Letting the River Return

Today, Richard and I were driving back from my dental appointment and we got to talking about maturity, and how we evolve as people over time. He asked me if it seemed like I had been making a sort of accelerated leap forward in the past few months, if it seemed like I was rushing through several stages of my personal evolution all at once.

The first thing that came to my mind was what I have been told many times in drug and alcohol treatment: that we stop maturing when we start using drugs. I can’t tell you how many therapists have told me something along the lines of, “you are emotionally stuck at the point in your life when you started using”.

I think that this is somewhat true. I know that, for me, a part of me has been stuck back there in my junior year of college. I didn’t want responsibility, I didn’t have many boundaries, I was undeniably selfish, I had a certain amount of delusions of grandeur; I was a somewhat typical undergraduate student. However, I felt like there was something about me that was wrong. I felt physical and emotional pain, and to try and dull it, I started to take drugs, and very quickly they became my life. Everything else fell by the wayside. I did, truly, become stuck.

Now, as we were talking, I was trying to explain to Richard what things were like for me now, feeling like I have finally come, “unstuck”.

The image that came almost immediately to my mind was that of a deep, wide river. Let’s say you were to dam that river. Unless you have a large depression in which to collect the excess water, what will happen is that you will divert the river’s course. The water will turn, as best it can, and find a new path down toward the sea. Now, let’s say that you were to destroy that dam. What would happen? Well, first, there would be a surge of water, back down the old, dry riverbed. Then, slowly, the river would return to its old course, and after a time, no sign of the dam or the river’s old path would exist.

To me, that image demonstrates very clearly what things feel like for me at this point in my life. If the direction of my life is the direction of the river, and my addiction is the dam, I feel as if I have finally pulled down most of the dam, and there has been a surge of energy inside me, directing me back onto the course I was meant to be on. And after some more time has gone by, the evidence of that addiction, the destructive path that the river created when it had to go around that dam, will finally be erased. Nature will reclaim that dead, dry path that leads nowhere, and the water of life will return to the course it was always meant to follow.

I think that this image so clearly speaks for me that I really don’t need to go on and on about it. I think that I can just leave you with that image in your minds, and with the question: what does the dam symbolize in your life? Do you struggle with an addiction, like I do? Maybe it is a destructive relationship, or a job that doesn’t allow you to utilize your skills and strengths. Perhaps it is depression, or illness. That dam could be anything, anything at all. And if you aren’t careful and that dam gets big enough it could force the river of your life down a path it isn’t meant to follow. If you can recognize the dam in your life before it gets too big, perhaps you won’t have to go through the process I am going through now, having to tear that dam down piece by piece.

I wish you peace and a restful sleep, and I wish you clarity and insight as you explore what in your life might be altering the flow.

Thank you for reading,

-Nathan

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2 responses to “Letting the River Return

  1. It is amazing, no? While I’ve never had any drug addictions, I quit drinking about 6 months ago and have been quite amazed at just how that has gone. There is no doubt in my mind that the alcohol was my dam and removing it has had a tremendous impact on how I respond to pretty much everything in life.

    It is continually awesome to read of your accomplishments. Be well, friend.

  2. Great insight well expressed. Thanks for dinner tonight, for conversation and hugs.

    Sleep well following your martial arts class. Look forward to hearing how it was for you. Dud dinner stay down?

    Love,
    Aunt Laura

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