January 22, 2011

The Pain of Compromised Standards

Day 22: 24.3 miles/1:24

 “Why is it that when I say, ‘I am putting this in your hands’, the first sign of an answer is one that hurts me and causes me pain?”

I was heading out for my morning ride.  When I left, something just didn’t feel right with Brandon.  It was one of those instinctive moments.  Having been around Brandon a few times before a fall, I have developed a paranoia-like sixth sense about these things.  I can’t tell you what it is. All I can say is that I always know something is amiss.  Leaving for this morning’s ride, I had one of those moments. 

Being that Brandon had been doing so well, I could not or would not have predicted that my gut instincts were serving me well.  Since I believed what I wanted to believe, not what I really knew, I went on my ride anyway.  About ten minutes into the ride, I had this instant urge to turn back.  I was not relaxing and my concern was growing.  As I crossed into an intersection, a place where it would have been the most convenient to head back, I decided not to let this distract me and declared “I am putting this in your hands to handle it” and continued my ride.

When I returned, all my concerns were verified.  After twenty-one days of being clean, Brandon had once again fallen down.  He stole my bank card, withdrew $60, borrowed the car, drove to a dealer and got some junk.  Then, he returned home, replaced the card, and went off to the gym to shoot up.

Such is the life of an addict–clean one day and out of control the next.  It is so distressing and painful to experience the deception, the failure and the betrayal.  Once again I found myself confronting Brandon and informing him it was time for him to leave.  Hurt and disappointed and angry I returned back to the house to deal with my emotions in another round of the Brandon roller coaster circus.

How does something like this happen?  What was he thinking?  I thought he was doing so well.  Why didn’t he tell me he needed me?  I would have delayed or skipped my ride if he had asked me to.  Why didn’t he phone his sponsor instead of his dealer?  These are the kinds of questions that race by the thousands through my head.  I went from celebrating the seventeen best days that I had enjoyed with Brandon to that painful, mournful loss of a friend.  The next emotion is that feeling of concern and dread.  Where will he go?  Will I see him again?  If or when I do, when will it be?  And, do I even want to see him anymore?  The roller coaster life of an addict plays havoc on more that the addict, it is a painful, emotional roller coaster for family and friends, too.

As I reflect on the day’s events, I think of the lesson learned in this experience.  As it relates to Brandon, it is a lesson that I have not learned very well yet.  But, I am getting better at understanding I need to.  When it comes to what we observe, what we believe or want to see is often a stronger influence that what we are really observing.  When I left this morning, I knew something was wrong.  I knew I needed to pay extra attention to Brandon.  However, I wanted to believe that things were different.  I wanted to trust that my instincts were wrong.  I chose to ignore every indication of trouble because I wanted to believe that my gut was wrong.

When it comes to your commitments and mission, there are times where you will allow exceptions, excuses, or lower standards at the risk of your success.  Remember, maintaining a successful course means staying on course.  Allowing yourself or others involved in your program to get off track puts the program at risk.  Part of the challenge with any commitment is being sensitive and in-tune to behaviors and situations that could derail the program.  Looking the other way or ignoring the warning signs, especially because we don’t want to admit what we see or feel, could cause issues in getting to the goal.  Stay sharp and trust your instincts and don’t let anything threaten what you have worked so hard to accomplish.

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About Dave Cooke

Dave Cooke is a dad on a mission. His mission is to help parents get control of their lives over the powerful, destructive influences of a child's addiction. As the father of a son in a ten year heroin battle, Dave knows all to well the challenges parents and families face. He also knows there is a way to find peace in the chaos. It is his mission to help parents discover their path to a healthier, balanced life even if a child's active addiction is still part of their daily journey.