A New And Improved Déjà Vu
  (original post March 20, 2014)
 
I have been trying to spend my writing time penning the super-extended version of my story, so I haven’t posted anything here for a while. Today was such a wonderful day that I feel compelled to write something about it.
 
Thursday is my “day off” during the week when I have no commitments to meet. I was laying in bed this morning wondering what I might like to do today. One of my good friends (I call her “Rooster.”) with whom I worked for several years had a birthday a couple weeks ago. It has been my custom to get her a few pounds of candy in honor of the day. The weather and my schedule have not permitted me to deliver her present to her so I thought this would be a good day. I also got an early call from my friend, Gary, who lives near the place Rooster works. He was feeling depressed and was thinking about going to the same psych hospital I was ”housed” in four years ago. So, I decided to do the “two birds with one stone” thing and went downtown to see my friends.
 
The first person I saw when I went in the building to see Rooster was my friend John. I had worked with him for many years. He used to come over now and then with a couple pizzas to watch basketball or football. Two years ago he stopped coming to our place because of something benzo w/d-related. He was angry with me about something that I did in withdrawal. Today he stopped in the lobby when he saw me, and we talked for some time. It was just like the old days. He is coming over on Sunday to watch some March Madness with me (and bringing pizzas). He was one of the few people who would sit and listen to my constant whining when I was extremely ill in withdrawal. Our friendship (which had been put on hold by something I did in withdrawal) has been restored. Woo hoo!
 
I got on the elevator and took it to the 14th floor – just as I had day after day for years. When I got off, I stepped onto the floor as though I had done the very same thing only yesterday. Everything was completely familiar. I walked around the floor and recalled everything. It had been three and a half years since the last time I went there to work. I was in severe withdrawal for over a year after I left there the last time in September 2010. Everything I thought I had forgotten forever returned to my memory immediately.
 
I went to Rooster’s desk and delivered her present. We talked and laughed and had a great time (just as we always had). As we enjoyed each other’s company, one by one others began coming by and talking to me. Somehow, during the first 11 months of my withdrawal experience, I was able to go to work (except for the three weeks in the psych hospital and the following week). During that time I was depressed and unable to do much of anything except exist. In those days, everybody knew I was “out of it” and stayed away from me. I was much like the leper of the floor.
 
Today many of those same people could see I was ”back.” I was my old self – no, better than my old self. They saw a man who was vastly different from the guy they knew for years (especially when he was in withdrawal). I was often bitter and resentful over the politics of the workplace (government job) and shared that anger. I have no more of that (even though it significantly affected my pension), but I noticed they still harbor those same resentments. Withdrawal took the bitterness from me.
 
In fact, one of them asked me if I would be interested in returning to work there. My cognition, talent, and ability to multitask are much greater than they ever were.  I declined the offer.
 
Maybe the most enjoyable part of the day was waiting at the bus stop. I had started taking that particular bus shortly after my withdrawal journey started in October 2009. I had never waited at that bus stop even one time when I felt anything other than total misery. As I waited today, I looked at the sidewalk, the buildings, the trees, the cars, and the people and realized I was alive. I felt like I had been completely reborn into a new person. My brain remembered all those things with pleasure. I had never noticed them when I was in withdrawal, but my brain stored the information these many months.
 
The ride on the bus today was vastly different from all the times I rode it while in withdrawal. I was calm and happy instead of anxious and depressed. I looked out the windows at everything I could and just stared. I had seen it all before, but I never really SAW it until today. I literally savored the ride today.     
 
It was a day of re-established relationships and remembering things I had never noticed even though I experienced them countless times in the past. It was a day of gratitude and thankfulness for survival and healing. It was a day of realizing that, once benzo withdrawal gets to a certain point, life just gets better and better.
 
It gets so much better in ways that we cannot begin to comprehend while in withdrawal.
 
BTW, Gary was feeling much better when I left him and opted to stay away from the hospital – always a good decision.