For the better part of a year I have been watching someone half my age do exactly as I did for 30 years. Absolutely heart breaking. I feel a as though I’m looking at a mirror.
I understood the truth of that whenI realized that I was terrified at the thought of seeing him come around. Terrified, not because I feared for my safety or any concern for myself, but I knew the depths of his pain and I couldn’t bear the thought of watching the disintegration of his young spirit.
I also knew the pain his family was bound to suffer. And I Love them all.
In my years of counseling and therapy-on either side of the desk-one of the most revealing exercises I’ve attempted was writing a letter to my young self. What would I tell me if I could do so before I chose that path.
Having been in some kind of therapeutic program almost constantly since the age of 15, (minus prison of course), and having a well established, almost instinctual sense of self-interest and self-delusion, it’s been quite a while since I’ve benefitted from any of it.
Even with that therapeutic obstacle the letter writing exercise was unusually effective. Painfully so actually.
I now look at the brokenness of this kindred youngster in front of me and I am confronted with a million things I didn’t even think of saying to myself.
In all my years of surrounding myself with people in recovery of one sort of another never once do I remember feeling truly relatable. Of course there were commonalities but I couldn’t lose the omnipresent feeling of separateness I’ve felt for as long as I can remember. On the deeper levels I simply could never relate. Not like I do right now. It is one of the most heart-rending things I’ve encountered.
It was inevitable in my journey that I began to involve myself in trying to help others who walked this path. Even in doing so I cannot say that I actually concerned myself truly with their troubles. That has been cause for significant regret. While I know that I was fortunate enough to help many steer themselves to a better path successfully, it mattered little to me one way or another.
This thing. This new genuine concern is more than a little unsettling. For I have practically no training in this.
I am compelled to caution by its unfamiliarity and the eeriness of seeing myself at 20 in real life. If there ever was a time that the pain, misery, and destruction I’ve inflicted could possibly be purposeful it is indeed right now.
I also strongly suspect that, if he truly is like I was, my words or any effort to show him will almost certainly be for nought. So I’ll be here to seize the opportunity if it comes and brace for the storm.