A couple of days ago Facebook chose to show me a memory from 6 years ago. It was a picture of my 2 daughters, Laura and Sarah, standing together at a school function. Six years ago, I only saw it as a picture of my girls together. Now, I look back on it and I am flabbergasted as to how I was unable to recognize the depth of Laura’s addiction.
This particular picture was taken about a month before Laura went to rehab. I’m so shocked when I look at it. Her skin looks gray. Her eyes look dark. There is no light in her. The smile on her face is strained and her facial expression looks unnatural. It’s as if someone took a corpse and tried to fix it up and make it appear life-like. That’s what she looked like…. like the shell of a human being with no soul inside of it.
I remember a conversation with a former neighbor in which she confessed to me that her husband had a drug problem and she had been completely unaware of it. I told her that I understand how that happens. Sometimes, when we see something gradually changing just a little bit each day, we don’t really see the change. That is not unique to drug addiction but happens in many aspects of life. It’s when we separate ourselves from a person or situation for a period of time and then revisit them/it that we see the changes. For example, someone you see every day could gain or lose 20 pounds and you may not notice but, if someone has gained or lost 20 pounds since the last time you saw them it might be obvious how different they look.
I watched Laura go down the rabbit hole of addiction and, although I believed she had some mental health issues and suspected some drug use, I was completely unaware that she was using so heavily she was knocking on death’s door. Now I look back at her appearance 6 years ago and think “My God, how is she still alive?”
Laura has been sober for almost 6 years now. She has light in her again. I find myself looking for that light now. I look for the twinkle in her eyes. I trust that she’s sober but, I won’t be naive enough to say that it could never change. She must continue to make sobriety a daily choice. I believe wholeheartedly that she will remain sober but I will still always try to make a conscious effort to be observant and intercede if I ever notice that light begin to dim.
That would have been a real jolt. I am not surprised that you didn’t notice as it gradually happened.