My Big Fat Graduation Day
I’m staring at myself in the mirror of my bathroom and my heart is pounding and the butterflies in my stomach must be trying to escape because they were restless. As I’m looking at myself I take about 2 minutes (because of course I’m running late) to reflect on the past four years. My four college years taught me the most valuable life lessons, and today they were over.
Why Can't My Family Be Normal?
When you come from a family of addiction, Milestones like these are usually plagued with stress and anxiety. Instead of just simply sending out invites to my family, knowing they would show up, I had to take some time to really consider even asking them to come because they are loose cannons. I was encouraged by my mother to invite them all, insisting this was their last chance, and I grudgingly agreed. Surprisingly everyone rsvp’d yes! I hate to admit I was excited that day. I thought, finally a normal family event where we can celebrate my success and laugh and bond. Of course, in my moment happiness I forgot the addiction that dogs my family never allows smooth sailing.
Plan Of Attack
I knew, and my therapist, also reminded me that when dealing with addiction the unpredictability runs rampant. Because of this, I was advised to create a plan of attack. In the event that the entire day went to shit because of a substance abuse or the sheer fact that they might all bail, I would not let the day be ruined.
At 7:17 am my phone dinged. I don’t know how but I just knew it was bad news. I opened the message and it read “I’m so sorry I tried everything, I’m not able to make it today.” At first I felt an immediate sense of humor and with a passive aggressive chuckle I told myself I should have known this was going to happen. I have always felt unloved by my siblings, like I was the oddball out. I genuinely think that they just don’t like me. I am reminded by healthy people in my life that’s not the case. Love is not a quality valued by substance abusers. It wasn’t an earth shattering text because I had my plan of attack. I was disappointed but I allowed 3 minutes to feel it, then I moved on.
The Narcissism Of Addiction
Selfishness, self-centered thinking and flakiness piss me off more than anything. This text was everything that triggers me. I returned to my mirror. Looking at myself, I thought: you are graduating from college. YOU DID IT. You can do celebrate even if no one comes. I grabbed my unflattering giant black robe and hat and went out the door.
Quick Recovery From Potential Self Pity
My plan of attack worked. I had the best day ever, despite that morning’s initial sting. Instead of feeling slighted and unimportant, I knew it had it had nothing to do with me. I walked across the stage grateful and excited for the next chapter in my life. My family member who bailed will never know what I looked like smiling and waving from that graduation stage. But I still did it.
Don't forget the achieving members of your family on this or any occasion. And don't forget to celebrate yourself. Encourage and congratulate yourself daily. Always remind yourself that when the substance users in your live disappoint you, it's not your fault. Then walk across the stage of your life, and don’t let anyone take even one ounce of your happiness away. Ever.
Reach Out Recovery Exclusive By: The Intern