We all have people in our lives that we consider lost. The walking dead. The ones that have given up on themselves for so long, they’ve drifted out of our reach.
My father spent years trying to pull his sister Mary back.
The minute someone gives up on themselves, they start daring everyone they love to give up on them, too. We think of self-destruction as standing on the edge of a cliff to see who will stop you from jumping. Testing everyone around you and waiting for someone to grab you off the ledge. When we are losing ourselves, we expect this one drop that will mark the moment we become a lost soul.
That’s not how it happens.
It’s a quiet, slow process to lose yourself. It’s a quiet, slow process to declare our loved ones ‘lost souls,’ and it usually happens long after they’ve lost themselves. There is no line to toe between ‘here’ and ‘lost.’ There is only the footing of your family and relationships that you either stand on or chip away. The key is realizing that you are destroying yourself and there is no single moment that will decide whether you take hold of your own life or give it away to drugs. They key is knowing that only you are the one who can decide that you are not lost yet. The longer you wait, the farther you slip. No day in the future will be easier to turn around and find yourself than today.
For those of us on the other side, all I can say is that the earlier you grab someone who is slipping, the easier it is to pull them back. Talk to your kids. All the time. They’re not going to be the ones to bring it up.
Heroin killed Mary long after she had lost herself, and long after we had lost her too. It was slow. It was having Mary at Christmas, sober, one year and high the next, not there at all the next, until the day she was banging on our front door with a junkie boyfriend at in tow in the middle of the night and I couldn’t let her in. Even when she was alive, I knew her as the idea of what Mary used to be. She was too far gone in my lifetime to be found.
Please do not let yourself slip so much that you wake up one day and realize you can’t climb back to life.