The Word Changes: A Journey in Courage

It's raining, she's sitting alone in her car in a vacant parking lot. Watching the rain hit the windshield, she lifts the bottle to her lips, chugs and empties it. Her friend's voice keeps replaying in her head. “ Everyone has tried to help you. We have done everything we can. You are the one pushing everyone away, you are the reason you're lonely, homeless and broke. You are the only one that can fix yourself. I'm done, we're all done... It's up to you now because we can't keep watching you kill yourself. I love you but I can't do this anymore. Pull yourself together.”

She has been trying to get sober for a year now. She has been through hell. She lost her family, almost all of her friends gave up on her, she went from having more money than she knew what to do with, living the high class, fast paced life, to ending up back in her hometown completely broke, sleeping in her car, questioning everything about her existence.

An excruciating game of tug of war plays in her head every day. A war rages, one side fighting for sobriety, the other warring for a relapse. For her, the substances seem to have taken on a voice of their own. They scream at her, “You can't live without me, what is the point when you know you will fail? You are nothing to anyone anymore. You don't deserve to live. Why continue putting yourself through all of this pain when I can take all of it away?” In her weakness she usually gives in but this night, she's decided she has had enough. Her friend is right, the only one that can fix her is herself. With her head on the steering-wheel, eyes closed, tears rolling down her cheeks, she sifts through memories from the past, memories of who she was before the drugs... She's trying to remember the last time she even felt genuinely happy and she can't. Something inside of her is screaming but it's not the drugs this time, it is her spirit. It's screaming “This is not you. You are better than this. You had dreams, relationships, people used to love and respect you. Let's get that back. Show them all you can be someone. You can not die, leaving them only with a memory of the drugged out mess you have become... Make a decision and stick to it this time.”She sits for a very long time hearing her friends voice repeat over and over, until at last something clicks. Finally she lifts her head. It's morning, wiping the tears from her face, she starts her car, drives to the local gym to shower before heading into another long shift at work, the whole time thinking to herself, “Here comes my comeback.”

You have to understand the courage it takes to actually make this decision.. Sobriety is not as simple as just setting the drugs and alcohol down. It requires taking responsibility, no longer blaming the past,  feeling every ounce of pain you have been trying to numb, completely surrendering your old lifestyle (people, places and things).. basically, learning to live all over again. The hardest part can be hearing the voices fighting in your head all day long. This is where true courage emerges. Over and over it must be called upon to continue fighting for your life when the pain seems unbearable. All humans are born with a courageous spirit, it tends to get dimmed and tainted over the years but the dimming can never eliminate it. Courage is still there and generally emerges during our weakest moments. Listen to it, act upon it. Courage has the potential to change the whole outcome of your life. One moment, one choice, one act of courage, not only changes your life but the lives of all whose paths will intertwine with yours during your lifetime. When your time is up here, let the world remember you as a warrior, let them remember the battles you won, let them reminisce about how your courage inspired their courage to emerge as well.

a the word changes contributor

  Where is this woman now? Stay tuned for part two of Courage.

Antoinette Rodney

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