Rants against a society that fully recognizes how an epidemic of addiction is destroying our children, our families, whole neighborhoods and cities, filling our jails and prisons, and littering our streets and alleys with the living dead. And yet, and yet, how this same society provides painfully few resources toward treatment and recovery. A son or daughter seeking a bed at a detox center is forced to wait months for something affordable dole out thousands of dollars for a few short days, only to be turned out onto the street again when the stay is ended.
Rages against the fact that the few available programs designed to help recovering addicts will bankrupt most families, since the road to recovery, as all admit, includes multiple relapses. But instead of sticking with those who relapse, helping them when they most need support, these programs kick them out on the streets again. With no place to go, to start over again and again and again, with no end in sight.
Sometimes it helps to rant and rage. And sometimes it just creates a dark hole that sucks me ever deeper into despair.
That’s where I’ve been heading. What I’m resisting.
What helps is knowing that I’m not alone. That I’m not even worse off than most.
At least, I tell myself, my son was not gunned down in his first grade classroom by a half-crazed boy; he did not hang himself because he was cyber-bullied into thinking he was worthless; he was not hit by a drunk driver on his prom night; he was not blown up on the battlefield in a senseless war; he was not shot in a movie theater for texting his daughter; he was not lost somewhere over the Indian Ocean on a flight to Malaysia.
At least he was not sold into slavery as a boy in the Philippines; or forced to murder his family as a child-soldier in Somalia; or bombed by a wayward drone on his way to a wedding somewhere in the hills of Aden.
Somehow it helps putting personal suffering into perspective. None of us are free of suffering. Even if what makes us suffer is the suffering of others.
Suffering is not the point, we soon come to see. It’s not what matters most. It’s not what breathed life into us, what keeps us moving forward, or what makes our lives worthwhile—the lives of those we’ve lost, and the lives of those still here, and those still waiting to be born. We do well not to dwell on our personal sorrow any more than we must to move past it.
These willful rants and rages help no one. I can let the darkness suck me up and become another casualty. Or I can turn away from the darkness toward the light. I have that choice.
I can choose to honor the light in me and my son and all those who are struggling–all the fallen children, all the mourning mothers–rather than dwelling on the darkness that dishonors us all.
I can honor the light that lies at the edge of every shadow, that pierces the storm clouds, and melts the mist. The light that filters through tree leaves, and slants across the grass, and pricks the night sky, and rains down in moonlight on the dark meadow.
I can honor the light outside my window this very moment, this first day of Spring, where the hummingbirds dazzle the garden with a bright rush of wings–hovering and humming, everywhere, everywhere! When I stop, and look, and listen.