or someone else via the mistakes I’m prone to make.

Jayna ends her piece by saying that we are not alone, and I am sure neither of us are. The next part I guess, would entail being okay with the fact that I’m a lot like my companions, and that as much as we weren’t born deserving darkness we surely have a right to own our own.  I can see this, perhaps with more work I’ll wholly believe it.

Jim LaPierre

About Jim LaPierre

Jim LaPierre LCSW CCS is the Executive Director of Higher Ground Services in Brewer, Maine. He is a Recovery Ally, mental health therapist and addictions counselor. He specializes in facilitating recovery (whether from addiction, trauma, depression, anxiety, or past abuse) overcome obstacles, and improve their quality of life. Jim offers a limited amount of online therapy to those with very flexible schedules.