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The Life/ Death/ Life Cycle

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The Life/ Death/ Life Cycle
The Life/ Death/ Life Cycle

I came upon the idea for this post while walking through a cemetery. I know, kind of morbid, right? But really, is it? When you think about it, the life/ death/ life cycle is all around us. Right now, where I live, Fall is beginning. The leaves are starting to turn and fall from the trees. The squirrels are busy gathering food for the coming winter months. The temperature is getting cooler. The days shorter, and the nights longer. We’re in a period of change, of death.

If the seasons didn’t change, the trees wouldn’t shed their old leaves. The grass and plants wouldn’t go into hibernation. If that type of death didn’t happen, new growth wouldn’t come. The branches on the trees wouldn’t have room for new buds in the spring. The grass and plants wouldn’t be able to produce new growth and flowers as well.

The same is true for my sobriety. If I wasn’t in a constant cycle of life/ death/ life, I wouldn’t grow. I couldn’t shed old behaviors for new behaviors. I couldn’t shed old beliefs for new ones. I couldn’t work through past painful events and learn new ways to cope. No growth equals no change.

Fear of Death

For many years I feared death. When I was in active addiction, part of me wished I would die so I wouldn’t feel empty anymore. But, the other part of me feared death too. I was fearful of not waking up the next day. I didn’t understand the reason behind death. I didn’t understand why my mom had to die so young. I didn’t understand why my grandpa’s had to die. In my book, death was horrible because it made me break into a million pieces. Pieces that I thought would never be put back together again.

It wasn’t until I saw an episode of Charmed that featured Death as a character, that I finally understood the meaning behind death. In the episode, Death revealed himself to Prue, to help her understand why her mom had to die. He said that if people didn’t die, we would have no reason to live. Death is a necessary part of life.

 

The fear of death follows from the fear of life.

A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.

-Mark Twain

Part of Me Must Die So I Can Live

After I got sober, my fear of death diminished. I understood why death had to happen. I began to cherish the life I had, and those around me, because for some reason, I had been spared. I had a new lease on life, and I wasn’t going to waste it.

I started working steps. Learning new tools to help me stay sober. I was happy for longer than just a day, or a few hours at a time. I actually wanted to live. I was making leaps and bounds in my sobriety. A lot of progress in a short amount of time.

And then came the wall.

I was stuck. Meetings became boring to me. I wasn’t growing or making any new progress. I hit a rut, and I didn’t know how to get out of it. I fell into a funk, and began to wonder why I was staying sober if I wasn’t making any progress. In my head, if I wasn’t making progress, wasn’t growing, then that meant I wasn’t staying sober the “right” way. It must mean I was doing something wrong. Right?

Wrong. It took a long while for me to realize I cannot be constantly growing. Honestly, looking back now at all the progress I’ve made over these last 3 ½ years, I would have pulled my hair out if I had made that much progress in a short amount of time. Or, would have been drunk by now.

The way I see it, it’s all part of the life/ death/ life cycle.

Life – when I first got sober, and made a lot of progress.

Death – the lull or rut that I had.

Life – new growth.

It’s a constant process of death and renewal. The times when I don’t think I’m growing are the moments when a piece of me is “dying”. My body, mind, and spirit need those times of death, or down-time, to process what I’ve gone through. I need time to recuperate between growth spurts, or “life” moments, so I can ready myself for the next challenge.

I think that’s why death isn’t a constant part of our lives, for the most part. I mean, people we love don’t drop like flies every single day, except in a few rare cases. Death comes in intervals to prepare us. We have time in-between to cherish those people in our lives that we love, so that when their time does come, we know we didn’t waste a moment with them.

The same goes for our sobriety. When those times of “death”, or ruts come, it makes the times of “life”, or growth, all the more sweeter.

So, the next time you feel like you hit a wall in your sobriety, and you’re not growing, stop and cherish the moment. Take time to look back on the progress you’ve made, and be grateful for the growth. And never take your sobriety, or your life, for granted.

Here’s to living,

Mindy

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