To know an addict


This morning I received a call from a young lady named Jenny.  She was the daughter of an old friend, Morgan, whom I had cut off ties with a few years ago because of her addictions relating to alcohol and prescription drugs.

The moment I saw the name appear on the caller ID I knew it was not good news -nor was it a “Care-Call” to just check in on me as I had no contact with any of Morgan’s family members for a number of years as well.

My first instinct, when I read the name announcing itself on my phone line, was that Jenny was calling me to inform me of her grandmother’s passing as Barbara is now in her mid 70’s and has had numerous medical complications.

However, by the time Jenny was finishing the final words of her very first sentence, I knew the call was relating to her mother Morgan instead! Jenny informed me that her mother had been found dead in her home just two days earlier and that the family would be flying in to hold the services in the city Morgan passed on in.

I live just a few miles away and I was touched that I even got a call! I am a rather private person where my emotions are concerned and I am using this unfortunate and tragic opportunity to simply let my mind wrap around the fact that the final chapter in the book of such an amazing and absolutely brilliant woman’s life has come to a bitter end.

Morgan was soft spoken, charismatic and most of all she was a warm and gentle soul. Whenever I met with her outside of her inebriated or drug-influenced state, she spoke of such delightful topics as the value of learning, how to connect to someone else’s situation free of judgment, and to simply observe and remove oneself from discrimination and disdain.  She carried a type of wisdom with her that was always a contradiction to the flip-switch we encountered when she would partake in her drinking and substance abuse.

She reminded me of those old black and white comedies where in which a gentleman would dress in perfect uniform on one side -allowing viewers to see the very essence of who he was as a proper gentleman while the other half of his appearance mocked its self by transforming him into a woman.

Then the actor would begin to turn from side to side in order to properly assign each character -the feminine and the masculine… allowing them to express and explain their own take on whatever imaginary text or content they were negotiating themselves around.

That was Morgan.

She was so profoundly profound on one side of her spirit and yet so frighteningly frightened on the other. I cannot even begin to imagine living within the confines of such a bitter dispute. I see how such an existence could and would drive any human being to the literal brink of insanity.

In that place of acceptance, I can begin to unveil the fine line between her battle to defeat her demons and the one those very same monsters waged back in their own determination to prevail as well.

As unfair and unnecessary as all of the tragedy was – it hopefully has instilled in those of us left remaining in this disarranged and obscure moment to recognize the importance each and everyone of us must embrace regarding our own value and worth.

If I had to say anything about her death it would be that at least now -for Morgan the battle is over. The war has come to an end and she is no longer suffering.

The lesson I will carry away with me from all of this is:

Addiction holds its vessels hostage because of the shame and guilt they do not let go of.

If an addict could hold his or her head up high and see their true importance -they could then never betray themselves again by contaminating their bodies and minds with its influence.

Someone plagued by addiction is really only running from themselves and I, for one, am glad the marathon of madness that Morgan ran for far too long is now over.

I would like to imagine that when she crossed the finish line God himself was there -arms open wide, smiling and embracing her as she deserved nothing less.

Her kind of struggle should teach us all about the frailty of being a human being and about the courage it took for her to be here so long while in the strong-hold of a never-ending complexity -wrenched in pain and fear.

There are many of us left who have had to remove ourselves -for one reason or another from the demands another’s addictions often placed on us.

To the people who are feeling weighed down and burdened by their own decision to walk away I say only this,

“We were never showing a lack of love in doing so against that person – we were showing love for ourselves, our children or other loved ones instead.”

I, for one, forgive myself for discontinuing contact with Morgan on the physical plane because on the spiritual one I never gave up on her and I continued to pray for her -to wish her well – to give room to remembering her qualities instead of her deficits. After all in the end all the love, support and understanding can never save someone from themselves.

Today, however, is a new day and from this moment on we can carry peace and compassion with us …or we can welcome the same conflict as an addict and then we all lose.

I, for one, cannot make that choice. Life, in the end, is really ours to command. Pain can only take over our lives if we so allow it. Morgan -and the millions of others who have died because of their addictions are proof of that unfortunate truth.

As I draw this to a close -I am left with one thought -a song so faint playing in the background once lost in the archives of my mind -Sara Mclauchlan’s Song…In The Arms Of The Angels.

Morgan “May you find some comfort there!”

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