Somebody to Lean On

I get scared.

I become overwhelmed.

I begin to find it harder and harder to breathe. The physical walls seemingly start to close in, while my mind begins to put up walls of its own – barriers designed not to keep things in but to keep them out. There’s no pleasure in facing struggles or issues head on, so why bother?

In years past I would’ve acted out. I would have gone straight to my drug of choice. There’s no doubt in my mind that without even thinking about what I was doing I would end up there. Self-soothing was the only thing that worked, probably because it was the only thing I tried.

But this time it was different. I didn’t even think about acting out. Not once did I consider getting my fix. I no longer need that hit. My mind didn’t automatically take me down the same road it’s been down so many times before. None of the series of tell-tale steps toward total inhibition were initiated.

My mind was screaming, thoughts racing through my head at a thousand miles per hour. Total overload. I can’t begin to process all of the thoughts, feelings, emotions. Or can I?

If the 12 Steps are my daily tools for recovery and I have a proper support system in place, then all I have to do is reach out. All I have to do is make some calls. All I have to do is the next right thing.

Sure, I freaked out initially. I put my guard up. I became a little defensive. It was obvious by the way the other person was responding to me, but I noticed it and worked to collect myself. And when I got off the phone with the person who initiated my minor breakdown, I didn’t hesitate. I took action. And those actions helped me stay sober.

A made a phone call. And another. And another. And another. And another. I texted someone who called me back. I texted someone else. I received a phone call.

After the event that rocked my world and threw me into a frenzy, I did what I had to do. I made all of those calls because each of those people is a member of my support system. They are people I trust. They are people I love who love me and know my stuff. And this time, every single one of them answered. I spent nearly an hour and a half on the phone with people. One was my sponsor. The rest were friends, some even coworkers.

These people did little more than answer the phone when I called. I talked. They listened. We took care of business, and they helped to ease my troubled soul. One of them, who I even forgot to mention in the list of calls and texts, sent prayers and scripture my way.

Even when I wasn’t completely sure what I needed, I reached out. I sought help. And God smiled down on me. These people are in my life because I have a relationship with them. We are there for one another. Thank God for that.

“Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself. Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important.” Galatians 6:1-3

In the long run, a fiasco that was important to me in that moment may not be that significant, but in that moment, it was everything. When I needed peace, calmness, serenity, surrender and guidance, I was able to cry out. I cried out to God. “I sought the Lord, and God answered me and took away my fears (Psalm 34:4).” I cried out to others.

In my moment of need, I didn’t have to go searching for people to help me. They were already there. All I had to do was call.

– Alex Walker

The header image is Lean On Me by Barbara Delinsky.

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